The signing of outfielder Gerardo Parra to a three-year, $27.5MM contract has led many to believe that the Rockies will trade one of their three incumbent left-handed hitting outfielders: Corey Dickerson, Charlie Blackmon or Carlos Gonzalez. However, GM Jeff Bridich doesn’t see a trade as a necessity, he said in an appearance on MLB Network’s Hot Stove this morning (via MLB.com’s Thomas Harding) and again at a conference call with reporters this afternoon (via the Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders).
“I know it’s popular to expect a trade, but it’s tough to put odds on it right now,” said Bridich on the conference call. “The last thing I want to do is apologize for bringing more talent into this organization. … Adding another professional, talented young outfielder is overall a good thing. Having too much depth is a good thing.”
Regarding reports out of Venezuela which surfaced recently and said that Bridich told Gonzalez that he wouldn’t be traded, the GM explained to MLBN’s Matt Vasgersian and Harold Reynolds that his words were somewhat misrepresented by the foreign media, calling it “overblown.” Rather, the GM told his outfielder that any report lacking Bridich’s own name was probably little more than a rumor or speculation and shouldn’t be taken to heart. Bridich spoke highly of Gonzalez, noting that while he wasn’t originally signed by the Rox, he grew up in the organization and has become a core part of the team in Denver. “He’s been one of the cornerstone guys for us,” said Bridich on MLBN. “So you have to think long and hard before you even consider listening on a guy like that. Just as much as he would be a value to another team, he’s a value to us.”
Not only did Bridich speak highly of Gonzalez, but Parra, too, voiced excitement about playing alongside his longtime friend. Gonzalez and Parra have been Venezuelan Winter League teammates dating back to 2005 and were also teammates on Team Venezuela in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, Saunders notes. “I feel really happy to play for the Rockies,” Parra said on today’s conference call with Saunders and other reporters. “I played against Colorado for many years and I like playing at Coors Field. I feel really, really happy to play with Carlos Gonzalez.”
While some might note that recent defensive metrics have called Parra’s glove into question, Bridich said in both columns that Parra “certainly improves our defense” whenever he takes the field. Not only that, Parra said he’d be comfortable playing center field, and Bridich agreed that Parra is capable of handling the position. Some could infer that said belief makes a trade of Blackmon, the incumbent center fielder more likely, though Bridich’s overall message in both appearances seems to be that a trade of an outfielder isn’t necessary.
That said, I have to admit that it’s personally difficult for me to envision a situation in which the Rockies enter the season with all four outfielders on the roster. Parra’s relative limitations against left-handed pitching eliminates the possibility of any sort of traditional platoon. And, considering the fact that Dickerson is a potential building block, it stands to reason that the team would want to maximize his playing time — especially coming off a season in which he lost quite a bit of time due to multiple DL stints resulting from plantar fasciitis. Blackmon was one of the Rockies’ better all-around players in 2015, and there’s no reason to expect that Gonzalez, who is owed $37MM over the next two seasons and is one of the team’s most productive hitters, would be in for a significant decrease in playing time.
That’s merely my own take on the situation, of course, and injuries could create opportunities for Parra to get into the lineup. The lengthy absences of Dickerson in 2015 and Gonzalez’s extensive injury history serve as reminders that there could very well be a need for another quality outfield option. Bridich, after all, said on MLB Network that he’s been getting calls “from the get-go” in what he characterizes as a “slow-moving” outfield market. And, despite the persistent interest and the addition of Parra, Colorado has yet to make a trade. However, Parra’s contract would make him a very expensive contingency plan if that’s the team’s ultimate vision for him.