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What they said: Dick Monfort, Jeff Bridich and Nolan Arenado address trade to Cardinals

A day after sending all-star third baseman Nolan Arenado and cash to the St. Louis Cardinals for Austin Gomber and four prospects, Rockies owner Dick Monfort and general manager Jeff Bridich met with the Colorado media.

Following are highlights from the hour-long news conference:

Dick Monfort

Initial comments on trade:

“I am aware this is not a popular decision, but I promise you it wasn’t made with haste. I’m a fan first. I think you all know that our players are like family to me. We were blessed by Nolan, and we all had a front row seat to watch this unbelievable player. Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever. I will always wish Nolan, and his family the very best.”

On what drove the decision to trade Arenado:

“A year ago we tried to find out whether there was a fit for Nolan quietly. That was Nolan’s and our hope. Then it got out. .. We shut it down because there wasn’t anything that was a fit.

“If I had my druthers, I would rather have Nolan Arenado, but it was no one’s choice. He wanted to move on. I’ve speculated over the last year why, and I’ve talked to Nolan a lot about it over the last year. But the fact remains that I think he just felt it was time for him to try something else out.

“That said, what do you do?  You can just wait and have him opt out at the end of the year and you get a draft choice. Or you can talk to some other teams and see if you can make a better deal. Although there’s a lot of financial ramifications in this, I think the fact of the matter is we honored what Nolan wanted to do and we made what we thought was the best thing we could do at the time. … This didn’t just all of a sudden happen. This took a lot of work. So, I think these are the results of that.”

On why Arenado asked to be traded so soon after signing a contract extension:

“I have anguished for many sleepless nights why that happened. … In all our conversations with him, he never just said it was this or that, or whatever.”

Did Arenado say he was going to opt out?

“He had told us he wanted to be traded, so our assumption was that he would opt out (at the end of the year).”

On how finances went into decision to make the trade:

“I don’t think the decision to do this trade with Nolan, yeah there are some financial ramifications going forward, but I think this was something we started dealing with before the pandemic. … Nolan’s desire to move on didn’t change. And so I think we just continued the process that we had started a year ago,”

On making this particular trade now:

“In dealing with this we tried to find a way that we could get the greatest return possible. … There were many teams that we talked to, and there were many deals that made no sense. And to be quite honest, there were 10 times over the last two weeks where I didn’t think the St. Louis deal made any sense. But Jeff did an incredible job of pushing the talent, and I know none of us know these guys real well specially since there was no minor league season last year, but our amateur scouts had seen these guys, and some of them… these are talented guys.”

On whether he has considered firing himself or Bridich:

“I haven’t thought about firing Jeff….I have thought about firing myself, but I have not thought about firing Jeff.”

On what he would tell Rockies fans angry in the wake of Arenado trade:

“I am a fan… so I understand how they feel. And to be quite honest, I would probably feel the same way, and maybe I do even feel the same way. Like I said, when we signed Nolan it was in an attempt to keep Nolan here for the rest of his career, but things do change.

“I truly in my heart believe that this is a very talented team that underperformed the last couple of years. I’m not even going to count last year because it was a difficult year, but I think we underperformed.

“I believe we’re shorter talent than we were a year ago. But we’ve got a lot of guys that, to be quite honest, it’s time to cut bait. This could be the challenge that they need. This could be: They need to step up and fill in this void. 

“… We’re going to face some issues with our fans and we’ll deal with it. And hopefully we can get off and start playing well and in time the fans will understand,”

On where Rockies stand in the major league pecking order:

“We do everything in our power to keep this team as competitive as possible. We know that we’re not going to ever get out there and and go after Gerrit Cole or some of the really top line free agents, because, you know, we’re in a grouping, a mid-market team where we just can’t take that that risk.”

On losing DJ LaMahieu to the New York Yankees in free agency:

“In hindsight losing DJ LeMahieu was a big deal. In hindsight I wish we could’ve figured out a way to keep DJ. We wish we could redo that.”

On role in making baseball decisions:

“I’m a fan so I communicate with Jeff a lot. We talk about different players. You know I’m a homer, I love all the players that come up through our system. So, you know, I always hate to to get rid of any of them. …

“I go to every game here, so it seems like all the time I’m telling Jeff, ‘I know he hits well here,’ but I try not to get in the decision process. The Nolan deal was a little different because it was a large contract. … And so, when you got a combination of money and players it took a little coordination, but no I try I try not to get involved in that.”

Why not just keep Nolan for six more months and not send money to St. Louis?

“If we had played it out, let Nolan opt out, we would have paid Nolan $35 million this year and we would have got one draft pick at the end of the year. … So that’s what we would have got.

“So what we ended up doing was, we deferred some money, we paid him some money over time, and we were able to pick up five players. We felt relatively comfortable that four of those five players would have been the type of guy that we might have got with that one pick.”

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