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The Nolan Arenado trade to the St. Louis Cardinals sent shockwaves throughout baseball.
After spending his first eight big league seasons with the Colorado Rockies, third baseman Nolan Arenado will be suiting up for the St. Louis Cardinals after the two teams executed a blockbuster trade.
Arenado had grown frustrated with the Rockies’ directionless rebuilding effort. The 29-year-old perennial Gold Glove recipient joins a Cardinals team that has now forced its way into the NL pennant conversation. As for Colorado, the Rockies fall even further back in the Senior Circuit hierarchy. Let’s take a look at how the National League stacks up with Spring Training set to begin in a couple of weeks.
2021 National League power rankings post-Nolan Arenado trade
Tier I: World Series contenders
Los Angeles Dodgers
Until proven otherwise, the National League belongs to the defending World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Atlanta Braves are three-time defending NL East champions and were one win away from getting to their first World Series since 1999.
San Diego Padres
Last year’s resurgence to relevancy was no fluke, as the San Diego Padres will likely be the best Wild Card team to make the 2021 MLB postseason behind MVP candidate Fernando Tatis, Jr.
St. Louis Cardinals
By adding Arenado, the Cardinals have without question emerged as the presumptive favorite to win the National League Central.
New York Mets
Unless GameStop continues to cost new owner Steve Cohen millions, the New York Mets added enough offensively with the trade of Francisco Lindor to complement its strong pitching staff
Tier II: Wild Card contenders
It is win-now mode for the Philadelphia Phillies, but do they have enough balance or consistency to be anything more than a Wild Card contender?
The gap between them and the Cardinals in the NL Central is massive, but the Chicago Cubs may have enough residual as last year’s division champions to push for a Wild Card spot this season depending on what other moves they make in the offseason.
The Miami Marlins emerged a year or two ahead of schedule, but can they be as good playing a 162-game schedule?
The Washington Nationals are only two years removed from winning a World Series, but they feel the like worst team in the best division in baseball, albeit not by much.
Starting pitching helped propel the Cincinnati Reds into the expanded postseason field, but they are a major regression candidate in 2021 because ownership will not spend the big bucks to keep this team intact and could trade ace, Luis Castillo, before the deadline.
Tier III: Not expected to contend for the postseason
Despite being the worst team to make the expanded postseason field out of the NL a season ago, there is a reason we just cannot quit the Brewers just yet, and that reason is probably Christian Yelich.
San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants can make great strides this season in the NL West, but they are no better than the third-best team in the worst division in the National League.
There is just not a lot to be excited about Arizona Diamondbacks baseball, as they feel like a lock to finish well below .500.
Hitters may continue to put up their stats in Coors Field, but the Rockies just traded away their best player for pennies on the dollar.
The Pirates are more likely to get the No. 1 pick in the MLB Draft than compete for a playoff spot.
Overall, the Cardinals went from a likely one-and-done in the postseason to a team capable of getting to the NLCS and possibly representing the National League in the 2021 World Series. Arenado makes the Redbirds easily the most powerful team in their division. If they can get a top-two seed in the National League, it might propel them to the Fall Classic with this revamped corps.
At the very least, the Arenado trade has made the Cardinals a serious World Series contender.