The Rockies have signed manager Bud Black to a one-year extension through the 2024 season, Black himself announced at Rockies camp this morning (Twitter link via Danielle Allentuck of the Denver Gazette).
The 2023 season will be the seventh at the Rockies’ helm for the 65-year-old Black, who’s thus far compiled a 417-453 record in that role. That losing mark is many ways reflective of persistently sub-par rosters that Black has been handed in recent years, though not for lack of trying. The Rockies have extended various players they’ve deemed core contributors — German Marquez, Antonio Senzatela, Kyle Freeland, Ryan McMahon among them — and as recently as last offseason put down a hefty $182MM investment in outfielder Kris Bryant as they’ve sought to put a contending team on the field.
That said, the Rox have also not only traded Nolan Arenado away but paid $50MM of his salary in order to facilitate that swap with the Cardinals, and they’ve at times sat out the free-agent market almost entirely (this season included). Colorado has endured four straight losing seasons and turned over the GM’s chair from Jeff Bridich to longtime scouting director Bill Schmidt, while also seeing an exodus in the assistant GM ranks and some turmoil in analytics department that’s among the smallest in the league.
Along the way, owner Dick Monfort has steadfastly refused to embark on any sort of rebuild, and even short-term “sell” moves at the deadline have been passed over. The Rockies, for instance, opted not to trade either Trevor Story or Jon Gray when both were impending free agents and the Rox were out of contention. Story walked and netted the Rockies a draft pick after rejecting a qualifying offer. Colorado did not extend a QO to Gray, essentially agreeing to let the former No. 3 overall pick leave with no compensation. Last summer, when closer Daniel Bard would’ve been one of the market’s most sought-after arms, the Rockies instead extended him on a two-year, $19MM contract. They took a similar approach with first baseman C.J. Cron the summer prior.
The commitment to fielding a winning club is commendable, but the decision-making behind those good intentions has often proven faulty. Schmidt is only entering his second full season as the team’s general manager, and he’ll surely have a fair bit of leash with regards to his autonomy in the baseball ops department.
Extending Black through the 2024 season assures hat the veteran skipper won’t play out the 2023 season under dreaded lame-duck status. It’ll also provide some further continuity and stability as Schmidt looks to turn the team’s fortunes and get the Rockies at least back to a respectable level of play. Monfort’s proclamation of a 94-win season prior to the 2020 campaign (before it was learned that the schedule would need to be shortened) drew plenty of criticism, and even his recent, more-measured suggestion that his club could play .500 ball this season has drawn similar scrutiny.
It’ll be incumbent upon Black to maximize the results from what looks like another flawed roster in 2023; the Rockies went into the offseason with the goal of acquiring a center fielder but came up empty in those pursuits, and the team’s already shaky rotation and bullpen went largely unaddressed as well. Colorado’s farm system has improved in recent years, but they’ll need some impactful contributions from the minor league ranks to right the ship. Black, entering his 16th season as a Major League manager, has plenty of experience in working to harness the young talent of up-and-coming prospects, but the Rockies will need to work some magic to avoid a fifth consecutive season finishing either fourth or fifth in the NL West.