Colorado Rockies Rumors

Colorado Rockies trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Minor Moves: Parker, Cabrera, Walters, Hernandez, Stock

Some minor transactions from around the league and the independent circuit…

  • The Cubs have released right-hander Blake Parker, according to the MLB.com transactions page. Parker, designated for assignment yesterday, had not appeared in the big leagues this year. In his 3 1/3 innings at the Triple-A level, Parker permitted one earned run to score while striking out one and walking three batters. He does own a 3.68 career ERA in the majors, with a healthy 10.4 K/9 against just 2.9 BB/9.
  • Righty Daniel Cabrera has been released by the Reds, the club’s Triple-A affiliate tweets. The 33-year-old has not appeared in the big leagues since 2009, and spent each of the last two seasons playing in Japan. He made just one appearance at Louisville this season, going three innings and allowing one earned run but issuing four free passes and striking out only one opposing batter.
  • The Dodgers have signed right-hander P.J. Walters, who had been pitching with the independent Atlantic League’s Lancaster Barnstormers, reports Mike Ashmore of the Trentonian (Twitter link). The 30-year-old Walters should join L.A.’s Minor League ranks following the move. Though Walters has posted just a 6.28 ERA in parts of five Major League seasons with the Cardinals, Twins and Blue Jays, he does have a lifetime 4.70 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in Triple-A.
  • Former Twins left-hander Pedro Hernandez has signed a contract with the independent St. Paul Saints, the team announced. Hernandez was acquired along with Eduardo Escobar in the 2012 trade that sent Francisco Liriano to the White Sox. The now-26-year-old Hernandez struggled to a 7.33 ERA with 33 strikeouts against 26 walks in 66 1/3 Major League innings with the Sox, Twins and Rockies from 2012-14. He posted solid, if unspectacular numbers throughout much of his Minor League career until reaching the Triple-A level.
  • Right-hander Robert Stock‘s contract has been purchased by the Pirates, according to a tweet from the Normal CornBelters of the independent Frontier League. The 25-year-old hit the indy circuit after posting a 4.12 ERA with 43 strikeouts against 46 walks in 63 1/3 innings between the Cardinals’ Class-A and Class-A Advanced affiliates in 2014.

Adam Ottavino Has Partially Torn UCL

4:40pm: Ottavino says he is resigned to undergoing a UCL replacement, but will see Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion, Groke further reports.

4:24pm: Rockies reliever Adam Ottavino has a partially torn UCL, Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports. Ottavino is likely going to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery, per the report.

Entering the year, Ottavino was coming off of two straight seasons of quality production — over 143 1/3 innings in 2013-14, he owns a 3.08 ERA with 9.3 K/9 against 3.0 BB/9 — making him an obvious candidate to take over 9th inning duties. He earned the chance with an excellent start to the year, and had just been installed as the Colorado closer when he went down with triceps soreness.

In his 10 1/3 frames thus far in 2015, the 29-year-old righty allowed just three hits and two walks (and, unsurprisingly, no runs). On the other side of the ledger, he had already racked up 13 strikeouts.

It is unlikely that the Rockies will move to replace Ottavino with an outside addition, though perhaps a bullpen move could be made over the summer if the team is in the hunt. If Ottavino does in fact undergo the TJ procedure, Colorado will be without him until at least next summer.

The timing couldn’t be much worse for all involved. That includes, especially, Ottavino, who took home a relatively modest $1.3MM in arbitration this year. He would have stood to capture a big raise had he continued to dominate and rack up saves. For the Rockies, the loss takes away a big piece of their pen as well as a potentially significant trade chip. It also potentially sets the club up for a tough arbitration question next winter, though it seems likely that Ottavino’s price tag will be cheap enough — and his upside (including another year of control) great enough — to warrant a tender.


NL Notes: Brewers, Pirates, Rockies

There have been numerous reports about the Brewers trading veteran players and rebuilding. But they aren’t likely to do so this early in the season, if only because it’s hard to find trading partners, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. If the Brewers don’t start trading immediately, though, it doesn’t sound like it will be because of any lack of eagerness on their part. “Very few teams are open to taking on money at this time of year. You get similar answers: ‘We’re still looking at our club right now,'” says GM Doug Melvin. “The frustrating part is you would like to make some moves and do some things. But, early in the year, the only thing you can do is (between) your club and Triple-A.” Here are more notes from the National League.

  • Brewers first baseman Adam Lind could make a good trade target for the Pirates, ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets. The Pirates could certainly use more offense, but they already have a left-handed first baseman in Pedro Alvarez, and he’s one of a handful of players on the team not hitting poorly. The Bucs could also move Alvarez to third base and have Josh Harrison go back to a utility role, although that seems unlikely, given Alvarez’s extreme problems with throwing last season.
  • The Rockies have struggled in part because they haven’t been bold enough in their pursuit of starting pitching, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post writes. The team has been reluctant to make big commitments to starting pitchers since their deals with Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle went south, Saunders writes. Of course, one problem is that it’s very difficult to get free agent starting pitchers to play half their games in Coors Field. Instead, Saunders suggests the Rockies could make a bold trade for a top starting pitcher, the way the Royals did with James Shields.


Rockies Designate Jorge Rondon For Assignment

The Rockies have selected the contract of lefty Kenny Roberts and designated righty Jorge Rondon for assignment, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post tweets. The Rockies claimed Rondon from the Cardinals last November, and he got good results in a handful of outings at Triple-A, but to say his two outings with Colorado went poorly would be an understatement. He had a disastrous night Friday in San Diego, allowing eight runs, seven of them earned, without recording an out. He also allowed three runs in an inning in his other outing, which came against the Diamondbacks last week.

The 27-year-old Rondon has struggled to establish himself in the big leagues despite tempting velocity — his fastball has averaged over 95 MPH in his brief stints with both the Rockies and with the Cardinals last season. He spent much of 2014 with Triple-A Memphis, posting a 3.03 ERA, 7.4 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 62 1/3 innings.

Roberts, 27, had posted a 3.27 ERA so far this season had Triple-A Albuquerque, striking out eight and walking none. The lefty has a career 2.37 ERA in a slow climb through the Rockies’ minor-league system.


Injury Notes: Bradley, Moreland, Ottavino, Montero

The D-Backs announced today that they’ve placed right-hander Archie Bradley on the 15-day DL with a sinus fracture that was sustained in a frightening scene during last night’s game. Bradley was struck in the face by a line drive off the bat of Carlos Gonzalez, though he was eventually able to leave the field under his own power. The situation could have been much worse, considering the reported 115 mph exit velocity on the Gonzalez line-drive; indeed, Steve Gilbert of MLB.com writes that the D-Backs’ promising young righty should be able to return right after his DL stint. To this point in the season, Bradley had been a bright spot for the Snakes, working to a 1.80 ERA in 20 innings.

A few more injury-related notes worth keeping an eye on…

  • Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland underwent surgery today to remove bone chips from his elbow and will be out for at least two to three weeks, reports Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. This is already the second time that the issue has plagued Moreland this season, though the first occurrence was treated with anti-inflammatory medication and rest. However, the problem flared back up after Moreland made a diving play in the field, and he’s undergoing to procedure to prevent the elbow from “locking up” again.
  • Rockies closer Adam Ottavino told MLB.com’s Barry Bloom that he’s worried about the arm injury that landed him on the disabled list. Originally placed on the DL with triceps inflammation, further tests have revealed that the source of Ottavino’s discomfort is closer to his elbow. Ottavino will see team doctor Thomas Noonan when the team returns to Denver on Monday.
  • Mets right-hander Rafael Montero will have an MRI performed after reporting right shoulder discomfort following his most recent start, writes MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo. Montero was optioned to Triple-A following the outing, but as DiComo notes, the option would be rescinded if it’s determined that Montero is injured and would require a DL stint. The Mets have already lost Zack Wheeler for the season, and though Montero isn’t currently being counted on to contribute to the Major League rotation, an injury would thin their pitching depth and perhaps reduce the chances of a potential Dillon Gee trade down the line.

West Notes: Wandy, Rosario, Rockies

Here’s the latest from the game’s western divisions on a quiet morning:

  • The Rangers will purchase the contract of lefty Wandy Rodriguez in time for him to make a start tomorrow, as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. Rodriguez will only earn a league minimum salary, but will begin marching towards up to $1.8MM in available incentives with his first appearance. He spent all of camp with the Braves, who released him rather than taking on what would have been a $2MM base salary.
  • The Rockies have optioned former starting catcher Wilin Rosario to Triple-A in spite of his hot start in limited action, as Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports. Rosario seemed a plausible trade candidate over the offseason, though he was coming off of a tough 2014 and probably would not have drawn a palatable return. He has been productive at the plate since transitioning out of the regular backstop mix, but was not able to earn much playing time. Rosario was clearly disappointed by the move, though he said he expects it will be short-lived. It is worth noting that Rosario entered the season with 3.023 years on his service clock, meaning that a lengthy minor league stint could deliver an additional year of club control.
  • While the Rockies enjoyed a hot start, questionable pitching has dropped the team back to earth. Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post argues that the club has continued to exhibit a “defeatist attitude” in the way that it approaches outside acquisitions. That explains why the team settled for Kyle Kendrick instead of going hard for James Shields, says Kiszla, who disputes the Catch-22 conventional wisdom holding that the Rockies must overpay to get starting pitching but that the team will never again be baited into doing so.

NL West Notes: Kendrick, Tomas, Rockies

Howie Kendrick has been so impressive with the Dodgers in the early stages of the 2015 season that the team is very likely interested in discussing a long-term deal with Kendrick’s agents at Reynolds Sports Management, writes ESPN’s Buster Olney in his daily blog (ESPN Insider subscription required). As Olney explains, the team likely envisions Corey Seager manning shortstop in the long-term, and Hector Olivera could hold down the fort at third base, with Kendrick returning to the keystone on a multi-year pact. I’d note, however, that there are many who believe that Seager will eventually need to play third base, and in that scenario, Olivera would slide over to second base, so the fit isn’t exactly perfect.

Here’s more from the NL West…

  • The D-Backs‘ handling of Yasmany Tomas has many pundits scratching their heads, but manager Chip Hale tells MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert that he thinks being eased into the lineup will be beneficial to Tomas in the long run. “People are having a hard time believing it because he’s not getting at-bats every day, which is hard,” said Hale. “But he’s doing [work] offensively with our hitting coaches and then the strength coach; they’re really working hard to get him to where we think he needs to be to be an everyday player.” Tomas has the same translator, Ariel Preto, that worked with Yoenis Cespedes in 2012, when Hale was the Athletics’ bench coach, giving the two experience in helping a Cuban player acclimate to the Majors. Hale explained how difficult the transition became for Cespedes that year when he was thrown directly into the starting lineup, adding that he hopes the handling of Tomas will avoid that.
  • Interestingly, Hale’s comments don’t line up very well with those made by Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart on a recent MLB Network Radio appearance (Twitter link). Stewart said that the most important thing for Tomas is to get at-bats and play regularly at third base, adding that his contract will not determine whether or not he’s in the Majors.
  • Rockies players spoke favorably to Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post about the tougher attitude and culture around the team as well as the front office’s emphasis on making tough decisions to improve the immediate on-field product. The Rox cut Jhoulys Chacin in Spring Training, for example, despite his long tenure with the team and status as a clubhouse favorite. Left-hander Rex Brothers was sent to Triple-A despite his big league experience, Adam Ottavino seized the closer’s role almost immediately, and manager Walt Weiss has requested and been provided with significant input from the analytics department to drastically increase the amount of infield shifting in Colorado. The change starts with new GM Jeff Bridich, according to Corey Dickerson, who spoke highly of Bridich’s knowledge of players. “There is no messing around, not with this group,” Carlos Gonzalez told Saunders. “We are here to win now. We are not here to be patient.”

Quick Hits: Payrolls, DH, Suspensions, Trade Candidates

ESPN’s Jayson Stark examines the rising payrolls around the game, noting that even 10 years ago, just three teams has payrolls topping $100MM. This year, Stark points out, 22 clubs have $100MM+ payrolls. Stark spoke with Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski, Giants CEO Larry Baer and sports economics expert Andy Zimbalist about the change and its impact around the league. Dombrowski notes that the extra Wild Card added to each league has made teams more willing to spend, because more teams believe they can win, and he also discussed the impact of increased payrolls on roster construction around the league. Baer commented that the additional sources of revenue — namely, TV deals, I would presume — have made it easier for teams to sign players to long-term deals, because revenue is easier to project. Not that long ago, Baer notes, revenue was tied much more heavily to ticket sales, and signing a young player to an extension was riskier, because teams could only project revenue a few years out at a time.

A few more miscellaneous notes from around the league…

  • Baseball America’s Matt Eddy provides a thorough, comprehensive explanation of his belief that it’s time for the National League to adopt the DH rule. Eddy notes that pitcher productivity is at an all-time low, relative to the production of non-pitchers — even as the production of non-pitchers declines in its own right. One NL assistant GM spoke to Eddy about the advantage that AL teams have not only in interleague games in AL stadiums, but in the ability to rest their best players while still giving them four at-bats. Eddy also argues that because improving their offensive prowess doesn’t accelerate their timeline to the Majors — no pitcher will be promoted because he’s a good hitter or withheld from the Majors to work on his swing — there is neither means nor incentive to improve their hitting skills. Eddy views the DH and the pitcher as “two sides of the same, hyper-specialized coin,” noting that a DH contributes solely to the offensive element of a game, whereas a pitcher functions as the key constituent of the defense. Interestingly, a 2013 poll of 18 MLB managers revealed that 12 of those managers were in favor of adding the DH to the NL, Eddy adds.
  • Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post looks at the recent suspensions of Mariners lefty David Rollins, Twins right-hander Ervin Santana, Mets closer Jenrry Mejia and Braves prospect Arodys Vizcaino for Stanozolol and investigates a possible connection. Commissioner Rob Manfred said earlier this week that the league conducts an investigation anytime that there are multiple suspensions for the same banned substance, though he has no reason to assume a connection at this point. Kilgore spoke with subject matter expert Dr. Charles Yesalis about the tests and was told, “There is no way, in my mind, this is one big coincidence.”
  • Cole Hamels, Johnny Cueto, Carlos Gonzalez, Scott Kazmir and Adrian Beltre top a list of midseason trade candidates compiled by Jim Bowden of ESPN (Insider subscription required/recommended). Kazmir’s inclusion is interesting, in that Bowden expects a trade to occur whether the A’s are contending or not, as he notes that the team won’t be able to afford to re-sign Kazmir. He speculates that Kazmir will be flipped, possibly for another Major League caliber starter to step into his spot, though as I pointed out in reviewing their offseason, the A’s already have a sizable reserve of rotation options from which to draw.

NL West Notes: Tomas, O’Brien, Kennedy, Ottavino

Despite the high-profile signing of Yasmany Tomas this winter, the D-Backs will use him primarily off the bench in his first taste of Major League action, GM Dave Stewart told reporters, including Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Tomas was promoted today, due in part to a lack of other options on the 40-man roster, Piecoro writes. Arizona had few other position players both healthy and on the 40-man, but despite that fact, Stewart said he didn’t consider transferring injured pitchers Matt Stites or Patrick Corbin to the 60-day disabled list. Stewart feels that each is close enough to being healthy that he didn’t want to risk a move to the 60-day DL. The GM also noted that he has not considered making a trade to alleviate some of his logjam of outfielders.

More on the D-Backs and their division…

  • D-Backs prospect Peter O’Brien will go about a month without playing behind the plate, manager Chip Hale tells MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert. O’Brien will see some time in left field and at first base but is apparently receiving a mental break from catching after developing an issue throwing the ball back to the pitcher late in Spring Training. Clearly, that’s not the type of issue that any team wants to see from a player it has dubbed the “catcher of the future.” Common consensus among scouts and other organizations has been that O’Brien isn’t a good enough defender behind the plate to remain at the position, though he’s certainly hitting well enough to garner some attention early in the year. Through a small sample of 28 plate appearances, O’Brien’s batting .333/.357/.519 with a homer and two doubles. Many felt Arizona should have traded for catching help this offseason, but Stewart stated on multiple occasions that such a move was not the plan, partly because the club believed O’Brien could handle the position eventually.
  • Padres right-hander Ian Kennedy is nearing a rehab assignment, reports MLB.com’s Corey Brock. Kennedy is slated to throw a bullpen session on Friday, and if all goes well, he’ll join a Minor League affiliate and look to throw 75 to 90 pitches in a rehab start. It’s possible that Kennedy will need a couple of rehab outings, though he’d probably prefer to return to the field sooner rather than later. As a pending free agent, Kennedy has quite a bit riding on his 2015 performance.
  • Adam Ottavino has been named the new closer for the Rockies, writes Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. Manager Walt Weiss wasted little time this season in swapping the hard-throwing 29-year-old and former closer LaTroy Hawkins, who will now pitch in a setup or middle relief role. An effective season as a closer would do wonders for Ottavino in arbitration next offseason, as he’d stand to see a sizable raise from this year’s $1.3MM salary if he can accumulate a year’s worth of saves. Ottavino’s numbers over the past two seasons indicate that he can indeed thrive in the role, as he’s pitched to a 2.97 ERA with 158 strikeouts against 48 walks in 148 2/3 innings dating back to 2013. Of course, as a closer, he’ll be more exposed to lefties, who have given him trouble in the past, but Ottavino tells Saunders that he feels more comfortable against opposite-handed batters after making some adjustments and keeping them in check during Spring Training. Fantasy players, remember that you can keep up with all closer trends and performances by following @closernews on Twitter.

Pitcher Notes: Axford, Minor, Marmol, Hernandez

Yesterday, for the first time in nearly 15 years, five pitchers threw at least seven innings and allowed two hits or fewer, notes MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko. Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels, Milwaukee’s Jimmy Nelson, Baltimore’s Ubaldo Jimenez, Boston’s Joe Kelly, and Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer turned the trick. Bartolo Colon was one of the quintet from 2000 (then with the Indians) and was the Mets’ starting pitcher today and drove in a run for the first time since 2005. Time marches slowly in our national pastime.

In other hurler news from around baseball:

  • The Rockies have placed reliever John Axford on the family medical emergency list to tend to his two-year-old son, reports Nick Groke of The Denver Post. Doctors have had to remove all the tissue and skin at the spot of a rattlesnake bite Jameson Axford suffered last month (the incident is detailed by Groke), down to the tendon and bone. To replace Axford on the roster, the Rockies selected the contract of right-hander Scott Oberg and created a spot on the 40-man roster for the 25-year-old rookie, who will make his MLB debut, by moving infielder Charlie Culberson to the 60-day disabled list.
  • The BravesMike Minor has suffered a setback while rehabbing his left shoulder, but surgery is not under consideration for now, reports MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. “He’s experienced some discomfort as he’s started to stretch himself out,” Braves Director of Baseball Operations John Hart said. “So, we’ve brought him up here to have…our medical people take a look at what is going on. We don’t have any recommendation yet. At the moment, he’ll return to Florida to continue the rehab. But there’s obviously some level of concern because the discomfort came back.
  • Former closer Carlos Marmol held a showcase in the Dominican Republic today and displayed velocity in the mid-90s with a new arm slot, tweets MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. Marmol was released by the Reds last November, but has been pitching in the Dominican and Venezuela this winter. Over a nine-year MLB career with the Cubs, Dodgers, and Marlins, Marmol has a 3.57 ERA, 11.6 K/9, and 6.2 BB/9 mark in 577 innings with 117 saves.
  • Cuban right-hander Jorge Hernandez auditioned for 20 teams in the Dominican Republic and struck out 11 of the 18 hitters he faced, according to Sanchez in a separate tweet. The Twins did not have a presence at either the Marmol or Hernandez showcase, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.