"I'm not that concerned that we wouldn't have a shot to keep him at the end of the year. Now, if he goes out and wins 17 or 18 games, that's going to be somewhat problematic. But I hope he does, because that means we're going to be in pretty good shape."
O'Dowd did not face that good kind of problem in 2010, as De La Rosa missed ten weeks with a torn tendon in his finger. The lefty still hopes to re-sign with the Rockies, as he told Jim Armstrong and Troy E. Renck:
"I would love to come back. I really like it here. But I don't know if it makes sense for them to bring me back."
From the Rockies' point of view, it's still difficult to know what to expect from De La Rosa moving forward. Since returning from the DL on July 9th, he's got a 4.82 ERA, 8.1 K/9, 4.3 BB/9, and eight home runs allowed in 52.3 innings. His groundball rate remains high, so his home run rate should come down.
In March Armstrong said the Rockies offered three years and about $11MM to cover the 2010-12 seasons. Now he and Renck say De La Rosa actually rejected a two-year offer in the $9MM range, with a club option for '12. The pitcher earned over 60% of that amount in 2010 alone, so his agent at TWC Sports was right to advise turning down the Rockies' offer.
David Price, Francisco Liriano, and C.C. Sabathia – those are the only other lefty starters who have a harder average fastball than De La Rosa this year (70 inning minimum). De La Rosa doesn't turn 30 until April, and he'll rival polar opposite Ted Lilly as the best free agent southpaw available after Cliff Lee. De La Rosa could find upwards of a three-year, $24MM offer, but it's always scary to sign a guy walking a batter every other inning.