2023 Dodgers Trade Deadline Targets: 3B Nolan Arenado, Cardinals

Hi there. It’s been a while.

But enough about me, let’s talk about Nolan Arenado and why the Dodgers should be targeting him by the Aug. 1 trade deadline.


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The Dodgers had a bit of a revolving door at third base since, well, Ron Cey (and Adrian Beltre, I suppose). Then came Justin Turner, who stabilized the position for the better part of nine years. The Dodgers chose not to re-sign him, and he ended up in Boston. Now, Max Muncy is handling the hot corner at a not-so-great rate, defensively: -3 defensive runs saved, -4 outs above average. However, his 121 wRC+, .801 OPS and 25 home runs make the slightly below-average defense much more tenable.

Arenado, 32, hasn’t been his usual stellar self on defense this season (-5 DRS, 0 OAA), but it’s hard to put a ton of stock into single-season defensive metrics, especially since he was at +19 DRS and +14 OAA just last season. And while he’s, without a doubt, one of the best defensive third basemen in MLB history, his bat is the more attractive calling card these days. Since leaving the hitter’s haven of Coors Field, he has proven that he wasn’t a product of that environment. He has hit .277/.336/.516 with a 132 wRC+ and a .239 isolated slugging mark. All of those have made him an All-Star for his two-plus seasons in St. Louis, a Silver Slugger and a third-place MVP finish in 2022.

He’s in the midst of an 8-year, $260 million deal and ended up getting an extra $15 million and a year added on when he didn’t opt out of his deal at the conclusion of the 2021 season. With the Rockies still on the hook for $15 million through 2026, the total commitment (as best I can tell) for Arenado would be four years (plus the remainder of his 2023 salary — about $13 million) and $94 million. It may seem like a lot for a player who will be 33 a few weeks in to the 2024 season, but seeing as the Dodgers are paying an elite hitter like Freddie Freeman a pretty penny well into his 30s, Andrew Friedman and Co. may not be against doing that for again (and yes, Arenado isn’t as good a hitter as Freeman). Turner feels like a better comp, though, even if he has never been near the caliber of defender that Arenado is.

Arenado also has a full no-trade clause, so he can dictate where he goes. That might actually help the Dodgers, because it’d be hard to see him waive the clause to go to many other places.


While the Cardinals aren’t exactly shopping Arenado, they might be smart to move off him now while they can still get a good amount back for him. And they’re in the market for pitching, so the Dodgers seems like a pretty good match. I’ll do a couple of proposals. And no, the Dodgers’ acquisition of Amed Rosario doesn’t change the fact they should still go after Arenado.

Proposal 1

To STL: 2B Michael Busch, RHP Nick Frasso, RHP Landon Knack, RHP Kyle Hurt

To LA: 3B Nolan Arenado

The Cardinals have some talent in their pipeline, but it could be improved. Moving off Arenado would allow them to shift either Brendan Donovan or Nolan Gorman to third base, play some combination or Busch, Donovan and Gorman at second base, and DeJong could stay at shortstop until Masyn Winn arrives next year. While they can’t fully “replace” Arenado, they have a decent amount of coverage to try to make up for his loss. They’d also be able to allocate that money they were paying Arenado to upgrade elsewhere going forward.

Frasso would be the near-ready arm with swing-and-miss stuff the Cardinals want, while Knack is another pitcher who could be ready by sometime next year. Yet another near-ready pitching prospect in Hurt could make the deal just a little bit sweeter for the Cardinals. Other feasible options include Nick Nastrini or Ryan Pepiot to replace Frasso, or Maddux Bruns or Ronan Kopp to replace Knack if the Cards are willing to wait longer, depending on how the market shapes up (and the Angels may have just ruined it in their Lucas Giolito deal).

The Dodgers would be getting their third baseman for the foreseeable future. It would also allow them to shift Muncy to second base (career 6 DRS, -1 OAA at the keystone), which would allow Mookie Betts to return to right field more regularly, which would, in turn, lessen the playing time for Jason Heyward and David Peralta (more the latter than the former). It would also let Chris Taylor be an option in the outfield against lefties and make occasional appearances at shortstop. There would be a ton of moving parts, but the team should end up being better off for it as the lineup would lengthen with another quality bat and the defense should improve as well.

Proposal 2

To STL: 2B Michael Busch, RHP Ryan Pepiot, LHP Maddux Bruns, RHP Landon Knack, C/2B Yeiner Fernandez, RHP Kyle Hurt
To LA: 3B Nolan Arenado, RHP Jack Flaherty, RHP Jordan Hicks

This would be quite the midseason blockbuster, but with Flaherty and Hicks set to hit free agency after the season, it might behoove the Cardinals to move them because it’s unlikely a team would sign them if they were extended the qualifying offer (which also seems unlikely). There’s scuttlebutt of the Cardinals wanting to work out an extension with Hicks, and while that makes more sense than when the Rockies extended Daniel Bard last year, it’d also be highly questionable. This would allow the Cardinals to get three MLB-ready arms in Pepiot, Knack, and Hurt, an MLB-ready bat in Busch, a high ceiling pitcher in Bruns, and a strong catching prospect in Fernandez. Apart from the others already mentioned, Jorbit Vivas and Payton Martin could be names brought up as replacements in any deal.

Aside from Arenado, the Dodgers would get a back-end rotation starter with some upside (albeit with career-low velo), and a reliever with back-end stuff that will raise the floor of the pen at minimum. Paying extra for Jordan Montgomery might be the best option here, but this general idea of a trade could work to plug as many holes as possible.


Rumor has it the Dodgers’ interest in Arenado is legitimate. The local kid has long been linked to the Dodgers for that very reason, and this might be the time they actually acquire him. With the trade options appearing lackluster, Friedman might opt to be more aggressive and land a guy who isn’t exactly being shopped.

Landing Arenado now would also help replace J.D. Martinez‘s production going forward, because the Dodgers probably aren’t re-signing him (especially if they truly have their sights set on Shohei Ohtani). The argument could easily be made that the Cardinals shouldn’t trade Arenado, but if they’re going to before his contract expires at the end of the 2027 season, there might not be a better time than now.

About Dustin Nosler

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Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosted a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He was a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times and True Blue LA. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.