Tough de­ci­sions about Rock­ies will be keep­ing Bridich busy

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Pa­trick Saunders, The Den­ver Post

Base­ball fans love to play arm­chair gen­eral man­ager. So do sports­writers and colum­nists. The most fre­quent ques­tion I get — be­sides what’s liv­ing and grow­ing in Char­lie Black­mon’s beard — is about whom the Rock­ies are go­ing to ac­quire be­fore the July 31 non­waiver trade dead­line. I’m on the record as say­ing the Rock­ies need to ac­quire a right-handed re­liever, or two, be­fore the trade dead­line. No sur­prise there; even tight-lipped gen­eral man­ager Jeff Bridich is on record say­ing that.

I’d like to see the Rock­ies trade for Mi­ami closer AJ Ramos. I like his abil­ity to strike out bat­ters (av­er­ag­ing 11.5 strike­outs per nine in­nings this sea­son) and his track record. He has 90 ca­reer saves and a his­tory of suc­cess in the ninth in­ning.

But I don’t know what the Mar­lins are ask­ing in re­turn, and I don’t know what the Rock­ies are will­ing to give up for a pitcher who’s eli­gi­ble for ar­bi­tra­tion in 2018 and can be­come a free agent af­ter the 2019 sea­son.

Given the Rock­ies’ limited win­dow for post­sea­son con­tention, it would be a shame for them to miss the play­offs be­cause the bridge to su­per closer Greg Hol­land kept col­laps­ing. Left-han­ders Jake Mcgee and Chris Rusin have been mostly re­li­able, but af­ter that things get shaky in a hurry.

But what many fans seem to for­get, and what I tend to for­get, is that Bridich must ex­am­ine the big pic­ture. There are things go­ing on be­hind the scenes that we don’t know any­thing about.

For ex­am­ple, most of us as­sume that Hol­land will de­cline his op­tion and be­come a free agent af­ter this sea­son. He eas­ily will top the four-year, $62 mil­lion deal San Fran­cisco gave Mark Me­lan­con. We’ve taken it for granted that Hol­land, with agent Scott Bo­ras whis­per­ing in his ear, will walk.

But per­haps, just per­haps, the Rock­ies are al­ready try­ing to find a way to sign Hol­land long term. If they do that, I could understand why they aren’t go­ing to trade prospects for Ramos or an­other top re­liever. There are other is­sues clut­ter­ing Bridich’s desk.

Num­ber one is philo­soph­i­cal, as well as fi­nan­cial. How many prospects do the Rock­ies give up for a one-game wild-card shot, likely fol­lowed by a play­off matchup against the pow­er­house Los An­ge­les Dodgers?

Next, surely Bridich knows that the Rock­ies’ win­dow of op­por­tu­nity is clos­ing, at least with the cur­rent core of play­ers. Tough de­ci­sions are pend­ing. Mcgee be­comes a free agent af­ter this sea­son. Black­mon, an all-star cen­ter fielder, and all-star sec­ond base­man DJ Lemahieu are sched­uled to be­come free agents af­ter the 2018 sea­son. Both will be look­ing for a ca­reer pay­day.

All-star third base­man Nolan Are­nado, the face of the fran­chise who’s on a straight path to Coop­er­stown, be­comes a free agent af­ter 2019. Some in the in­dus­try think he could land an al­most un­fath­omable eight-year, $400 mil­lion con­tract.

Yes, some sig­nif­i­cant money will be com­ing off the books. Car­los Gon­za­lez is mak­ing $20 mil­lion this year, but his con­tract ends af­ter this sea­son. The Rock­ies have to pay only $4 mil­lion to the Mets’ Jose Reyes next sea­son, not the $22 mil­lion they are pay­ing him now while he plays in the Big Ap­ple.

Over­all, the Rock­ies are in a good place. There is rea­son to be­lieve in young starters Kyle Free­land, Jon Gray, An­to­nio Sen­za­tela, Ger­man Mar­quez and Tyler An­der­son, along with prospect Ri­ley Pint. For a nice change, the Rock­ies have qual­ity pitch­ing depth.

But that doesn’t mean Bridich can cruise. I can write about what the Rock­ies might do, or should do. Fans can chime in too. That’s part of be­ing a fan.

But the blue­print for the Rock­ies’ ros­ter is in the hands of Bridich and his lieu­tenants.

Pa­trick Saunders is the pres­i­dent of the Base­ball Writ­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­ica: psaun­ders@den­ver­post.com or @psaun­der­sdp

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