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Cardinals' Nolan Arenado seizes 6th Platinum Glove award; Delvin Perez elects free agency

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Nolan Arenado

Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado throws to first base to get an out in the first inning of Game 2 of their National League Wild Card playoff series against the Phillies on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022, at Busch Stadium.

Sports columnists Ben Frederickson and Jeff Gordon discuss what Arenado walking away from a shot at free agency should mean for the team moving forward.

The most decorated third baseman of his generation has widened the range of his reputation as one of the finest fielders at any position in the history of Major League Baseball’s defensive awards.

Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado received his sixth consecutive Platinum Glove Award for the National League during an event Friday night hosted by Rawlings in New York City.

It is the sixth consecutive year Arenado has won the award for the finest fielder at any position from the St. Louis-based Rawlings.

No other player has won more than four Platinum Gloves.

During the event in New York, Arenado was presented with his 10th consecutive Gold Glove Award, an honor he received based on advanced analytics and a vote of coaches and managers. His 10 Gold Glove awards ties Mike Schmidt for the second most at third base, and only Brooks Robinson has more with 16.

Arenado is the first player to win 10 consecutive Gold Glove awards to start his career, and he’s the first infielder to win at least that many consecutive Gold Glove honors since Ozzie Smith won 13.

Earlier this season, All-Star third baseman Adrian Beltre, a two-time Platinum Glove winner in the American League, told the Post-Dispatch that Arenado is “the best by far” that he’s seen at third base. Arenado, 31, has developed his own style for third base that seems inspired by a mix of shortstop and soccer striker — he’s aggressive with his throws, willing to throw on the run or in the air like great middle infielders, and he finds space to operate and meet the ball, like few others.

“What I appreciate the most is his intensity,” said Toronto third baseman Matt Chapman, a past Gold Glove-winner at the position and high school teammate of Arenado’s at El Toro in Lake Forest, California. “He’s in every single pitch, he’s ready, he expects the ball to be hit to him every single pitch, and that’s why he doesn’t miss. That is something that I kind of picked up from him growing up a little bit. It’s just that he’s always focused. He’s ready. He’s obviously got great arm, great feet. The mental side of it — he’s locked in.”

Arenado had the potential to become a free agent this offseason but elected not to opt-out of his contract and remain with the Cardinals through at least 2027. Acquired through a complex trade with Colorado in February 2021, the Cardinals are hopeful that Arenado will finish his career in their jersey.

This year’s Gold Glove Awards featured, for the first time, a utility award, and Brendan Donovan received it as the first Cardinals player at any position to win a Gold Glove in his rookie season.

All Gold Glove winners in each league are eligible for the Platinum Glove. Voting for the award, which is sponsored by SABR, ran online through the first week of November. The winner in the American League for the Platinum Glove was Yankees catcher Jose Trevino, who wears his hat backward under his mask because Yadier Molina does.

Trevino is the first catcher to win the American League’s Platinum Glove.

Rawlings, the St. Louis-based manufacturer of MLB’s official baseballs and the creator of the Gold Glove awards more than six decades ago, introduced the Platinum Glove honor in 2011. Cardinals catcher Molina and Beltre were the first winners of the award that year.

Molina won four of the first five and is second to Arenado in total wins.

First-rounder Perez among MILB free agents

Delvin Perez, a 23-year-old shortstop and former first-round draft pick by the Cardinals, was one of 16 minor-leaguers to elect free agency on Friday. The moves were listed on the various Cardinals’ minor-league affiliate transaction pages.

As a 17-year-old from Puerto Rico, Perez was the No. 23 overall pick in the 2016 MLB draft. He reached Class AAA for the first time in his career this past season, and he began playing various positions to capitalize on his defensive skill and prepare for use as a utility player. In six seasons within the Cardinals’ farm system, he batted .250 with a .322 on-base percentage and a .322 slugging percentage. His on-base percentage this past season was .315 with a slugging percentage of .314.

Perez was ranked as high as No. 8 on some draft prospects lists, but a positive test for a performance-enhancing drug that he took to help him add weight before the draft led him to slip down the board far enough for the Cardinals to take him at No. 23. He received a $2.2 million bonus.

In 2017, Baseball America ranked Perez as the third-best prospect in the Cardinals system and, three years later, he was rated as having the best infield arm. But offensive struggles this past season and the rise of another shortstop prospect in Masyn Winn added obstacles in a potential path to the majors for the Puerto Rico native.

Winn is set to be the starting shortstop at Class AAA Memphis in 2023.

The other Cardinals minor-league players that elected free agency on Friday included veteran lefty reliever T.J. McFarland along with pitchers Johan Quezada, Garrett Williams, Ljay Newsome, Zach McAllister, Jacob Bosiokovic, Tyler Pike, Domingo Robles and Enrique Saldana.

Position players Austin Allen, Julio E. Rodriguez, Roberto Baldoquin, Clint Coulter, Cory Spangenberg and Brady Whalen all elected free agency as well.

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