Rockies GM Jeff Bridich spoke to reporters on a conference call on Tuesday, covering a wide range of topics pertaining to both the short- and long-term look of his team’s roster. Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post and Thomas Harding of MLB.com were among those on-hand, and while I’d encourage readers to check out those pieces for full context and full quotes, here are some highlights from the general manager’s comments…
- The Rockies are still exploring both trades and free agency, per Bridich. “The focus now is pitching, specifically our bullpen, if possible,” said Bridich. The third-year general manager confirmed that the Rox have spoken to the representatives for righties Greg Holland and Joe Blanton, though he unsurprisingly declined to comment on the extent of Colorado’s interest in either free agent. Bridich also noted: “There are multiple teams interested in those types of guys.”
- Regarding the rumored extension for Carlos Gonzalez, Bridich acknowledged that the Rox have a desire to work out a new deal. “We’ve contemplated the possibility of an extension with him,” said the GM. “We’re hopeful we can at least explore that further. We feel like there’s a good chance we’ll be able to at least explore it further.” The 31-year-old Gonzalez is set to earn $20MM in 2017 — the final season of his seven-year, $80MM contract with the club.
- The Rockies “remain in touch” with free agent slugger Mark Trumbo, but Bridich explained that the team has other priorities at this time. Nonetheless, Bridich has never expressly ruled out a deal with Trumbo, whom he termed “a very good player” on Tuesday, so reports will likely continue to link the two sides. Signing Trumbo would obviously complicate the Rockies’ infield and outfield pictures, as it would likely force the Rockies to deal one of their left-handed-hitting outfielders in order to clear an outfield role for Ian Desmond, who currently occupies first base (where Trumbo would presumably play in Colorado).
- There haven’t been any substantial talks with third baseman Nolan Arenado about a contract extension, as Saunders notes in his column. Bridich said the first focus is on avoiding arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal, “…and if things come up, just like anything else, we are going to keep an open mind to anything.” MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects Arenado to earn a massive $13.1MM salary in his second trip through the arbitration process as a Super Two player. Arenado won’t turn 26 until April and has already cemented himself as one of the game’s truly elite players. His play to date has earned him plenty of financial security as well, so there’s little incentive for him to take any sort of discount.
- Bridich didn’t rule out adding a bat to his bench, either. Colorado is on the verge of one such addition, as they’ve reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with Alexi Amarista. That contract hasn’t been finalized just yet, but Amarista will be taking his physical for the club this week. Even with the addition of Amarista, inexperienced names like Cristhian Adames and Jordan Patterson are set to vie for bench roles with the Rockies, so an additional bench signing would indeed seem to make sense. Gerardo Parra looks to be the current fourth outfielder, and Amarista can bounce all over the infield. A utility option with experience in both the infield and the outfield would seem like a sound upgrade, and the Rockies could also reasonably add one of the many remaining first basemen on the market to their bench. Adames is out of minor league options, which may help his cause in Spring Training.
- Beyond the two columns linked above, Saunders tweets that Bridich “reaffirmed his faith in Tony Wolters and Tom Murphy as primary catchers.” Colorado has been speculatively listed as a landing spot for Matt Wieters, but the Rox do have an intriguing young platoon setup with the left-handed-hitting Wolters and the right-handed Murphy. Wolters draws excellent marks in pitch-framing, and each threw out better than 30 percent of attempted base thieves (40 percent, in Murphy’s case). Murphy also brings a track record of strong Triple-A production to the table, even if he’s rather inexperienced in the Majors.