While there has been some early chatter surrounding Rockies righty Jon Gray, that doesn’t mean we’re on the cusp of a major swap. Rather, per MLB.com’s Thomas Harding, the Rox are leaving rival organizations with the expectation that Gray will remain in Colorado.
As MLBTR’s Connor Byrne explored earlier this month, Gray seems a strong trade candidate on paper. The 28 year-old is projected for a reasonable $5.6MM salary in arbitration, but he comes with just two seasons of team control remaining. Gray took a step forward in 2019, posting a 3.84 ERA in 150 innings with solid strikeout (23.6%) and walk (8.8%) rates despite calling Coors Field home. As a team, however, the Rockies went backwards, stumbling to a 71-91 season after back-to-back postseason appearances.
Without much flexibility to spend this offseason, there was and is reason to believe Colorado will explore the trade market both to add MLB pieces and as a potential means of increasing organizational financial flexibility. In addition to possibly attempting to move the contracts of some older, more expensive players, it stands to reason that the team would at least endeavor to learn what kind of young talent might be had in a swap involving its marketable, mid-arbitration players.
Perhaps the Rox didn’t like what they heard when rivals came calling on Gray in recent weeks. No doubt the bar is set even higher when it comes to shortstop Trevor Story. Like Gray, the star shortstop comes with two more years of team control. Dealing one or both would make for something of an organizational reboot, even with other key MLB pieces still on hand.
It certainly doesn’t sound as if the Rockies are anxious to discuss Story in trade talks. To the contrary, the Athletic’s Nick Groke (subscription link) even characterizes the team as having real interest in an extension, although there’s no indication anything’s close on that front. Even if there’s mutual interest, it’ll be challenging to find common ground. Story only just turned 27, has established himself as one of the game’s best shortstops, possesses strong arbitration earning power ($11.5MM projection), and holds sky-high potential in free agency after the 2021 season.
If Colorado is to return to contention, strong seasons from Gray and Story would be key. The Rockies don’t seem likely to threaten the Dodgers in the NL West and probably won’t project as a favorite in the Wild Card race. But there is some compelling core talent on hand and the organization is understandably interested in trying to win while that group is in place. It seems GM Jeff Bridich and company are planning to stay the course this winter in hopes of bouncing back sooner rather than later.