With Ian Desmond now in Colorado and free agent slugger Mark Trumbo a candidate to join him, the Rockies may soon have a surplus of quality position players. Center fielder Charlie Blackmon’s name was already in the rumor mill before the Rockies agreed to a five-year, $70MM deal with Desmond on Wednesday, so the odds of the team moving him have perhaps increased since. General manager Jeff Bridich responded to that Wednesday, telling reporters – including Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post – that the Rockies “have not had any intention of trading” Blackmon. At the same time, he didn’t rule it out.
“As I’ve said before, we’re just going to keep our ears open and eyes open,” said Bridich. “That’s just part of the business.”
If the Rockies do deal Blackmon, odds are they’ll try to acquire starting pitching in return – especially if they sign Trumbo. Picking him up would likely push Desmond from first base to an outfield that, in addition to Blackmon, currently includes Carlos Gonzalez, David Dahl and Gerardo Parra. But Colorado fully intends to play Desmond at first, sources told Saunders, which could certainly affect both Trumbo and Blackmon. Regardless, the Rockies are indeed searching for a high-end starter, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link), and acquiring a major rotation piece would have to come via trade thanks to the weakness of this year’s free agent class. One front-line starter in whom the Rockies have interest is Toronto right-hander Marcus Stroman, but the Blue Jays are unwilling to swap him for Blackmon, reports Jon Morosi of MLB Network (Twitter link).
Although the Blue Jays are in need of outfield help, something Blackmon would certainly provide, their reluctance to part with Stroman isn’t particularly surprising. After all, Stroman exceeded the 200-inning barrier and posted a 60.1 percent ground-ball rate in 2016, and ERA estimators like FIP (3.71), xFIP (3.41) and SIERA (3.62) indicated that he deserved better than his 4.37 ERA. Moreover, the 25-year-old Stroman is far younger than Blackmon, 30, and is under team control for longer. Stroman is set to make his first of four possible trips through arbitration this offseason, and MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a $3.5MM award. Blackmon, meanwhile, is two years from free agency and will make an estimated $9MM in 2017 after slashing .324/.381/.552 with 29 home runs and 17 stolen bases in 641 plate appearances last season.
Whether or not the Rockies land another starter, Bridich reiterated Wednesday that they’re pushing to improve their bullpen, which was among the majors’ worst last season. With their top southpaw from 2016, Boone Logan, now on the open market, the Rockies have turned some of their attention to fellow left-handed free agent reliever Mike Dunn (via Thomas Harding of MLB.com).
“We’ve looked at just about every free-agent reliever, and with him being in the National League, we’ve seen him a number of times and there’s some level of familiarity there,” Bridich said of the longtime Marlin. “And he’s still available. He’s somebody, to a certain degree, we’re paying attention to.”
The Rockies are also in on right-hander Brad Ziegler, with Bridich telling Harding, “He’s certainly a good pitcher, and with how many times we’ve seen him and faced him, we feel like we know him real well.”
As Bridich pointed out, the Rockies are familiar with Ziegler, who was with the NL West rival Diamondbacks from 2010 until they traded him to Boston last July. Given his grounder-heavy ways (a 66.3 percent rate over 596 2/3 career innings), the 37-year-old Ziegler would seemingly be a solid fit at home run-happy Coors Field. He also has experience as a closer, having amassed 52 saves over the past two seasons, and would be a strong bet to serve in that role with the Rockies.