The Rockies are receiving trade interest on starter Chad Kuhl and reliever Carlos Estevez, reports Mark Feinsand of MLB.com (Twitter link). Feinsand suggests both pitchers could find themselves on the move before this evening’s deadline.
It’d be a bit surprising if the Rockies followed through on a Kuhl deal, as reports from over the weekend suggested they were optimistic about their chances of keeping the right-hander on a contract extension. Whether Colorado fielding trade interest is a matter of simple due diligence on the front office’s part or an indication they’ve not as close as hoped on an extension isn’t clear, but it seems general manager Bill Schmidt and his staff are at least open to offers over the coming hours.
Kuhl, who signed a $3MM guarantee over the winter, had excellent numbers early this season. He carried a 3.56 ERA through the end of May. He’s hit a major rough patch of late, though, allowing five-plus runs in three of his last five starts while failing to work into the sixth inning on any occasion. Since tossing a complete game shutout against the Dodgers on June 27, he’s allowed 22 runs in 20 2/3 innings. That has brought his season line up to a 4.59 ERA with a personal-low 16.6% strikeout rate.
Like Kuhl, Estévez is an impending free agent. The 29-year-old has made 41 appearances this season, pitching to a 4.79 ERA through 35 2/3 innings. He’s striking out a below-average 21.9% of opponents against an elevated 11.6% walk rate. Those aren’t great bottom line numbers, but the 6’6″ hurler still has 95th percentile fastball velocity and can limit damage. His hard hit percentage is in the 55th percentile and his barrel percentage in the 61 percentile. For a pitcher who plays his home games at Coors Field, that’s certainly important.
The Rockies are 46-58 and ten games out of a playoff spot, making them sellers on paper. However, that’s also been the case in the past and they have still avoided trading obvious candidates. Last year, they held onto C.J. Cron, Trevor Story and Jon Gray, despite all three heading into free agency. With Kuhl, there have been rumors of his interest in signing an extension, much like Cron did last year. Whether the club would pivot and strike a deal including him or Estévez remains to be seen.