Next year’s would-be biggest free agent is getting signed before Bryce Harper.
Nolan Arenado and the Rockies are finalising an eight-year contract extension worth $360 million ($US260m), which would make the outstanding third baseman the owner of the highest average salary of any position player in baseball at $US32.5 million per year.
The deal includes an opt-out after three seasons and a no-trade clause, ESPN reported, and replaces his final, record-setting payday for an arbitration-eligible player of $US26 million this season.
Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera previously was the best-paid-by-year position player at $31 million, but Arenado will not be challenging Giancarlo Stanton’s $US325 million for highest total or Zack Greinke’s $US34.42 million for highest average for any player.
It also will set a new bar for Harper to beat if he wants to take away the title for highest position-player average, as he flirts with the Phillies, Giants and Dodgers, all offering various structures for deals, some guaranteeing the length he wants, some guaranteeing the average he wants.
The Yankees were believed to be strong suitors for Arenado if the 27-year-old hit the market next season.
The four-time All-Star and six-time Gold Glover is the type of two-way, non-controversial superstar that Harper and Manny Machado aren’t, and the Yankees are fielding a still-growing and still-learning Miguel Andujar at third.
Harper remains the most wanted man in baseball, while Machado last week agreed to the richest free agent contract in American sports history, a 10-year Major League Baseball deal worth $AUD420 million with the San Diego Padres.
Arenado has helped the Rockies reach back-to-back postseasons while averaging 40 home runs and 126 RBIS over the past four years.
Although the is yet to be formally announced by the Rockies, Arenado told USA Today he was happy to stay in Colorado.
“It’s such a great place,” Arenado said.
“I really enjoy the fact there’s a comfortability here. You know the coaches. You know the players. Some of my best friends are on this team.
“I grew up here in this organisation, so it feels like home in a way. I’ve been here since the tide has changed, and that’s a really good feeling.
“I was part of that change. You want to win in a place where you’ve been all of your life.”