The Braves had some talks with the Rockies about Nolan Arenado before the star third baseman was dealt to the Cardinals, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports (subscription required). Rosenthal also sheds some light on one of last offseason’s more intriguing rumors, the talks between the Rockies and Cubs about a trade involving both Arenado and Kris Bryant. Jason Heyward was also part of the negotiations at one point as the Cubs looked for payroll offset for Arenado’s contract, though the Rockies weren’t interested in adding any money beyond the 2021 season (which marks the end of Bryant’s current contract and when Arenado could have exercised his opt-out clause).
As Rosenthal notes, the Cubs could end up looking back on those talks as “a what-might-have-been” given that they’ll now be facing Arenado on a regular basis in the NL Central. From Colorado’s perspective, such a trade might not have been a clear win if a Rockies-bound Bryant had suffered a similar run of injuries that hampered him in the actual 2020 season, but it still might have drawn better reviews than their trade package from St. Louis. “Rival executives remain baffled by the deal,” Rosenthal writes, as the Rox rather inexplicably worked themselves into an unsalvageable situation with their best player.
More from the NL West…Also from Rosenthal, the Diamondbacks have been receiving some interest in Eduardo Escobar but the team doesn’t appear to much interest at the moment. If a trade happens at all, it might not happen until closer to the trade deadline if the Snakes aren’t in contention, since Arizona would want to give Escobar a chance to rebuild some proper trade value. Escobar struggled to a .212/.270/.335 slash line over 222 plate appearances last season, a major step down from his very solid performance in 2018-19. Signed to a three-year extension in October 2018, Escobar is also scheduled to hit free agency next winter, so he has all the more incentive for a bounce-back year.Brandon Belt underwent heel surgery in October, and the Giants didn’t give any specific timeline as to when the first baseman could be back in action. President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi shed a bit more light on the subject when talking to reporters (including Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area) this week, saying Belt was “not a certainty” and only “a possibility” to play on Opening Day. On the plus side, Zaidi said the team has been pleased by Belt’s rehab thus far, and more will be known once they get a look at Belt during Spring Training. Belt is coming off a huge year for San Francisco, though the team should be able to make do in the event of a relatively brief absence for Belt, due to the number of players on the roster with first base experience — Wilmer Flores, Austin Slater, Darin Ruf, regular catcher Buster Posey, and new addition Tommy La Stella.