The Rockies won’t issue qualifying offers to any of their free agents today, general manager Jeff Bridich tells Nick Groke of The Athletic (Twitter link). Second baseman DJ LeMahieu and emergent relief star Adam Ottavino may have been fringe candidates to receive a $17.9MM QO, but instead both will reach the open market free of draft-pick compensation for interested parties.
LeMahieu, 30, has seen his offense tail off since winning a batting title in a brilliant 2016 campaign. He’s followed up that .348/.416/.495 effort with a combined .767 OPS and posted an unspectacular .276/.321/.428 slash in 128 games this season despite his hitter-friendly home setting. This year’s 6.4 percent walk rate was his worst since 2014. However, LeMahieu remains a premium defensive second baseman — arguably the game’s best — and he showed career-best power while proving to be a characteristically difficult strikeout for opposing pitchers. His 2016 season will likely go down as a clear career year and a general outlier, but he should still garner interest on multi-year pacts in free agency.
Ottavino, meanwhile, rebounded from some troubling control issues in 2017 (his first season back from Tommy John surgery) to break out as a dominant late-inning force for skipper Bud Black. In 77 2/3 innings, Ottavino turned in a pristine 2.43 ERA. His 36.3 percent strikeout rate checked in eighth among 151 qualified relievers, though it’s worth noting that his 11.7 percent walk rate was the 21st-highest in that same group. Nonetheless, the right-hander’s ability to miss bats and his strong ratings from fielding-independent metrics like FIP (2.74), xFIP (3.13) and SIERA (2.82) should help him to receive multi-year interest in free agency — perhaps as much as a three-year offering.