In addressing the three biggest needs for the Rockies heading into the offseason, I advocated that the team trade away Carlos Gonzalez and his hefty $20MM salary. You can read the full reasoning here, but it boils down to the fact that he’s expensive and isn’t as necessary to the organization given its other left-handed-hitting options and many other needs. The emergence of David Dahl gives the Rox three southpaw-swinging outfielders, and it’s probably sub-optimal to have so many resources tied up in such players.
Still, there’s an argument to be made that Colorado ought instead to pursue deals involving another player. Charlie Blackmon’s monster 2016 season and two affordable years of control make him a highly appealing piece, especially with numerous rival organizations in the market for a center fielder. Of course, he’s also the Rockies’ primary option up the middle, though there are some alternative strategies.
The club could conceivably pair Gerardo Parra with a cheaper right-handed-hitting bat in center. Free agents such as Rajai Davis, Austin Jackson, Peter Bourjos, and Drew Stubbs should all be available on short-term deals. If trusting Parra up the middle isn’t desirable, Jon Jay or Michael Bourn could fill that role. Colorado could even provide a highly appealing bounceback locale for Carlos Gomez, though he’ll likely cost nearly as much as Gonzalez.
Parra himself could also be moved, though that would involve eating some salary. The Rockies owe him another $19.5MM over two years, including the buyout on a 2019 option. That’s a reasonable-enough commitment for the Parra of old, but he posted a 65 OPS+ in an injury-marred 2016 — which followed up a disappointing second-half run with the Orioles in 2015.
Dahl, meanwhile, only debuted last year, and seems much more likely to represent a foundational piece in Colorado than trade fodder. He spent most of his time in the minors in center field, and appeared a few times there last year, so could potentially step in for Blackmon rather than occupying a corner spot. Certainly, trading him now wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense for a team with limited willingness to spend. His development, following numerous other success stories on the position player side, demonstrates that the Rockies may be well-situated to ship out position players who are closer to free agency in exchange for pitching, as they did last year with Corey Dickerson. The team has struggled to attract free agent arms (or, at least in the past, to develop their own) even as they churn out quality bats.
Dealing Gonzalez or Blackmon would hold out the promise not only of opening some salary, but also of bringing back some interesting pieces in return. The Rockies are always hunting for pitching, of course. Even if the team is in better shape in the rotation than it has been in years, there’s room to add there. And the bullpen remains an area of concern. Plus, Colorado has needs behind the plate and at first base that could be addressed.
So, let’s put it to a vote … should the Rockies pursue a trade of an outfielder, and if so which one? (Link for mobile users.)