2:24pm: SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets that the two sides settled on a $3.175MM salary.
12:35pm: The Rockies announced today that they’ve avoided arbitration with right-hander Jordan Lyles on a one-year deal. Terms of the contract weren’t disclosed. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had pegged Lyles, a Ballengee Group client, for a $3.3MM salary in 2017.
Lyles, 26, missed the majority of the 2015 season with a foot injury and split the 2016 campaign between the Rockies and the team’s Triple-A affiliate. Formerly a starter with the Rockies and Astros (and a well-regarded prospect in the Houston farm system), Lyles shifted to a bullpen role for the bulk of this past season but struggled to a 5.83 ERA in 58 2/3 innings. Lyles averaged a career-low 4.9 strikeouts and averaged a career-high 4.3 walks per nine innings in his time at the big league level this past season. Those struggles led us to peg him as a potential non-tender candidate, but he’ll return despite his troubles. Lyles’ 51.5 percent ground-ball rate this past season was encouraging, as was the fact that he allowed just four homers in his 58 2/3 frames despite pitching at Coors Field. He also saw his fastball velocity trend upward, settling at a career-best average of 92.9 mph after moving into a short-relief role.
With five years and 21 days of big league service under his belt, Lyles is one year away from reaching the open market, so demonstrating some form of improvement next year will be of extra importance for the former No. 38 overall draft pick. With Jon Gray, Tyler Anderson, Tyler Chatwood, Chad Bettis, Jeff Hoffman, German Marquez and Eddie Butler all in the rotation mix, it might be difficult for Lyles to get back into a starting role in 2016. However, if he’s able to perform capably in a multi-inning relief role, he’d still boost his 2017-18 free agent stock nicely.