Friday Rockpile: New Morales Joins Roster Hunt, Aardsma, Others Remain on Radar

Fighting through sniffles to bring you this Rockpile. I'm absurdly sick.

With yesterday's acquisition of former Minnesota Twins backstop Jose Morales, the Rockies bring their list of competitors for the backup catcher spot to three main contenders. Though Morales, being the 'new guy', may initially seem like a fringe candidate for the spot, especially compared to prospect Michael McKenry, Morales actually has several complications leaning in his favor. For one, he's a now cliched "out of options" acquisition. Now taking up the 39th spot on our 40 man roster, Morales must make the team or be waived. The loss of Morales so early would hardly be a difficult maneuver, financially or otherwise, but it may intentionally or otherwise give him a slim Spring advantage over option-able McKenry or Matt Pagnozzi, who remains on a minor league contract only. Secondly, though far from a typical veteran, Morales's minimal MLB experience at the MLB level is still significantly more than McKenry and Pagnozzi combined. Small sample size and all, Morales will have a better idea of what to expect in an MLB game.

Morales, who has accumulated barely over one year of service time over three seasons of MLB play with the Twins, does not have a significant resume to study at this level, but he has experienced both high and lows. He is not the type of player who will be a game changer, and some of you may have an issue with that, though Paul Bargas, who is bound the other direction on the deal, was not considered one of the more notable arms in the system, aside perhaps from being a lefty. Fans of Chris Iannetta will also likely continue to be pleased that no candidates who could possibly threaten his starting position going into the season have emerged yet.

Coverage on Morales from the usual suspects around the web:
- Thomas Harding of MLB.com
- Troy Renck of The Denver Post
- Steve Foster of Inside the Rockies
- Andrew Martin from some blog somewhere

Let's take a look at David Aardsma and other potential late-offseason targets after the jump

Off-Topic for your debauchery.

Now that Jesse Crain has joined the caste of relievers with shiny new three year deals, the Rockies moved to a new Colorado-connected target. Aardsma bounced around MLB for the first several years of his career, having now found success as a closer for the Seattle Mariners, though as we learned from Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports recently, the Mariners seem to intend to move him.To boot, we've already made one move with Seattle this offseason (the Jose Lopez/Chaz Roe deal), meaning it's possible talks about this idea have developed farther than writer speculation.

Aardsma has a strong fastball and would likely provide support for Matt Belisle and Rafael Betancourt  in the 7th/8th inning were he to be acquired. Aardsma is two seasons from free agency. With Pedro Feliciano also now off the market, the Rockies' options for what may be their final acquisition of the offseason is down to fewer confirmed connected names, including Jon Rauch, Chad Qualls and troublesome Type-A  free agent Grant Balfour, whose free agency situation will likely prevent the Rockies from signing him unless it is via a trade after another team has sacrificed their draft pick.

Troy Renck has more details on these players here.

Other news:

- A's Acquire Josh Willingham: read Ben Nicholson-Smith's breakdown of the trade at MLBTradeRumors. Though the Ty Wigginton signing likely pushed us out of contention for Willingham, particularly considering the cost involved, this all but solidifies is 2011 home, leaving the Rockies outfield setup in its state of anonymity.

- Former Cubs' First-Rounder to Try Pitching: Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports reports that Ryan Harvey, who spent time in the Tulsa Drillers outfield this past season before dropping out to work on converting to a pitcher, will begin is professional pitching career in the Boston Red Sox system.

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