It hasn’t been an enjoyable 12 months for the Rockies organization. There was plenty of goodwill to go around heading into last season after back-to-back playoff berths and the long-term extension franchise player Nolan Arenado signed. But just about everything has gone in the wrong direction for Colorado since then. The club fell on its face in 2019, winning a meager 71 games, and its higher-ups have since irked Arenado. The five-time All-Star surfaced in trade rumors while making it known that he was unhappy with the Rockies’ inactivity over the winter.
The Rockies used the offseason to sign only one major league free agent – untested right-hander Jose Mujica – and for a relatively paltry $563K. Now, expectations are that they’ll again sit near the bottom of the league in 2020 (if there is a season). One key reason the team has slid down the standings and just might stay there? An utter lack of big-money success on the free-agent market.
Since general manager Jeff Bridich assumed the reins after the 2014 season, the Rockies have signed eight free agents to guarantees worth $10MM or more. All of those deals have been landmines to this point, and five of those players are still eating into the team’s payroll – one that Jason Martinez of Roster Resource and FanGraphs estimates will check in at a franchise-record $156MM on Opening Day. With that much cash already tied up, owner Dick Monfort was unwilling to authorize Bridich to spend in recent months. Maybe that’s a good thing, as you’ll see below…
Parra came to the Rockies off a solid season divided between Milwaukee and Baltimore, though he was anything but effective as a Rockie. He ended his tenure in Colorado with minus-1.1 fWAR and a .283/.320/.407 line (just a 77 wRC+ when adjusted for ballpark) over 1,249 plate appearances. Motte, meanwhile, didn’t even see his entire deal through. The Rockies cut ties with him after 2016, a year in which he notched a 4.94 ERA/5.68 FIP with minus-0.3 fWAR.
- Ian Desmond, IF/OF: five years, $70MM
- Mike Dunn, RP: three years, $19MM
It was a head-scratcher from the get-go that the Rockies splurged on Desmond to play first base, as he didn’t look to have the bat to handle the offensively charged position and had spent his career to that point as a shortstop/outfielder. The gamble has not paid off at all for the Rox, who still owe Desmond $25MM through 2021 (including a $2MM buyout for ’22). The 34-year-old accounted for a hideous minus-1.7 fWAR during his first three seasons with the team and batted .252/.313/.429 (80 wRC+) in 1,474 PA. The Rockies moved him back to the outfield last year.
Colorado parted with Dunn late in 2019. He’s now retired after serving as a replacement-level reliever (minus-0.1 fWAR) with the club, though that looks like a generous assessment in light of his 5.93 ERA/5.02 FIP across 85 frames. Injuries limited Dunn to just under 35 combined innings in his final two seasons.
- Wade Davis, RHP: three years, $52MM
- Jake McGee, LHP: three years, $27MM
- Bryan Shaw, RHP: three years, $27MM
Evidenced by the $106MM spent on these three, the Rockies made a sincere effort to bolster their bullpen after 2017. The decision has blown up in their face. Davis, lights-out for most of his career, has been awful since joining Colorado. His contract’s still the largest ever on a per-year basis for a reliever, but his production has tanked. He pitched to an almost 9.00 ERA in 2019 and didn’t last the full season as the Rockies’ closer. Meantime, McGee and Shaw haven’t been much better, if at all. Combined, these three have registered minus-0.3 fWAR in 227 1/3 innings since they signed their contracts.
Desmond couldn’t solidify first base for the Rockies. Murphy hasn’t been able to, either. Once among the premier hitters in the game, the 35-year-old Murphy could only muster a line of .279/.328/.452 (good for a career-low 86 wRC+) and a personal-worst minus-0.2 fWAR in 478 PA.
If you add up the fWAR for all these players, the figure amounts to minus-3.7. The value of the contracts the Rockies handed this group comes to $256.5MM. That’s a lot of wasted money, and it’s part of the reason the Rockies are in such an unenviable position at the moment.
You’d think Bridich is on the hot seat already
Nah, they’re all set to win 94
One of the worst Front Offices in MLB, obvious worst 5 along with Pirates, Mariners, Marlins and Orioles.
Except that the Pirates new FO is barely 6 months old in and that the Mariners and Marlins FO have brought their farms into respectability with some pieces at the ML level
Dipoto lucked into the Cano trade. the rest of his dealings have been smoke and mirrors at best.
Did Dipoto luck into Gilbert, JRod, White, and Marte as well? It’s not his fault the Mets are in win now mode
Dipto did what I wanted z to do forever he should have traded Felix when he was prime off the by young award instead of wasting his remaining years on middle Seattle team. The prospects would have been worth it
Excuse the pea brained social justice warrior! He’s as hypocritical as he is stupid!
AssumeFacts, please go shout at clouds somewhere else, thanks
You’re one to talk. SJW’s shouting at imaginary enemies like patriarchy and white supremacy are the literal definition of crazy people shouting at clouds.
As an NLW fan, the fall for the Rockies has been pretty stunning to watch. Seemingly each year they get hot at some point, but play so badly at other times they can’t get out of their own way. But their “so badly” is SO BAD it’s stunning
They usually play LAD tough, but their roster is like 5 decent players- stars and then nothing. It’s amazing how bad they have been at building a roster around talents like Tulo, Story, Arenado, Blackmon etc
they are a classic first half team there have been countless explosions out of the gate and come the end of the season they are 4th or 5 thin in the division, maybe it is the toll ofplaying at elevation or the fact that their rotation is constantly young and doesn’t have the endurance of veterans but it’s crazy how consistent the collapse is every year
It really is. Seems to always be a combo of a big offensive cog goes down, and maybe a RP/SP at the same time. Suddenly they go 1-19 for 20 games and it doesn’t matter that at one point they were 50-50 thru 100 lol
3-12 to start 2019 is hardly explosion out of the gate. More like implosion.
Dodgers are 28-11 against them the last 2 years
We own their souls right now –
Wade Davis is still in recovery
What a sound organization! Great leadership from top to bottom!
Their player valuation team is WORLD class! Absolutely savvy!
This is an organization that should be rebuilding. They have a slew of talent in the upper-minors who are deserving of a real opportunity. They would arguably be in a better position to “step back” than Seattle was.
Bridich’s trades are almost as lousy as his FA signings. They need to go outside of the organization for next GM. Boy wonder needs to go, now.
Rox have been around for what, 27 years, and they have never won a division title? There is no plan, unless signing a FA SS to play 1B on a five-year deal is a plan..
No clue about starting pitchers, and throwing big bucks at FA big name relievers ain’t working, either.
Last place in the NL West this year. Will be lucky to win 70 games.
Man, they should probably stop signing FA pitching. Haha.
Seriously though, the best teams they’ve had have always seemed to have been built towards being offensive juggernauts. I know there is a popular school of thought that pitching wins titles, but not in Colorado. Look at the miss rate on pitching, and then add in the difficulty of tossing 81 games in thin air. Rebuild, and build an offense.
Also, don’t blow gobs of money on a SS to play 1B. Lol. I doubt 70% of fans would do that, and a ML GM does? Sheesh! An average 1B on the cheap would hit well there.
Then move the team to Montreal.
They should draft pitching pitching pitching and save FA for hitters. To support pitcher development it would benefit them to alter their MiLB affiliates.
Angels & NL West
The Rox definitely have some pieces to build around and they have a solid manager. But GM and owner are liabilities. Owner is not going anywhere but it sure feels like its time for some fresh thinking from the GMs chair.
Colorado should be heaven on earth for an analytics team. Do a deep, deep dive and find out what works. Than go after players that have those skills, pitches, etc.
Who could’ve possibly seen mediocre relievers blowing up in their faces or drastic overpays to Parra and Desmond becoming land mines?