The Rockies have agreed to a minor league deal with right-hander Matt Koch and invited him to spring training, reports Thomas Harding of MLB.com. Koch spent the 2023 season with the Rox but was outrighted in October and elected free agency. He’ll now head back for a second season on a non-guaranteed deal.
The 33-year-old Koch pitched 38 2/3 innings for Colorado this past season, yielding a 5.12 ERA with a 16.6% strikeout rate against a tidy 5.5% walk rate. Koch doesn’t throw especially hard, averaging 93.8 mph on his four-seamer and 89.6 mph on his cutter, but he induced grounders at an above-average 49% clip. When opponents did manage to elevate the ball against him, however, the contact was often loud. Koch surrendered an average of 1.63 homers per nine frames, and opponents notched a 90.1 mph average exit velocity and 44.8% hard-hit rate against him.
Koch has appeared in parts of six big league seasons between the D-backs, Mariners and Rockies. In that time, he’s worked to a 5.03 ERA in 168 1/3 innings with 13.9% strikeout rate, 5.8% walk rate and 43.1% ground-ball rate. He’ll vie for a job in a Rockies bullpen that has little in the way of certainty beyond presumptive ninth-inning favorite Justin Lawrence. Righty Tyler Kinley struggled in his return from Tommy John surgery, while 2022 All-Star Daniel Bard walked 49 batters in 49 1/3 innings. The Rox traded Pierce Johnson to the Braves at the deadline and saw Brent Suter become a free agent at season’s end. They’ll likely be in the market for some additional veteran stability as the winter wears on, but several more depth pickups like this one with Koch also feel plausible.