Arenado excited for '17 with contract settled

Arenado excited for '17 with contract settled

DENVER -- Nolan Arenado calls money "one of my least-favorite topics ever." And with the two-year contract worth $29.5 million he signed on Friday to avoid arbitration, he doesn't have to worry about it as he prepares for 2017.

"Money doesn't do anything; I'm going to be putting pressure on myself because I want to be the best and be good at this game," Arenado said. "I take pride in it. I don't like to let the fans down, and I don't like to let my teammates down. That's why I'm my hardest critic."

Arenado's contract will pay him $11.75 million in 2017 and $17.75 million in '18, and it leaves a year of arbitration eligibility in '19.

Bridich on Arenado deal

"Over a couple days, each side kind of thought about it, without going into any specifics, and then we were able to quickly get things done today," Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich said.

Additionally, the Rockies signed their two other arbitration-eligible players -- center fielder Charlie Blackmon and right-handed starter Tyler Chatwood -- to one-year deals for 2017. The club already reached one-year deals earlier this offseason to avoid arbitration with relievers Jake McGee ($5.9 million) and Jordan Lyles ($3.18 million).

Arenado, who turns 26 on April 16 and is one of the game's top young stars, has tied for the National League home run crown each of the last two years -- 42 in 2015 to tie the Nationals' Bryce Harper and 41 last year to match Chris Carter -- and won a Rawlings Gold Glove Award in each of his first four Major League seasons.

Arenado also has led the Majors in RBIs the last two seasons -- 130 in 2015 and 133 last year. After hitting .287 in '14-15, he rasied his average to .294 last season, and his .362 on-base percentage was a career high.

He still seeks improvement, not only offensively, but also defensively -- even though he is the first third baseman in history to earn Gold Glove Awards each of his first four seasons. He made just one error before the All-Star break, and finished with 13.

"That's something that's been bothering me the whole offseason, how I went from that to that," Arenado said.

"My overall game needs to get better. You can find ways to get better. I could walk more. I could get more quality at-bats … hitting different pitches better, having more quality at-bats against better pitching, those things.

Arenado said he heads into Spring Training with high hopes for a Rockies team that has a solid lineup and young starting pitching. The club has added right-handed-hitting Ian Desmond for five years and $70 million this offseason and left-hander Mike Dunn to the bullpen for three years and $19 million.

"I like our chances," Arenado said. "I think we're good. I thought we were good no matter what. We have the talent. We have young guys that are getting better. We have a solidified rotation, which is really nice to know. That's a good start.

"We've got to get better, got to keep growing. But this is the year where we've got to take that next step and start winning games."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.