Ever since the regular season ended in early October, teams have been outrighting their players to clear room for inactve 60-day disabled list players, as well as Rule 5 protectees before the Reserves Deadline on November 20th. The Rockies were one of the first teams to begin that process last year, but this year they have waited until now to clear room on their 40-man roster. So far, news has broken that four of their outright candidates have been claimed on waivers, but it's unlikely the news ends there.
UPDATE 1 (2:18 PM): The Rockies have purchased the contract of RHP Josh Sullivan, to prevent him from leaving via MiLB Free Agency. The Rockies have also outrighted Carlos Torres, who was not claimed on waivers. Torres will be allowed to elect free agency at any time. The Rockies have also activated their 60-day DL players, putting the roster firmly at 37.
The Minnesota Twins claimed two Rockies in the form of Tommy Field and Josh Roenicke. Field was not a particularly surprising outright candidate, and he was one of the five I predicted to see outrighted from the roster. His status in the organization fell after a weak year for the Sky Sox that saw him fall behind on the depth chart y a number of spots. The only notable hole this leaves is the Sky Sox without a shortstop, which may increase the likelihood of the Rockies holding onto Jonathan Herrera, perhaps via minor league contract.
Roenicke is the first major surprise, as I expected the Rockies to hold onto the right hander. While it was clear that Roenicke was overperforming to an extent last year, he was our best piggyback reliever by far and I felt he had earned another shot at the job in 2013. This move, as well as the one below, clearly signifies that the Rockies are going to be looking to fill the piggyback slots with a different kind of pitcher this year, and raises my curiosity that perhaps we're going to see guys like Alex White and Tyler Chatwood in the role instead, or perhaps Rob Scahill.
I had my doubts that Guillermo Moscoso would be with the Rockies next year, but I didn't expect him to be let go at this stage of the offseason, as I felt he profiled better as a trade chip or a non-tender candidate if not enough interest was gained. Moscoso was claimed by the Kansas City Royals. The out of options starter/reliever should compete for both jobs there. Not really a surprise end result, just a timing surprise.
Finally, the Rockies also chose to outright Zach Putnam despite the relief prospect's ease in terms of team control. Right now, being a one inning relief type in the Rockies organization must look pretty bleak, as the team pretty much has all four available slots assigned to Rafael Betancourt, Matt Belisle, Rex Brothers and Matt Reynolds. This was likely a factor in this decision, but with Putnam being claimed by the Chicago Cubs, it probably lands as the biggest surprise thus far.
This is where the news ends for now, but I don't expect this to be the final word on outright assignments. Edgmer Escalona, Will Harris, Carlos Torres (whom we now know has cleared waivers and has been outrighted) and Matt McBride, among others, remain outright candidates that may be currently in the process of clearing waivers. In one or two days, do not be surprised if the Rockies outright these or other players.
So what does this mean for the roster? The Rockies are now outside of their miniature roster crunch, with the current 40-man roster standing at 34, with 37 total players. The Rockies may now activate Todd Helton, Christian Friedrich and Juan Nicasio from the 60-day disabled list with ease (which we now know has been done), as well as leaving room to protect players such as Tim Wheeler, Joe Gardner and Cristhian Adames at the Reserves Deadline in a couple of weeks. If the Rockies end up outrighting more players, which I still believe they will, there may be room on the roster for fringe protection candidates like Kent Matthes, Ben Paulsen, Coty Woods or Parker Frazier. The Rockies may also choose to leave that roster space open for free agent signings or waiver claims of their own, but none of those things are really on our radar right now.
The Rockies have already protected Rob Scahill and Rafael Ortega by giving them September callups at the end of the 2012 season.