Thursday Rockpile: Rockies could make mint by mining Miami

Roy Oswalt seems to be the Rockies primary target du jour, as the trade market continues to develop. Like Jeff Aberle indicated yesterday, despite his agents claim that the Rockies "have a shot," Oswalt seems unlikely to ultimately accept the Rockies bid. In fact, that very wording leaves me even more pessimistic that the pitcher has much intention of signing with Colorado. Until I'm proven wrong, I'll think this is a case of an agent and a player using the Rockies interest as leverage to up the bidding from other suitors.

One of those other suitors happens to be the Miami Marlins, who continue to be truly aggressive in their off-season pursuits, having made offers to Albert Pujols, Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle already. The situation there is interesting to follow, as should Oswalt, Buehrle or C.J. Wilson sign with Miami or even Pujols or Reyes, Rockies targets Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez will become much more expendable. As it stands, however, the one pitcher most clearly on the outs with the Fish is Chris Volstad, who I've already indicated is the type of young undervalued pitcher that the Rockies should be targeting.

That said, though, with off season dreams dancing like sugar plums before us, why shouldn't the Rockies be able to trade for both Nolasco and Volstad? That would fill the veteran rotation void with Nolasco and give insurance against a Juan Nicasio setback with a young pitcher with plenty of upside in Volstad, all at a cost in salary of less than the $30 million it could take to sign Oswalt for two seasons (Nolasco's due $20.5 million over the next two years, Volstad's just entering his arbitration seasons.) As the non-tender deadline approaches, Volstad's market will develop, but he shouldn't come at the cost in prospects a more established pitcher like Nolasco would. Both Nolasco (as mentioned here) and Volstad are examples of the types of solid players that some teams will get impatient with after down seasons, and as such they are classic buy low opportunities. The same could be said of the Rockies other primary trade target of the season, Martin Prado, which added to Nolasco and the team's pursuits of Michael Young and Wandy Rodriguez over the past year show a distinct value mining pattern to the Rockies trade targets.

The Oswalt pursuit further illuminates one thing that's become clear, that the Rockies do have one eight digit salary to hand out this winter and still feel comfortable filling other team needs. The estimate Troy Renck gives in the first link above of two years for $30 million would fall into the same salary tier with an acquisition of Rodriguez from the Astros or David Wright from the Mets. This could be before the potential added savings in the form of a Huston Street trade are factored in, or the highly unlikely dump of Ty Wigginton and his salary on some unsuspecting chump.

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With a Street trade, the Rockies are looking to acquire an MLB ready position player, and given interest from Toronto and Boston, they might be able to pull it off. I'm dreaming of Moises Sierra, a toolsy right handed hitting outfielder in the Toronto system from the Dominican that clicked in 2011, hitting 18 home runs for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. Given the Rockies penchant for searching for talented players that teams have grown tired of, a Travis Snider for Street trade actually makes a lot of sense if it weren't that Snider was somewhat redundant to Seth Smith. Of course, if Smith gets moved in a Prado deal, that one issue clears up.

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Speaking of left handed hitting outfielders, the Rockies have agreed to terms with former Twins minor leaguer Brandon Roberts, who would seem to fit as AAA depth at the moment. There's a bit of eye-rolling that goes on with minor league free agency signings like this, but they don't cost anything, not even the roster spot a Rule 5 selection would take, and there's often a fairly substantial upside if the team lands on the right player. Players like Carlos Pena, Andres Torres and Ryan Roberts all broke out after signing minor league free agent contracts.

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Nolan Arenado was named the Arizona Fall League's Most Valuable Player yesterday, he becomes the first ever Rockies player so honored. The Rockies plan now has for Arenado to compete for a roster spot next Spring. Given Arenado's skills and learning curve to date, people should really stop thinking that there's no chance of this happening, and that if it does that it won't be a good thing. I'd say it's still less than 50% but we're probably in the 1 in 4 or even 1 in 3 odds area right now that he wins the Opening Day third base job, and if he does, the Rockies are in a very good spot for 2012. In addition to clearing up the third base quagmire, Arenado living up to his potential could make it easier to carry dead weight at second.

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