Not that it was ever much in question, but Rockies owner Dick Monfort confirmed in comments today that the organization won’t be able to spend its way out of its roster difficulties. “We don’t have a lot of flexibility next year,” Monfort said of the team’s payroll situation, as Nick Groke of The Athletic was among those to cover (Twitter links).
Appearing at an end-of-season press conference alongside GM Jeff Bridich and manager Bud Black, Monfort also commented on the team’s just-announced TV deal. The contract, which begins with the start of the 2021 season, is “not as lucrative as I wanted it to be,” says the Colorado franchise owner.
It’d be foolish to rule out contention for a club that features some impressive core talent and that made back-to-back postseason appearances in the prior two campaigns. But much went wrong for the Rox in 2019 and there aren’t many clear avenues to improving — at least, beyond getting the team’s existing players ready to roll for the new campaign.
Last year’s Rockies club opened with a $145MM payroll, marking the sixth-straight year in which the organization set a new high-water mark. That tally was reached in part with a series of multi-year contracts, many of which remain on the books.
Looking ahead to 2020, there’s already $120MM on the ledger, some portion of which is dedicated to underperforming assets. That’s before accounting for arbitration pay raises to Trevor Story, Jon Gray, Scott Oberg, David Dahl, and others. And it doesn’t include any new acquisitions.
There are other interesting observations still rolling out of the presser, with Michael Spencer of CBS Denver documenting some items of interest via video on his Twitter feed. Some recent comments from star third baseman Nolan Arenado featured heavily. Bridich contested any suggestion that the club has adopted or will take up a rebuilding posture. He also said the club is content with the opt-out clause included in Arenado’s contract. Indeed, the GM says it was his idea to bake it in. (Why? He spoke obliquely of “some of the realities that can exist” and “giving people the opportunity to take a breath, at a certain time period, to say is this right for me right now?” Of course, it’s also possible the team pushed the concept as a way of giving non-financial value.)
Looking ahead, the pitching staff is probably the key area of focus. Though the club was also distinctly below-average offensively, it’s easier to imagine relying upon internal strides in that area. Getting arms to Coors Field remains a difficult task, however, which helps to explain how the club ended up with some less-than-desirable reliever contracts. Bridich says the organization is “always looking” at ways to get quality players in, though the above-noted limitations figure to make that tough. The roster architect suggested that he remains confident in a group that certainly has been more effective in the recent past. As he put it, “I think that there still is a foundation as long as certain guys bounce back.”