- Rockies first baseman Mark Reynolds will not require surgery on his fractured left hand, MLB.com’s Thomas Harding tweets. His single season contract with Colorado is nevertheless already in the books, with the 33-year-old heading back onto the open market after the year. Over 441 plate appearances, Reynolds put up a .282/.356/.450 slash line with 14 home runs — good for approximately league-average overall production given that he played his home games at Coors Field. That’s not a terribly appealing batting line for a player who is limited to first base duties at this point, but he’ll surely still draw interest at least as a bench bat.
Rockies first baseman Mark Reynolds has a broken bone in his left hand and will be out the rest of the season, MLB.com’s Thomas Harding tweets. Reynolds left today’s game after being struck by a fastball from Jose Dominguez of the Padres, as Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post tweeted earlier today.
Reynolds spent time on the 15-day DL last month due to a hamate bone injury in his left hand before making a remarkably quick return. It’s unknown whether the injuries are related, but it isn’t much of a stretch to guess that they are. Gerardo Parra has collected playing time at first base over the past few weeks, and seems likely to continue to do so with Reynolds out and with David Dahl, Charlie Blackmon and Carlos Gonzalez manning the outfield positions.
The Rockies signed Reynolds to a one-year, $2.6MM deal last offseason, and heading into today, he had batted .281/.354/.442 in 438 plate appearances in Colorado. Those look like fine numbers, but they’re far from outstanding for a player in Coors Field, particularly one without much defensive value. Ominously, Reynolds — once one of the league’s most prolific home-run hitters — swatted just 14 long balls (including one today). It remains to be seen, of course, how his hand injury will affect his power, but the possibility of a further power decline surely will be on teams’ minds this offseason when they think about whether to acquire Reynolds.
Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post doubts the Rockies will bring back manager Walt Weiss, whose contract expires after the season, but he argues that it would be hypocritical of loyalty-preaching owner Dick Monfort to let Weiss go. “It’s a bottom-line business,” said Weiss, with whom the Rockies have gone 279-355 since 2013. At 71-77, the Rockies are currently on track to post their best record under Weiss, who deserves a two-year deal, opines Kiszla. Colorado’s talent has clearly increased lately, as evidenced by 24-year-old right-hander Jon Gray’s complete game, 16-strikeout performance in an 8-0 win over San Diego on Saturday. Weiss agrees, telling Kiszla, “There’s more talent in the stable than in the past. With the horses in this stable, there are more thoroughbreds.
- The recent emergence of another talented Rockies player in his early 20s, Raimel Tapia, has added to an already crowded outfield, writes the Denver Post’s Nick Kosmider, who adds that the team will have some interesting offseason decisions to make because of it. Kosmider wonders if the Rockies will once again deal an outfielder to upgrade their weak bullpen during the offseason. Colorado tried that last winter, sending Corey Dickerson to the Rays for Jake McGee, but the left-hander has been part of the problem for the Rockies’ beleaguered relief corps this year. Among the Rockies’ outfielders is offseason signing Gerardo Parra, who inked a three-year, $27.5MM deal in free agency. Parra, like McGee, has been a major disappointment in his initial season with the Rockies, but the club does like that he has shown an ability to play first base. “How much time he gets over there in the future, I don’t know. But it’s nice to be able to have that,” general manager Jeff Bridich told Kosmider.
The Rockies haven’t been in contact with Carlos Gonzalez about a contract extension, the outfielder told Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. Gonzalez noted that he is interested in exploring his options as a free agent following the 2017 season, though it’s worth noting that he told Saunders last week that he is still open to the idea of an extension to remain with the Rockies. Earlier this summer, Gonzalez denied asking for a trade and expressed excitement over the idea of remaining in Colorado to play alongside the young players who could lead the Rockies back into contention.
Almost all of the chatter about Gonzalez’s future in recent years has been centered around a possible trade, particularly after the Rockies dealt another high-priced cornerstone star in Troy Tulowitzki in 2015. Gonzalez’s original extension (the seven-year, $80MM pact that runs through 2017) with the team raised quite a few eyebrows at the time, though it would be even more of a surprise if he re-upped for another long-term deal with the Rockies. One would think the Rockies would have to show some significant progress on the field in 2017 to entice Gonzalez to stay, unless the team pays a premium to extend him this offseason and keep him from reaching the open market.
Overpaying to lock up a player with a significant injury history for his age-32 season and beyond may not be a great idea for a team with a limited budget like Colorado. Elsewhere in Saunders’ mailbag piece, however, he floats the idea of the Rockies re-signing Gonzalez and then using him as a first baseman (with occasional outfield work). The move would help keep Gonzalez healthy while also freeing up a crowded Colorado outfield situation that also includes Charlie Blackmon, David Dahl and Gerardo Parra.
Gonzalez rebounded from several injury-plagued seasons to deliver healthy and very productive campaigns in both 2015 and 2016, and he looks to be one of the top hitters available in the 2017-18 free agent class. J.D. Martinez leads the market, though other available bats (Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas and potentially Justin Upton if he opts out of his Tigers contract) carry some health question marks or lack Gonzalez’s strong track record. The market could shift if Jose Altuve, Ian Kinsler or Logan Forsythe become available, though all seem like no-brainers to have their club options exercised.
- In the latest edition of the On The Rox podcast, Patrick Saunders and Jeff Bailey of the Denver Post discuss several Rockies-related topics, including what the team should do this offseason to sustain what Saunders feels is a slim window to contend. Other discussion points include the Rockies’ ill-fated bullpen acquisitions last winter, Walt Weiss’ future in Colorado and the possibility of Bud Black as a managerial candidate.
- “No great offers” emerged last winter for Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, according to the report. But Colorado may be wise to shop him again in a few months, Heyman writes, as the team’s glut of left-handed-hitting outfielders could represent an opportunity to improve in other areas. Gonzalez is hitting a productive .300/.350/.523, even if it is aided by playing at Coors Field, and is owed a reasonable $37MM over the next two seasons. It’s worth noting, too, that the club could potentially not only turn that contract into some intriguing, younger assets, but would also free up a good bit of payroll space to deploy on the open market.
- Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich will face several important decisions during the offseason, observes Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. In addition to the fate of manager Walt Weiss, whose contract expires at season’s end, Bridich will have to address a few areas on the diamond – including the bullpen and outfield. While the Rockies have a glut of capable outfielders, which might open the door for a trade, they could use more quality relievers to complement the likes of Adam Ottavino and perhaps Boone Logan, who’s an impending free agent. Saunders wonders whether the Rockies will pursue Nationals closer Mark Melancon, a free agent-to-be who’s a Colorado native, but he concedes that the team is unlikely to spend big money on anyone. That should rule out Melancon as a possibility.
Barnes would have been eligible for free agency following the season unless the Rockies had again added him to their 40-man roster, at which point he would have become eligible for arbitration. It’s little surprise, then, that they’re willing to part ways with him.
The 30-year-old Barnes has been useful in the past due to his ability to play solid defense at all three outfield positions, but his career seems to have hit a wall of late. He batted a meager .220/.250/.320 in 109 plate appearances this season, well below his career mark of .242/.289/.356. He also wasn’t terribly impressive in the good hitting environment of Triple-A Albuquerque, batting .282/.323/.416 in 255 plate appearances there this year.
The Rockies announced last night that first baseman Ben Paulsen and utility man Rafael Ynoa have been outrighted off the 40-man roster after being designated for assignment earlier in the week. Both players have the requisite minor league service time to qualify as free agents this winter.
The 28-year-old Paulsen mashed at a .284/.329/.479 clip in 420 plate appearances from 2014-15 with the Rockies, though those numbers are inflated by Coors Field and by the fact that his left-handed bat was largely shielded from left-handed pitching. This season, he batted just .217/.258/.304 in 97 PAs with the Rox and posted a fairly pedestrian .278/.331/.434 in the hitter-friendly Triple-A Pacific Coast League.
Meanwhile, the 29-year-old Ynoa went hitless in five plate appearances with Colorado’s big league club this year. He saw quite a bit of time in the Majors last season, slashing .260/.277/.339 in 131 PAs. Ynoa has nearly 1900 innings of experience at shortstop in the minors in addition to more than 4900 innings at second base. He’s also logged time in the corner outfield and at third base in both the Majors and minors. He’s a lifetime .274/.344/.364 hitter in the minors.
The Rockies announced on Tuesday that they’ve designated first baseman Ben Paulsen and infielder Rafael Ynoa for assignment. Their 40-man roster spots will go to infielder Pat Valaika and first baseman/outfielder Jordan Patterson, whose contracts have been selected from Triple-A Albuquerque. The Rox recalled catcher Dustin Garneau and righties Eddie Butler and German Marquez from the minors as well.
Paulsen, 28, entered the 2016 season with an opportunity to emerge as a platoon partner for Mark Reynolds, having slashed .284/.329/.479 with 15 homers in 420 plate appearances between the 2014-15 seasons in Colorado. Paulsen OPSed better than .800 with the Rockies in those two seasons, but he struggled to a .202/.247/.286 in 89 plate appearances at right-handed pitching this year. His work at the Triple-A level was solid but didn’t stand out as much as it did in previous seasons, as he slashed .278/.331/.434 in 78 games at Albuquerque.
Ynoa, meanwhile, tallied just five plate appearances with the Rockies in 2016 and went hitless. He’s appeared in the Majors with the Rockies in each of the past three years, batting .281/.306/.372 over the life of 207 PAs — numbers that are roughly in line with his lifetime .280/.339/.386 slash at the Triple-A level. Neither Ynoa nor Paulsen has received much prospect fanfare over the seasons, though Paulsen did crack Baseball America’s list of Top 30 Rockies prospects prior to the 2011 and 2012 campaigns.
Patterson, meanwhile, rated as Colorado’s No. 20 prospect this winter, per BA, and is currently 18th on MLB.com’s list of top Rockies prospects. The 24-year-old hit .293/.376/.480 with 14 homers in 119 games with Albuquerque this year, and he draws praise from both BA and MLB.com for his plus raw power and strong arm. While both reports feel that he can handle an outfield corner due to his athleticism, arm and average speed, the Rockies already have four left-handed-hitting outfielders on the roster in Gerardo Parra, Charlie Blackmon, Carlos Gonzalez and David Dahl. As such, Patterson could get a look at first base down the stretch as the Rox attempt to evaluate internal options in advance of the 2017 season.
The 23-year-old Valaika — the younger brother of former big league infielder Chris Valaika — has split the season between Double-A and Triple-A, batting a combined .257/.297/.425 with 14 homers, 41 doubles, four triples and 10 stolen bases. He’s seen time at shortstop, second base and third base in each of the past three minor league campaigns but has spent the bulk of his time at shortstop.