Tough decisions about Rockies will be keeping Bridich busy
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: email@example.com or @psaundersdp