The Colorado Rockies are one step away, or should I say an arm or two away from making the playoffs in 2017. The offense is there with Trevor Story, Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackman and Carlos Gonzalez. But what the team must do is find two arms to stop the bleeding.
The Rockies play in a hitter’s paradise, in Coors Field but until they can stop other teams from producing numbers equal to theirs, they will always be on the outside looking in. In 2016 the Rockies finished 3rd in the NL West with a 75-87 record. But what stuck out him most to me was their level of play when facing playoff teams. They were 4-2 against the Nationals, 9-10 against the Giants, 6-1 against the Mets, and 4-2 against the Cubs. These numbers alone let you know how good the Rockies are but with a few quality arms, they could be better.
With the offseason well underway and teams pursuing free agents, the Rockies have a chance to land the players that could lead them atop the West and to the postseason. But, management must be willing to go that extra mile. This is baseball, where money seems to grow on trees and now, the Rockies have a payroll heading into 2017 right at $66M and that’s including the $22M retained after the departure of Jose Reyes.
The Rockies have money to spend and the time is now to open the wallet and get what’s needed to be contenders.
First order of business is to find a suitable arm in the starting rotation. The top five guys are not horrible but with Jorge De La Rosa at 35 and his decline in production, they may be looking for a replacement to give his arm a rest during the season. The FA market is heavy in arms but also on the wrong side of the 30’s as well. The Rockies have a young staff with an average age of 26 but one more veteran, who has played on the big stage will not hurt.
The Rockies could go the trade option and see what the Tigers are willing to accept for Justin Verlander. Or they could hit the Cardinals and see what the asking price is for Michael Wacha. If the Rockies are smart, they should play it safe and not offer up any young talent. They have done will with their farm system and 75 wins were just the beginning. There is some veteran leadership on the FA market. They could go after Derek Holland, Andrew Cashner, Ivan Nova and maybe try to lowball Tim Lincecum in a 5th spot in the rotation.
While neither screams CY Young they all offer leadership and the ability to eat innings. To pair them with a group that already includes three pitches in double-digit wins in Chad Bettis, Jon Gray, and Tyler Chatwood, the Rockies could have an explosive core. But, the biggest issue may reside in the bullpen. If they cannot get a quality 4th or 5th starter they could go hard for a closer. Coors Field is the comeback stadium. No lead is safe there. The Rockies used a closer by committee approach in 2016 that didn’t work out too well.
Aroldis Chapman will cost a ton and after a World Series win, he may look for a team that’s right on the verge or already there. The Rockies should go after Kenley Jansen or Mark Melancon to shore up the bullpen and help keep down the starter’s innings. With either in the fold for the Rockies once the 8th inning hits, the Rockies could be looking at a possible 10-15 win differential.
Nothing in MLB is free and the Rockies will be forced to open their wallets if they want results. But with their offense at the top the rankings and the Dodgers and Giants maybe a little sluggish after another early playoff exit, the time is now for this young ballclub to take advantage.