The Rockies intend to add an innings-eater and a right-handed hitter this offseason, likely focusing on the trade market rather than free agency due to budgetary constraints.
- Todd Helton, 1B: $9.9MM through 2013
- Jorge de la Rosa, SP: $21MM through 2013, if '13 player option is exercised
- Huston Street, RP: $8MM through 2012, assuming club declines '13 mutual option
- Troy Tulowitzki, SS: $152.25MM through 2020
- Rafael Betancourt, RP: $4.25MM through 2012
- Ty Wigginton, 1B/3B/LF: $4.5MM through 2012
- Jason Hammel, SP: $4.75MM through 2012
- Matt Lindstrom, RP: $3.8MM through 2012
- Chris Iannetta, C: $3.8MM through 2012
- Matt Belisle, RP: $3.775MM through 2012
- Carlos Gonzalez, RF: $76MM through 2017
- Aaron Cook, unranked SP: $11MM mutual option with a $500K buyout
- Jason Giambi, unranked 1B: $1MM mutual option
Arbitration Eligible Players (estimated salaries)
- Seth Smith, RF: $2.6MM
- Dexter Fowler, CF: $2MM
- Ian Stewart, 3B: $2MM (non-tender candidate)
- Ryan Spilborghs, OF: $2MM (non-tender candidate)
Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd has his work cut out for him this offseason. The team needs an innings-eating starter, solutions at second base, third base, and left field, and a left-handed reliever. The Rockies will require significant trading and creativity to get back on top, if payroll is to remain in the low-$80MM range.
If all four arbitration eligible players are retained, the Rockies would appear to have less than $15MM in payroll flexibility next year. Fortunately, trade candidates abound in Street, Wigginton, Smith, Stewart, and Iannetta. Those five players will earn about $21MM in total next year — a quarter of the team's expected payroll. Iannetta is the least likely to be traded, as Wilin Rosario is probably not ready for full-time duty. O'Dowd projects Stewart and Smith as potential platoon players next year. If a full-time left fielder or third baseman is acquired, Stewart and Smith will become expendable. Street and Smith might be the only veteran Rockies with decent trade value, so O'Dowd may have to part with prospects to improve the team. The Rockies GM has implied that Stewart will be tendered a contract, but that may have been posturing.
200 innings is an arbitrary cutoff, but it's a level 39 pitchers reached in 2011. None of them were Rockies. Trade targets could include James Shields, Carl Pavano, Brett Myers, Jeremy Guthrie, Ricky Nolasco, Gio Gonzalez, and Jason Vargas. Gavin Floyd, John Danks, Mike Pelfrey, John Lannan, and Wandy Rodriguez have at least shown an ability to take 180+ innings. Finding that type of starter in free agency is less likely, and pitchers may still be reluctant to play in Colorado. An August waiver claim on Rodriguez showed the Rockies are willing to assume a commitment in the three-year, $36MM range. It seems odd the Rockies would consider trading prospects for any of the above pitchers when they had Ubaldo Jimenez set to earn $18MM over 2012-14. Obviously, O'Dowd feels strongly about Drew Pomeranz and Alex White. Additionally he probably felt Jimenez's stock would trend downward.
In the Rockies' search for a right-handed bat, Michael Cuddyer seems to possess some positive traits that Aramis Ramirez does not have. The free agent market also features left fielder Josh Willingham. From a trade standpoint, Michael Young, Carlos Quentin, Kevin Youkilis, Mark Reynolds, and David Wright are potential matches. It seems unlikely the Rockies will fill both third base and left field by acquiring regulars, so look for a platoon in at least one of the positions. Ellis is a candidate to return at second base, but that position does not appear to be of primary concern to Colorado. Similarly, left-handed relief is something the Rockies will address, but probably without making a major commitment.
The echoes from the July Jimenez trade will be felt this offseason, as O'Dowd prioritizes finding a replacement proven starter. The longtime general manager seems prepared to add a few more major trades to his resume toward making the 2012 club a contender.