This is the latest entry in MLBTR’s Offseason In Review series. The full index of Offseason In Review posts can be found here.
The Rockies obviously see an opportunity to contend in 2017, and made some hefty commitments over the winter to bolster that possibility. But ongoing pitching questions and a slate of spring injuries have clouded the outlook somewhat.
Major League Signings
- Ian Desmond, IF/OF: five years, $70MM (includes $2MM buyout of $15MM club option)
- Mike Dunn, RP: three years, $19MM (includes $1MM buyout of $6MM club/vesting option)
- Greg Holland, RP: one year, $7MM (includes $1MM buyout of mutual/vesting player option)
- Alexi Amarista, IF: one year, $1.25MM (includes $150K buyout of $2.5MM club option)
- Total spend: $97.25MM.
Trades And Claims
Notable Minor League Signings
- Domonic Brown, Matt Carasiti, Stephen Cardullo, Noel Cuevas, Chris Denorfia, Evan Grills, Ryan Hanigan, Mark Reynolds, Josh Rutledge (claimed in Rule 5 draft)
After addressing the open managerial job with the hiring of Bud Black at the opening of the offseason, the Rockies had a wide-open slate of possibilities. The team could conceivably have pursued a variety of trade scenarios involving such established stars as Carlos Gonzalez and Charlie Blackmon. Instead, the club ended up keeping its core intact and adding the old-fashioned way: through some pretty big spending on the open market.
There were two major openings on the position-player side entering the winter: first base and catcher. Colorado elected to plunk down a lot of cash to add a productive veteran, but the player chosen came as quite some surprise. When the news broke that Ian Desmond was headed to the Rockies, it was generally assumed that he’d be playing in the outfield, with one of the team’s left-handed hitters — Gonzalez, Blackmon, Gerardo Parra, or perhaps even David Dahl — likely to be traded to address another need. Instead, the Rox stuck to their initial suggestion that Desmond would play first, though the organization notes that it values his versatility now and into the future. (More on that below.)
Behind the dish, the Rockies bypassed opportunities to pursue veterans via trade or free agency, where names like Matt Wieters, Jason Castro, Welington Castillo and (on the trade front) Brian McCann were available. Instead, the organization decided to rely on Tony Wolters, Tom Murphy, and Dustin Garneau. Murphy, who seems to have the greatest upside of the bunch, will be on the DL to open the year, so the Rockies made a late move to add veteran Ryan Hanigan.
Alexi Amarista was added to replace departing utilityman Daniel Descalso, but otherwise a bunch of friendly faces will be taking the field at Coors. In addition to the outfielders named above, high-power/high-strikeout shortstop Trevor Story is back from injury; Nolan Arenado and 2016 NL batting champion DJ LeMahieu will look to repeat their strong 2016 seasons at third and second base; and Mark Reynolds will return to first base (he re-signed on a minors deal) until Desmond, who suffered a fractured finger in Soring Training, is healthy. Rounding out the bench is Stephen Cardullo, an indy ball find who surprisingly spent time in the bigs last year.
Of course, the lineup was always seen as a strength for Colorado. Entering the winter, most expected the club to focus on pitching. Though the rotation finally had shown signs of life, it wasn’t exactly overloaded with established arms, and the bullpen had some clear holes.
The latter group got the attention that was expected, and then some. In addition to tendering a contract to Jake McGee despite his poor first year with the organization, Colorado gave Mike Dunn a surprising three-year deal and beat the market to roll the dice on Greg Holland, the once-elite reliever who’ll be returning from Tommy John surgery. That makes for one pricey relief corps. When you add the 2017 salaries of those three pitchers to what’s owed Adam Ottavino, Jordan Lyles, Chad Qualls, and the just-designated Jason Motte, the tab for this season alone lands just under $30MM.
But the rotation was another story. Content to keep its lefty-heavy outfield mix intact, and enamored of the relatively untested options on hand, the Rox did not add a single starter over the offseason.