The Rockies’ payroll will increase in 2017, owner Dick Monfort said today at the press conference to introduce new manager Bud Black (via Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post). “Our payroll will be higher this year,” said Monfort. “It will be a record this year.” Colorado already entered the 2016 season with a $112MM payroll that represented an all-time high for the team, but Monfort said that next year’s mark will further set a record high.
While Monfort doesn’t specify to what extent the payroll will rise, some level of increase looked evident even from a distance. As MLBTR’s Jason Martinez notes over at Roster Resource, Colorado already projects for a $112MM payroll next season before even making a single addition to the roster. While the team only has $66MM guaranteed to seven players (including Jose Reyes, who will spend 2017 with the Mets), the Rockies have a stacked arbitration class that is headlined by superstar third baseman Nolan Arenado and center fielder Charlie Blackmon; MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects that between Arenado, Blackmon, Jake McGee, Tyler Chatwood and Jordan Lyles, the Rockies are looking at an additional $36.3MM. Rounding out the roster with pre-arbitration talent would add another $10.5MM to account for the remainder of that figure.
That Monfort indicated with confidence that an increase is likely, though, is notable due to the fact that it casts some doubt on the notion that the Rockies could entertain trades of well-compensated players like Blackmon (projected at $9MM) and Carlos Gonzalez ($20MM). Retaining both outfielders while also addressing the team’s needs in the bullpen, at first base and potentially behind the plate would indeed push the Rox into uncharted territory. Monfort’s comfort with that fact, plus the strides taken by young arms like Jon Gray and Tyler Anderson as well as the hiring of a veteran manager such as Black suggest that the Rockies could well feel that the time for them to push for contention in the National League West is at hand.