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Here are the latest minor league transactions, with the newest moves at the top of the post. All moves reported by Baseball America’s Matt Eddy unless cited otherwise.
- Jesus Guzman elected free agency rather than accept a Triple-A assignment from the Astros, Union Radio’s Pascual Artiles reports (Twitter link). Houston outrighted Guzman off its 40-man roster earlier this month. Guzman was acquired from the Padres last December and hit .188/.272/.248 in 184 plate appearances in 2014.
- Second baseman Tony Abreu has elected to become a free agent, leaving the Giants organization. Abreu has been with the Giants for the last two seasons, appearing in three games with the team in 2014 and 53 in 2013. Abreu has 615 PA to his name since debuting in the majors in 2007, posting a career .254/.283/.373 line for the Giants, Royals, Diamondbacks and Dodgers.
- Second baseman Cord Phelps has elected free agency. Phelps played for the Orioles in 2014, appearing in three Major League games and hitting .259/.361/.388 over 403 PA at Triple-A Norfolk.
- The Dodgers re-signed left-hander Robert Carson. The southpaw posted a 5.74 ERA over 62 2/3 IP in the minors with the Angels and Dodgers in 2014, getting released by L.A.’s red team in May and signing with L.A.’s blue team a week later. Carson threw 33 innings for the Mets in 2012-13, posting a 6.82 ERA in his brief time in the Show.
- Left-hander Pedro Hernandez has elected to become a free agent, leaving the Rockies. Hernandez posted a 6.42 ERA in 88 1/3 IP for Triple-A Colorado Springs in 2014, and made one start for the Rockies in July. The southpaw has a career 7.33 ERA over 66 1/3 IP with the Rockies, Twins and White Sox since 2012.
- The Rockies released and then re-signed right-hander Simon Castro, according to the club’s official transactions page. He first signed with Colorado in April but didn’t pitch at all in 2014 due to injury. Castro was ranked as the game’s 58th-best prospect by Baseball America prior to the 2011 season while in the Padres farm system, and was dealt to the White Sox as part of the Carlos Quentin trade package in the 2011-12 offseason. His Major League experience consists of 6 2/3 IP with Chicago in 2013.
- Left-hander Cesar Cabral, most recently of the Yankees organization, has elected to become a free agent, Examiner.com’s Dan Pfeiffer reports (Twitter link). Cabral appeared in four games for the Yankees in 2014, totaling one inning pitched and allowing three earned runs. His Major League resume also includes 3 2/3 IP for New York in 2013. The southpaw has a 4.01 ERA, 2.58 K/BB rate and 420 strikeouts over 422 1/3 career minor league innings.
Despite an injury plagued 2014, Michael Cuddyer figures to be amongst the more heavily pursued free agent position players of the winter. The 35-year-old (36 by Opening Day) played in just 49 games in 2014, but his offensive numbers are more in less in line with his 2013 output and there’s always a market for effective bats with some pop. His last trip through free agency netted a three-year, $31.5MM contract and he’s now in position to land yet another lucrative deal.
Over the last three seasons in Colorado (280 games), Cuddyer owns a .307/.362/.525 batting line with 46 homers. His best work in Colorado came in the sandwich year of 2013 when he was NL batting champion with a .331 average at the plate. And, while Coors Field is the most hitter-friendly park in the majors, it wasn’t just the home altitude that helped Cuddyer knock 20 homers and post the NL’s fourth-highest slugging percentage (.530) in that season. The veteran hit eleven homers at Coors and nine dingers on the road in 2013. Meanwhile, his wRC+ (Weighted Runs Created Plus, explained masterfully by Fangraphs here) of 138 was the best showing of his career at the time, putting him well ahead of the league average and 14 percentage points above his previous watermark from Minnesota in 2009. In a smaller sample, he topped that with a wRC+ of 151 this past season.
Somewhat surprisingly, Cuddyer consistently posts average or better marks in baserunning value, according to Fangraphs. Cuddyer has a strong career BsR of 8.3 and his recent marks of 0.0, 1.1, and 1.3 in the last three seasons would indicate that he has been at least an average runner. At this point in his career, he’s probably not the fastest guy out there, but the numbers would suggest that he’s smart on the basepaths.
Cuddyer offers some versatility as he could be slotted in as a first baseman or an outfielder. He also won’t have a qualifying offer attached to him and won’t require the forfeiture of draft picks.
Cuddyer averaged roughly 150 games per year in his final three seasons with the Twins, which helped lead to his big payday in Colorado. Unfortunately, he’s averaged ~93 games per season since and saw time in just 49 games in 2014. In 2012, an oblique injury cost him the majority of August and all of September. He played 130 games in 2013, but a neck injury shelved him for two weeks in May. Last season, a painful shoulder fracture and a pair of strained hamstrings led to Cuddyer being mostly out of commission. Teams are sure to be wary about that as he approached his age-36 season.
Cuddyer has experience at multiple positions but he’s not Gold Glove material at any of them. For his career, Cuddyer has a -8.0 UZR/150 rating in right field and his -4.4 rating at first base also leaves much to be desired. Unfortunately, Cuddyer’s shaky defense has watered down his significant offensive contributions, especially in recent years. In 2013, despite his strong performance at the plate, he registered a rather pedestrian WAR of 2.4.
Michael and his wife, Claudia, have three children. When he’s not on the diamond, Cuddyer likes to indulge in his own favorite childhood pastime: magic. In 2012, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com asked an audience member for his take on Cuddyer’s skills.
“He’s blowing guys’ minds here,” Jason Giambi said of Cuddyer. “[The tricks] are as good as any I’ve ever seen, and trust me, I live in Vegas and I get to see a lot of those shows. They’re pretty incredible.”
As Cuddyer told Crasnick, he used the tricks as an icebreaker with his teammates when he arrived in Colorado. Then-GM Dan O’Dowd spoke highly of Cuddyer as a positive figure in the locker room.
“Not only is he a good player — and will be for a significantly long period of time — but if you talk to anybody in the game, he innately just ‘gets it.’ He challenges people in his own way to be all about the team,” O’Dowd said.
Cuddyer loves being in Colorado, owner Dick Monfort wants to keep him, and manager Walt Weiss hopes that he’ll return since he “means so much to [the] club, in ways that go beyond the stat sheet.” Unfortunately, monetary constraints will probably get in the way of a reunion. Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post recently wrote that it’d be hard to see the Rockies paying even $4-6MM for Cuddyer next season. You never know for sure how the market will break, but that probably won’t get it done.
The Pirates, Brewers, and Marlins are among the teams that are expected to shop for a first baseman and the Padres could be added to that list if they don’t have confidence in Yonder Alonso‘s abilities. Meanwhile, the Astros and Mets will be shopping for a corner outfielder and Cuddyer could fit within their budgets. Cuddyer also holds appeal as a DH so we could see a return to the American League in that role.
If Cuddyer was coming off of something resembling a full season, his contract outlook would be quite different. Given his age and health issues, a one or two-year deal seems likely but another three-year deal probably isn’t in the cards.
Still, there will be plenty of teams willing to give Cuddyer a substantial sum of money and it could even rival the average annual value of his three-year, $31.5MM Rockies contract. I predict Cuddyer will land a two-year, $22MM deal this winter. If he stays healthy, it may not be his last big payday either.
Here are Sunday’s minor moves from around MLB:
- Diamondbacks outfielder Nolan Reimold has elected free agency, per the club’s transactions page. After spending the first half of 2014 on the disabled list, Reimold, who turns 31 today, was released by the Orioles in July and promptly claimed by the Blue Jays where he batted .212/.283/.404. in 60 plate appearances. Reimold was then designated for assignment by Toronto in August and claimed by the Diamondbacks. The former top-100 prospect, who has been injury-plagued undergoing a pair of neck surgeries and an ankle operation, fared much better in Arizona, albeit in a smaller sample size, slashing .294/.278/.529 in 17 plate appearances.
- Catcher Bobby Wilson and infielder Ronny Cedeno have opted for free agency rather accept their outright assignment by the Diamondbacks to Triple-A Reno, according to the Pacific Coast League’s transactions page.
- Infielder Jeff Bianchi and catcher Matt Pagnozzi have declared their free agency by refusing their outright assignment to Triple-A Colorado Springs by the Brewers, reports Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
- Other players declaring free agency who saw MLB action in 2014, per the PCL and International League transactions page, are: Ian Stewart (Angels), Justin Germano (Dodgers), Clint Robinson (Dodgers), Mark Lowe (Indians), Greg Dobbs (Nationals), Jason Pridie (Rockies), and Danny Worth (Tigers).
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Arizona Diamondbacks | Bobby Wilson | Cleveland Indians | Clint Robinson | Colorado Rockies | Danny Worth | Detroit Tigers | Greg Dobbs | Ian Stewart | Jason Pridie | Jeff Bianchi | Justin Germano | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | Mark Lowe | Milwaukee Brewers | Nolan Reimold | Ronny Cedeno | Transactions | Washington Nationals
One of Jeff Bridich’s proudest accomplishments likely didn’t come up when he was bumped from senior directior of player development to GM of the Rockies. As a junior at Harvard, Bridich hit a two-run homer over Fenway’s Green Monster against UMass. Even though the Crimson ultimately lost 13-12, it remains a cherished family memory for Bridich, writes Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post. “Hitting a homer at Fenway was cool, but it’s more special because my dad did the same thing when he played for Harvard,” Bridich said. “He hit his to almost the same spot. Of course, my father did it with a wood bat, so that’s a little bit more impressive.” Here’s more out of the NL West..
- If the Dodgers move on from General Manager Ned Colletti, their top target appears to be Rays GM Andrew Friedman, according to Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times. A lot of great things happened under Colletti’s watch, including Clayton Kershaw becoming a Cy Young Award winner and Dee Gordon becoming an All-Star, but the new Dodgers owners view him as someone who gave away too much money to older players and built a shoddy bullpen.
- While toiling away in Triple-A last season, Giants first baseman Travis Ishikawa spent just two weeks with his family between February 1 and September 1. With little hope of getting back to the bigs, he nearly gave up on baseball to spend more time with his family back home, writes Alex Pavlovic of The Mercury News. “I thought about retiring. I was trying to figure out something else where I could be home and make money…Thank God I stuck with it,” the Giants’ unlikely hero said.
- Bridich understands the value of catching and Saunders wonders if that could affect his offseason plans. Russell Martin would be a tremendous get for the Rockies, but he’ll be a very hot commodity after the season he had in Pittsburgh. While the Rockies have Wilin Rosario and Michael McKenry behind the plate, there are limitations to what they can do.
Before resigning yesterday from his long-time post as general manager of the Rockies, Dan O’Dowd declined an offer of a multi-year extension from the team, MLB.com’s Tracy Ringolsby reports. The offer, in fact, was made just last week, according to Ringolsby.
Needless to say, this report puts a new spin on the club’s surprising decision yesterday to promote Jeff Bridich to the GM role without undergoing any publicly-reported hiring process. Colorado also announced yesterday that O’Dowd and fellow key baseball decisionmaker Bill Geivett would be leaving the organization.
Ringolsby says that O’Dowd was not pleased with the power-sharing structure that emerged after a front office shakeup in 2012. Though O’Dowd retained the GM title, Geivett — whose title was senior VP of major league operations — kept an office in the clubhouse and was charged with running the major league club.
In yesterday’s press conference announcing the hiring (story via Nick Groke and Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post), team owner Dick Monfort said he was “excited about a fresh start.” But he did not offer substantive comments about how the changing of the guard came about, and was not made available for questions from the media. (Note that the Rockies do not presently employ a team president.)
Today’s news regarding O’Dowd also seemingly makes sense of recent reports that suggested no major changes were afoot in Colorado. But it raises yet more questions about what manner of authority Bridich will have in his new role, with Monfort having come under fire from internal sources for inserting himself into baseball decisionmaking. While Bridich is by all accounts a well-regarded young executive, it remains to be seen — as Paul Klee of the Colorado Springs Gazette explains — what kind of decisionmaking structure Monfort will set up around him.
The Rockies have announced an unexpected front office shakeup, but will apparently not be making any upper-level additions from outside the organization for the time being. General manager Dan O’Dowd and senior VP of major league operations Bill Geivett — long the team’s brain trust — have resigned from their posts, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported on Twitter.
In their place, Jeff Bridich has been promoted to the general manager seat after previously serving as senior director of player development, as initially reported by MLB.com’s Thomas Harding (via Twitter). While a young, fresh voice at the highest tier of baseball operations offers the hope of jumpstarting an idling franchise, it remains to be seen whether new operating philosophies and improved results will follow.
Colorado now becomes the third NL West organization in recent months to find a new GM, though both of their division rivals underwent broad external searches to find their new leadership. The Padres replaced Josh Byrnes with former Rangers executive A.J. Preller, while the Diamondbacks displaced Kevin Towers in favor of player agent Dave Stewart.
O’Dowd had been ensconced atop Colorado’s baseball decisionmaking structure since the fall of 1999, when he was hired as the club’s general manager. Many of the team’s highs and lows have come under his watch. The failed signings of Denny Neagle and Mike Hampton were early mistakes, but O’Dowd put together the talent that led the Rockies to deep postseason runs in 2007 and 2009. Ultimately, though, the club posted winning seasons in only four out of fifteen seasons under O’Dowd.
That less-than-inspiring track record provided the impetus for a front office restructuring in 2012. Though O’Dowd retain his general manager title and position atop the authority structure, he ceded some authority to Geivett, who had joined the Rockies in 2000. As his title reflects, Geivett was placed in charge of running the club at the major league level. Indeed, he made his office in a room adjoining the clubhouse, a situation which seemingly led to some tension. Though it is somewhat difficult to know where to assign credit and blame, the club had a hit-or-miss record on recent trades and signings. The Justin Morneau deal, for example, has already been a clear win, while the Boone Logan signing looks worse now than it did when inked.
Ultimately, the move represents a shift from a recent report from Harding (and many others before it) that made significant change seem unlikely. Both Geivett and O’Dowd reported to owner Dick Monfort, who has an extremely active role in the organization, which operates without a president. Monfort did say over the summer that he held Geivett responsible for the team’s performance. But as Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reported recently, internal discord has arisen over (among other things) the level of Monfort’s involvement in baseball decisionmaking.
It remains to be seen what decisionmaking structure and processes the Rockies will employ with Bridich now in the GM seat. He becomes just the third general manager in the club’s history. His predecessor, O’Dowd, had been the fourth-longest-tenured GM in the game.
As Harding explains, the 37-year-old had been in charge of the club’s player development system since the fall of 2011 — a role that made him, in the words of Saunders (Twitter link), “O’Dowd’s right-hand man.” Per Harding, Bridich came to Colorado in 2004 as manager of minor league operations. He became senior director of baseball ops in 2006, a role that involved transactional and contractual matters including arbitration. Prior to joining the Rockies, Bridich had a stint in the commissioner’s office after graduating from Harvard, where he played baseball as an undergraduate. Click here for an interesting recent interview with Bridich, regarding his work in player development, from Brian VanderBeek of the Modesto Bee (h/t to Saunders).
Photo courtesy of Brian VanderBeek/The Modesto Bee.
Here are the latest minor moves from around the game.
- 1B Daric Barton (Athletics), OF Tyler Colvin (Giants), OF Justin Maxwell (Royals), SP Jair Jurrjens (Rockies), RP Wilton Lopez (Rockies) and R Troy Patton (Padres) have all elected free agency, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy tweets.
- Seven former Blue Jays have elected free agency, Eddy tweets. Among them is first baseman Dan Johnson, who the Jays outrighted earlier this week. Johnson collected 48 plate appearances in Toronto this season, but spent most of the year with Triple-A Buffalo, hitting .232/.381/.434 in 459 plate appearances there. The others who elected free agency are shortstop Jonathan Diaz, outfielders Cole Gillespie and Darin Mastroianni, and pitchers Bobby Korecky, Brad Mills and Raul Valdes.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Bobby Korecky | Brad Mills | Cole Gillespie | Colorado Rockies | Dan Johnson | Daric Barton | Darin Mastroianni | Jair Jurrjens | Jonathan Diaz | Justin Maxwell | Kansas City Royals | Oakland Athletics | Raul Valdes | San Diego Padres | San Francisco Giants | Toronto Blue Jays | Transactions | Troy Patton | Tyler Colvin | Wilton Lopez
Another hot start raised expectations in 2014, but regression and injuries once again combined to doom the Rockies. Colorado seems intent on fielding a competitor, but it remains to be seen whether it will have the payroll flexibility needed get there.
- Troy Tulowitzki, SS: $118MM through 2020 (including 2021 option buyout)
- Carlos Gonzalez, OF: $53MM through 2017
- Jorge De La Rosa, SP: $25MM through 2016
- Justin Morneau, 1B: $7.5MM through 2015 (including 2016 option buyout)
- Boone Logan, RP: $11.75MM through 2016
Arbitration Eligible Players
- Drew Stubbs, OF (5.047): $5.7MM projected salary
- Jhoulys Chacin, SP/RP (5.012): $4.9MM projected salary
- Rex Brothers, RP (3.117): $1.3MM projected salary
- Michael McKenry, C (3.097): $1.5MM projected salary
- Adam Ottavino, RP (3.087): $1MM projected salary
- Juan Nicasio, SP/RP (3.083): $2.4MM projected salary
- Jordan Lyles, SP (3.060): $2.5MM projected salary
- Tyler Chatwood, SP (3.039): $1MM projected salary
- Wilin Rosario, C (3.023): $3.6MM projected salary
- Non-tender candidates: Chacin
- Brett Anderson, SP: $12MM club option ($1.5MM buyout)
- LaTroy Hawkins, RP: $2.25MM club option ($250K buyout)
With the Rockies, it seems, the real issues reside not in the details of roster construction, but in the philosophical and strategic direction of the organization. Critiques of the decisionmaking structure – and, in particular, owner Dick Monfort and the two key front office executives Dan O’Dowd and Bill Geivett — have migrated from fans and former players to internal sources. Yet it still seems rather unlikely that the team will undergo any kind of front office shakeup, or that the organization’s general approach will change.
Barring a major shift in front office personnel or in operating style, it is not clear what the Rockies can do to change the outlook for next year in a significant way. As things stand, the team appears stuck in a difficult middle ground – albeit one that has not gotten in the way of reliably above-average attendance figures. What are the options going forward?
On the one hand, the club has shown an utter lack of inclination to trade away any of its veterans for future resources. Despite being well out of contention this year, and having a few potential candidates (some playing on expiring contracts), Colorado did not pull the trigger on any summer deals.
Indeed, to the contrary, Monfort was said to have pulled the plug on a deal that would have sent veteran starter Jorge De La Rosa to the Orioles in exchange for a quality prospect arm in Eduardo Rodriguez. Instead of dealing the 33-year-old De La Rosa, the Rockies later inked him to a two-year, $25MM extension. To be sure, it may have been difficult for the team to convince a better arm to pitch at Coors Field for that kind of scratch, and De La Rosa has an excellent track record at altitude. But adding the promising Rodriguez and instead pursuing one of the many mid-level free agent starters (including, perhaps, De La Rosa himself) would have made for a nice alternative.
Even with De La Rosa back, contention in 2015 – while not unimaginable — would be a surprise. Colorado has few glaring holes in the lineup, but the pitching staff is coming off of a season characterized by injury and ineffectiveness.
Then, there is the payroll to consider. Player salaries are expected to land in the mid-$90MM range again, about half of which is already slated to go to De La Rosa and stars Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. The total guaranteed commitment lands at about $61MM, but that is before accounting for arbitration raises that could cost nearly $25MM and decisions on options the club holds over Brett Anderson and LaTroy Hawkins.
In short, the Rockies have little room for addition without first making some subtractions. But where to trim salary?
It has often been wondered whether and when the Rockies would consider dealing either of their two stars in an effort to reload. But season-ending surgeries for Tulo and CarGo make that difficult to imagine, and Monfort has sent signals that he has no such intention. Senior VP of Major League operations Bill Geivett recently shot down that idea as well: “If we’re going to win, they’re going to need to be part of it, too.”
Beyond those two cornerstones, there are any number of hypothetical possibilities to free up a little cash. Let’s take a closer look, in the context of the overall roster:
The Rockies lineup is largely in place, unless the team decides to explore some changes. Gonzalez will presumably occupy one corner outfield spot, while some combination of younger players – Corey Dickerson, Drew Stubbs, Charlie Blackmon, and Brandon Barnes, many of whom are coming off of breakout years – can be expected to combine to make up a solid unit. Colorado reportedly has some interest in bringing back Michael Cuddyer, but that appears to be quite a luxury.
Among the outfielders, only Stubbs presents the realistic possibility of a cost-saving trade given his $5.7MM projected hit. But he is the best center field option of that group, and may not bring much in return with just one year of not-inexpensive control remaining (not to mention the fact that his big numbers last year were driven by a .440 BABIP at Coors). But his combination of power, speed, and defense could make him a reasonably marketable asset.
In the infield, the diamond appears set at three spots: short (Tulowitzki), third (Nolan Arenado), and first (Justin Morneau). Trading the veteran Morneau could deliver some savings and bolster other needs, with first base being entrusted to Wilin Rosario or prospect Kyle Parker. But that would take away one of the team’s best bats from last year, and the club seemed disinterested in shopping him at last year’s trade deadline.
The Rockies are not without options at the other infield positions, but they offer the greatest possibility for movement. At the keystone, DJ LeMahieu is a reliable defender who just has not contributed much with the stick (career 76 OPS+). Josh Rutledge offers more promise at the plate, but defensive metrics have little regard for his glove. With free agent pickings looking slim, the Rockies might be best served by dealing away one of these still-young players while pursuing a left-handed-hitting utility option – the late-blooming Rafael Ynoa is an in-house possibility — to platoon with whoever remains.
Most interesting, perhaps, is the situation at catcher. Rosario has failed to impress the team behind the dish, and took a step back offensively in 2014. He appears to be a trade candidate, though Colorado would certainly not be selling at an opportune time. And while Michael McKenry was a nice surprise last year, he seems more likely headed for a backup or platoon role. If the Rockies are to make a run at a top free agent, Russell Martin looks like an excellent fit on paper, but he figures to draw strong interest elsewhere and may be out of Colorado’s comfort zone financially.
Ultimately, the possibilities noted above could be driven by whether a pitching acquisition requires cash or a trade chip. As things stand, improving upon the team’s uninspiring group of arms is surely the priority.
In the rotation, De La Rosa will likely be joined by two players who had relative breakout years in Jordan Lyles and Tyler Matzek. That trio contains enough questions of its own, but things get even less clear thereafter. Tyler Chatwood is shelved with his second Tommy John procedure, Jhoulys Chacin looks like a lottery ticket (shoulder problems) or non-tender candidate, and Juan Nicasio is said to be slated for the bullpen. Younger arms like Jon Gray, Eddie Butler, and (to a lesser extent) Christian Bergman and Tyler Anderson offer some hope in the relatively near future. But it would be optimistic to expect too much of that group in 2015. Otherwise, the team is left with questionable depth options like Yohan Flande.
So, what can the Rockies do to bolster that group? The option over Anderson is too risky to be considered seriously: $12.5MM for a full season of a healthy Anderson is an attractive enough proposition, but the lefty has not thrown even 50 frames in a MLB campaign since 2011.
Convincing Anderson to return for a lesser amount makes theoretical sense, but runs into a major practical concern: why would he choose to take a pillow contract to throw half his innings at Coors Field? This same problem, of course, could limit Colorado’s ability to take advantage of the rest of a deep market for mid-tier starters – including some, like Justin Masterson and Brandon McCarthy, who induce ground balls at a solid clip. Even if Colorado can clear enough salary next year to afford an arm of that nature, it would likely need to make a multi-year commitment that could hamstring the organization when it is more likely to be in a position to contend.
The trade route is an alternative to free agency. One could imagine the Rockies matching up with a team like the Mets on some kind of swap of an outfielder for an arm. Rosario probably has enough upside to be an important part of a deal for a useful pitcher. To be sure, adding a reliable hurler with an attractive contract situation would presumably require the sacrifice of some significant portion of the organization’s best prospect talent. But Geivett has said that the team wants to add “impact” even if that means getting an aging hurler.
Relief pitching was every bit as problematic for Colorado last year. Two lefties remain in place — the disappointing Boone Logan and the struggling Rex Brothers – leaving the team with the option either to fiddle with that area or simply hope for improvement. Hawkins is expected to occupy the ninth inning to start the year, which at least provides a ready answer to the question of who will close. Former closer Rafael Betancourt is said to be a possible re-acquisition. And the team has options for right-handed setup men and middle relievers, including Nicasio, Adam Ottavino (who pitched well in 2014), Rule 5 pickup Tommy Kahnle, and surprising 29-year-old rookie Brooks Brown. Improving the production from the pen, then, could be as straightforward or as complicated as the team prefers. With every dollar being watched, it might make the most sense to let the market shake out and pluck a few veterans who miss out on the deals they hoped for.
The difficulty for the Rockies is, in the end, not hard to assess: the team is in position to add a piece or two, but it is more than a piece or two away from being a reliable contender. Stretching future resources to add a player like Martin, or overpaying in AAV and/or years to convince a starter to pitch in Denver, increases the risk of a prolonged malaise. From a competitive perspective, it probably makes sense to craft a strategy of exchanging veterans for future talent. But, then, that was already clear this summer.
Top Astros prospect Carlos Correa — the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft — has changed representation and is now a client of Greg Genske and the Legacy Agency, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). In other agency news, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation’s MLB Daily Dish tweets that Rockies right-hander Tyler Chatwood has switched agents as well and is now a client of agent Bob Garber. He had previously been with MVP Sports.
A report from ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick earlier this week indicated that Correa was leaving his previous agents at KMG and seeking new representation, having talked with Legacy, the Boras Corporation, MVP and Excel Sports. The Puerto Rican shortstop ranked second on the midseason edition of MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects list, and he ranked third on the same lists from Baseball America and ESPN’s Keith Law (Insider subscription required).
Correa, who recently turned 20 years old, was in the midst of an outstanding season with Houston’s Class-A Advanced affiliate this season despite being nearly four years younger than the league’s average age at 19 before breaking his fibula while sliding. He batted .325/.416/.510 with six homers and 20 steals in 293 plate appearances before his injury. In his scouting report, Law noted that Correa has improved at every stop on both sides of the game, giving him a chance to stick at shortstop defensively. Both his power and plate discipline progressed faster than even some optimistic scouts had expected, Law adds.
Chatwood, 24, had a breakout season with the Rockies in 2013, posting a 3.15 ERA with 5.3 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and a 58.5 percent ground-ball rate in 111 1/3 innings. However, he tossed just 24 innings in 2014 before his season would come to an end with an injury that would eventually require Tommy John surgery. Chatwood underwent his operation on July 19, so it’s possible that he could return to the Rockies late in the 2015 campaign. He will be arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason. As Cotillo notes in a second tweet, Chatwood had previously left the Boras Corporation for MVP back in January.
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Barring a last-minute change of heart from owner Dick Monfort, the Rockies are not prepared to undertake significant changes to their front office, reports MLB.com’s Thomas Harding. Likewise, that decision-making group seems set to try to build a contender while relying primarily on the same major pieces that remain under team control.
Senior VP of Major League operations Bill Geivett spoke with Harding on the club’s roster. “We like the team that we have,” he said. “When the majority of them are out there, we feel good about our chances. At the same time, we look at next year and we know our pitching staff, we need to improve, and we need to be able to score runs on the road.”
While not surprising under the circumstances, Geivett indicated that the team has no intentions of dealing its two biggest stars (and two biggest contracts) shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez. “If we’re going to win, they’re going to need to be part of it, too,” he explained.
Geivett said that the club’s focus was on improving a pitching staff that was among the least effective in baseball last year. “We need impactful starting pitching,” said Geivett. “We’re not going to check his ID. We don’t care how old he is. We don’t care how much time he has. In order to compete against the teams we play with, we know starting pitching is essential.”
Those comments certainly seem to indicate that Colorado will not be concerned with the future in looking for arms for 2015. At the same time, the club is reportedly not preparing to increase its payroll, and current commitments seem to leave fairly little to spend. Adding another starter would obviously help, given the massive uncertainty that permeates much of the team’s rotation (to say nothing of the bullpen), but it it is far from clear that such an acquisition — in and of itself — would make the team a likely contender.
Geivett himself has a lot riding on the coming season. Monfort made clear recently that he holds Geivett responsible for the product that takes the field at Coors. On the other hand, as Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post recently reported, internal team sources are frustrated with the owner’s own intrusion on baseball decision-making.