Dave Cameron of Fangraphs postulates that the Rockies need to upgrade more than just their bullpen if they hope to be successful in 2018. He wonders if their additions so far “haven’t improved them as much as prevented them from getting worse.” At first glance, one could say that Wade Davis and Bryan Shaw are probably improvements over Greg Holland and Pat Neshek, respectively. However, considering the low WAR contribution from relievers in comparison to other players, those upgrades seem marginal. The team still has big questions to answer at first base, and in the outfield, so although they seem to have the best bullpen in the NL as it stands right now, they need to make impactful additions in other areas or rely on significant improvements from members of their current roster. After all, projections have them significantly behind the Dodgers in the NL West, as well as St. Louis and Arizona in the Wild Card race.
Questions continue to pop up when looking towards the future. Cameron notes that the 2017 iteration of the Rockies worked in large part because Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado provided them with over 12 fWAR at just $20MM between them. Unfortunately for Colorado, Blackmon is set to reach free agency at the end of 2018, and it would take a significant raise on his current salary to bring him back. The same is true for Arenado the year following. The bullpen contracts the team dished out this year will cost them something in the neighborhood of $35MM per season through 2020; that puts a significant constraint on their ability to retain their stars or further build through free agency. Cameron’s article raises some important questions about the Rockies’ offseason moves so far, and is worth a full read.
More news from around the National League as we approach New Year’s Eve…
- Speculation surrounding Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto and outfielder Christian Yelich has been heating up lately, and Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports that while the club is willing to listen on their two most valuable remaining trade assets, actually moving either player would require a “huge overpay”. Frisaro adds that the team is not looking to “water down” the return for either of them, making a potential salary dump inclusion of Martin Prado or Brad Ziegler less likely. MLBTR profiled Realmuto’s trade candidacy on Christmas Day, listing the Nationals, Rockies and Diamondbacks as good fits in theory. He’s projected for just a $4.2MM salary next season, and can be controlled through arbitration for two more years after that. As for Yelich, he’s been worth an average of 4 fWAR in each of the past four seasons and is owed just $43.25MM through 2021 thanks to a team-friendly contract extension.
- Jameson Taillon had a tough battle with cancer last season, causing him to miss significant time during the season. But the resilient Pirates righty is feeling confident headed into the 2018 season, and Adam Berry of MLB.com has the inside scoop. “You spend time in the clubhouse and know we have a lot of good guys as humans that are extremely determined to get better,” Taillon said. He’s reportedly working on new pitch grips and developing plans for how to attack hitters in the upcoming season. Taillon finished last season with a 4.44 ERA, though his 3.48 FIP paints a decidedly more attractive picture of his potential.