Jon Gray is a few days away from fielding offers around the league, after the 29-year-old rejected a three-year extension offer from the Rockies that reportedly landed in the $35-40MM range. It’s widely expected the Rox will issue him an $18.4MM qualifying offer before Sunday’s deadline, thereby at least entitling themselves draft pick compensation were he to sign elsewhere.
General manager Bill Schmidt has yet to formally announce the club’s intentions on a Gray QO, but he acknowledged to Thomas Harding of MLB.com the front office is “discussing” whether to do so. With the Rockies already willing to offer Gray $12-13MM annually over a three-year term, it’d be surprising if they weren’t willing to risk him accepting a one-year deal for just $5-6MM more.
Harding suggests in a separate piece that Colorado still hopes to eventually work out a deal with Gray, writing that the Rockies “believe they value Gray more than other teams.” Given that he’s shown himself capable of finding success in Coors Field, that’d certainly be plenty reasonable. Still, the pitcher and his representatives evidently believe there’s a chance they’ll find an offer that tops the Rockies’ proposal on the open market.
Retaining Gray would require a significant investment on Colorado’s part, but it’d be far easier to keep another of their free agents — Chris Owings — in the fold. Owings has spent the past two seasons with the Rockies, joining the organization on minor league deals in both instances. Colorado would like to bring Owings back in 2022, Harding hears. It’s possible that’d come via another minors pact, as the utilityman was limited to just 50 plate appearances this past season (albeit with a highly productive .326/.420/.628 line) by a pair of injuries to his left thumb.
One free agent who almost definitely will not be returning is Trevor Story. A lock to receive and reject a qualifying offer, Story is all but certain to sign a significant multi-year deal elsewhere. The Rockies will have to address one middle infield spot this winter, then, and Harding writes they’re expected to target shortstop help. Brendan Rodgers came up as a shortstop prospect before moving to second base in deference to Story. It’s not out of the question Colorado could bump Rodgers back to short and add an external option at second base, but Harding hears the front office would prefer to keep the 25-year-old Rodgers at the keystone moving forward.