As a 36-year-old closer on a fourth-place team, Bard looked like nearly as much of a slam-dunk trade candidate as Gray and Story. He’s controlled through the 2022 season via arbitration, but relievers are inherently volatile, and the Rockies can’t be reasonably expected to contend for a division title next year.
Bard has allowed three runs in his past two outings, which has bumped his ERA up a bit, but he’s still sitting at a respectable 4.32 mark with a 28.5 percent strikeout rate and 10.9 percent walk rate. Given his 97.8 mph average fastball, his ability to miss bats and his affordable $2.925MM salary, one would imagine there’d be some decent interest in Bard.
6:37am: Despite standing out as one of the most logical trade candidates on the market, Jon Gray remains in Colorado with nine hours until this afternoon’s trade deadline. There are, of course, many likely trade candidates who’ve yet to change hands, but it seems that as is the case with Trevor Story, the Rockies are at least considering hanging onto Gray.
The right-hander himself tells Danielle Allentuck of the Denver Gazette that he and the team have had preliminary talks about an extension, adding that he hopes to stay with the Rockies. Meanwhile, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweets that the Rockies have also considered hanging onto Gray and making him a qualifying offer at season’s end.
Gray, 29, was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 draft and stands out as one of the best homegrown arms the Rockies have developed. He’s in the midst of a the third sub-4.00 ERA of his season, pitching to a 3.67 ERA with a 22 percent strikeout rate, a 9.7 percent walk rate and a 49.8 percent ground-ball rate. Those strikeout and walk rates are a ways off from his career-best marks, and Gray’s 94.8 mph average heater is down a tick from his career-high 96.1 mph in 2017. But Gray is also limiting hard contact at the best rates of his career and has been a generally durable starter for the Rox this season. He’s playing on a $6MM salary in his final season of club control before free agency.
Given all that and the Rockies’ obvious lack of playoff chances, there ought to be many teams trying to acquire Gray — and it sounds as though the interest is there. Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reports that the Blue Jays, Padres, Mariners, White Sox and Mets are among the clubs that have scouted and shown varying levels of interest in Gray.
With Max Scherzer likely L.A.-bound and Jose Berrios now looking increasingly likely to be dealt, the floodgates on the remaining available starting pitchers could open in the hours leading up to the deadline. Gray, Michael Pineda, Zach Davies, Kyle Gibson and Merrill Kelly all seem like strong candidates to be dealt, and the removal of the market’s top two names — if Berrios is moved early in the day — should give the teams that miss out ample time to pivot to secondary targets.
Of course, that again assumes that Gray will be moved at all. The Rockies march to the beat of their own drum, to say the least. Perhaps the notion of keeping Gray and/or Story is mere posturing in an effort to extract a larger return, but the Rockies have resisted rebuilding moves for years despite rarely contending. Manager Bud Black said earlier this month they’ve already informed top starter German Marquez that he won’t be traded, which seems to suggest they believe a rapid turnaround is possible within the next couple years. So far, the Rockies’ lone move has been to trade Mychal Givens to the Reds.