Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon isn’t making any plans to leave Denver, as Blackmon told reporters (including Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post) that he is going to exercise the player options on his contract for both 2022 and 2023. An official decision about Blackmon’s 2022 plans will come soon after the World Series, and Blackmon doesn’t have to make a decision on his 2023 option until after next season, should he change his mind in the next 12 months.
In exercising his 2022 option, Blackmon will earn $21MM next season, and there wasn’t much doubt he would choose to prefer that big guaranteed payday over a visit to the free agent market. Blackmon entered Game 162 hitting .269/.349/.409 with 13 home runs over 581 plate appearances, his least-productive full season by OPS (.759), OPS+ (95) and wRC+ (94) since becoming a regular with Colorado in 2013.
At age 35 and coming off that lackluster platform season, there wasn’t much chance Blackmon could find anything on the open market that would top the minimum $31MM in guaranteed money he has coming his way in 2022-23. Blackmon’s original extension with the Rockies has already earned him $63MM, and after the $21MM salary for 2022, he stands to make at least $10MM via the 2023 player option. That 2023 figure could end up being worth as much as $18MM should Blackmon hit various escalators based on plate appearances and MVP votes.
The Rockies inked Blackmon to that extension in April 2018, keeping Blackmon in the fold before his scheduled trip to free agency in the 2018-19 offseason. Over the extension’s three guaranteed years, Blackmon has contributed a .295/.357/.489 slash line and 51 homers over 1462 PA, but most of that damage came in 2019.
His decline over the last two seasons doesn’t bode well for Colorado’s chances of getting an acceptable return on that $21MM investment for next year. Blackmon’s hard-contact numbers have dropped, and opposing teams have been heavily deploying shifts to neutralize the left-handed hitting Blackmon over the last two seasons.