Nolan Arenado – The Worst Trade Ever?
Jeff Bridich has been in a leadership role for the Colorado Rockies organization for more than 14 years. A graduate of Harvard University and former major league player, Bridich was named Executive Vice President and General Manager back in 2014.
Surely a man with an Ivy League education and plethora of experience would know the trade value of a 29-year-old, 5-time All-Star like Nolan Arenado. Bridich must have had a class or two in negotiation, or at least read a book on deal-making before shopping the 8-time Gold Glove third baseman to the St. Louis Cardinals. After all, Arenado had averaged 35 HRs and 114 RBIs over his lifetime and was statistically in his prime.
Did Bridich end up with a number one starter, a few top prospects, or a big-name player in return?
The Rockies ended up trading Arenado for Austin Gomber, Mateo Gil, Elehuris Montero, Tony Locey, Jake Sommers, and they threw in $51 million just to sweeten the deal.
If those names are unfamiliar to you, you are not alone. They are also unremarkable, with only Gomber projected to make the team as an emergency starter in the nearby future.
But is it the worst trade in the history of Colorado sports? Let’s take a look at some other historic low points.
Denver Trades Up to Select Tim Tebow – In 2010, coach Josh McDaniels shocked the football world by trading Denver’s first, second, and third-round pick to Baltimore to move up to the 25th overall spot in the first round of the NFL draft and selected quarterback Tim Tebow, the Heisman Trophy winner out of Florida. Tebow was a media darling, a spiritual presence, and a leader of men. He just couldn’t throw a football. Both lasted less than two years.
Troy Tulowitzki Traded to Blue Jays – On paper the trade didn’t look too bad. Back in 2015, the Rockies unloaded the contract of Tulowitzki, the legendary shortstop and Colorado fan-favorite, and aging pitcher LaTroy Hawkins for Toronto’s Jeff Hoffman, Miguel Castro, Jesus Tinoco, and All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes. Tulowitzki hit 24 HRs and drove in 79 runs his first season with the Blue Jays. Reyes played in only 47 games before being designated to the minors for assignment, after a domestic abuse suspension.
Rudy Gobert Traded to Utah – In the 2013 NBA draft, the Denver Nuggets selected Gobert, the 7’1 center from France, then traded him to the Jazz for Erick Green and cash. Gobert is currently in his ninth season with the Jazz after twice being named the Defensive Player of the Year and signing a max-contract worth $102 million. Green never suited up for the Nuggets, playing his entire career over in Europe.
John Elway Trades Up to Get Paxton Lynch – It is painful enough to think about the 2016 NFL draft in which Denver selected Lynch in the first round hoping to find their heir apparent to Peyton Manning. But it’s even worse when you recall that Elway had to give up an additional third-round pick to Seattle just to move into that position. Lynch lasted two seasons, starting in only four games, for Denver before eventually being released.
Matt Holliday Traded to Oakland – In retrospect, the Colorado Rockies did pretty well in the 2008 trade that sent Holliday, recently coming off a season of 36 HRs and 137 RBIs, to the A’s for a
prospect named Carlos Gonzalez, aging reliever Huston Street, and a pitcher named Greg Smith. But despite Cargo having an outstanding career, it was the first time that Rockies fans realized that they were in a mid-market and would eventually lose future talent to teams with larger checkbooks.
Nuggets Trade Donovan Mitchell for Tyler Lydon and Trey Lyles – In defense of the Nuggets, when the team selected Mitchell with the 13th pick of the 2017 NBA draft, the team was already stacked with young guards like Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Malik Beasley, and Monte Morris. Trey Lyles was a promising 6’9 forward from Kentucky, and Tyler Lydon could really shoot the three as a 6’10 stretch forward. Who knew that Mitchell would end up superstar, Lyles would end up averaging 2.8 points for the Spurs, and Lydon would be out of the league having recently been cut by the Sacramento Kings.
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