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The Rockies Nolan Arenado fields the ball during a game at Coors Field. Courtesy of the Colorado Rockies

The Life Cycle of a Rockies Star

Todd Helton is the only Rockies great to spend his entire career with the team. Could third baseman Nolan Arenado be the next superstar to be shipped out of town?

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The scuttlebutt of the offseason was that the Rockies may have been willing to trade superstar third baseman Nolan Arenado. Those rumors left many Rockies fans experiencing déjà vu. In the team’s 27-year history, it’s employed five perennial MVP candidates (Arenado included). Just one, Todd Helton, played his entire career with the team, while the other three—Larry Walker, Matt Holliday, and Troy Tulowitzki—were shipped out of town. Here, we plot the trajectories of those players’ careers with the Rockies and consider whether Arenado could be the next great athlete to become a former Rockies player.

Larry Walker

1995: The right fielder finishes seventh in MVP voting and leads the Rockies to their first playoff appearance during his first year with the team.
March 1999: Walker inks a six-year, $75 million extension.
1999–2004: The Rockies produce just one winning season in Walker’s final six years.
August 2004: The future Hall of Famer is traded to the St. Louis Cardinals so he can try to win a championship.

Todd Helton

1998: The first baseman nabs a second-place finish in Rookie of the Year voting.
1999–2006: Despite Helton’s five all-star appearances, the Rockies only have one winning season.
April 2003: He nets a new nine-year, $141 million contract.
2007 & 2009: Helton finally makes the playoffs.
August 17, 2014: After hanging up his cleats following the 2013 season, Helton becomes the first Rockies player to have his jersey retired.

Matt Holliday

2004: The left fielder finishes fifth in Rookie of the Year voting.
2007: Holliday’s .340 batting average helps the Rockies make their second postseason trip ever.
Spring 2008: He turns down a four-year $82 million contract extension because it doesn’t include a no-trade clause.
Summer 2008: The team finishes 74-88 as Holliday struggles with injuries.
November 2008: Holliday gets traded to the Oakland Athletics and then signs a deal with the St. Louis Cardinals the next offseason.

Troy Tulowitzki

2007: The shortstop finishes second in Rookie of the Year voting.
2009: Tulowitzki leads the Rockies back to the playoffs.
November 2010: A 10-year, $157 million contract extension could potentially keep Tulo in Denver through 2020.
2011–’14: Injuries plague Tulo; the Rockies never win more than 74 games in a season.
July 2015: New general manager Jeff Bridich trades Tulo to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Nolan Arenado

2013: The third baseman snags his first of seven straight Gold Gloves.
2017-’18: Arenado helps the team make back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time.
February 2019: He signs an eight-year, $260 million contract extension.
2019: The team goes 71-91. Following the last game of the year, an exasperated Arenado says, “It feels like a rebuild.”
Winter 2019-’20: Trade rumors swirl. Reports suggest the Cardinals may be the favorite to land Arenado, but as of press time he was still a member of the Rockies.

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