Apr 6, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Colorado Rockies second baseman Marco Scutaro (19) throws a runner out at first against the Houston Astros in the ninth inning at Minute Maid Park on Opening Day. The Rockies defeated the Astros 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE
Scutaro has been... OK for the Rockies this season. He played generally competent 2B defense this season with several forehead-slapping miscues. At the plate, he didn't really impress much, merely batting .271/.324/.361 (77 wRC+) with 4 HR, 47R, and 30 RBI.
The trade partner was a bit surprising, as in-division trades tend to give front offices pause. The San Francisco Giants will be returning AAA 2B Charlie Culberson to Colorado, a former 1st round pick (51st overall, 2007), and proud owner of a career .258/.309/.379 minor-league line spanning 5 seasons.
The Rockies will be sending money along with Scutaro, which makes this a little more puzzling. In 2011, Culberson was rated as the 11th best 2B prospect by Baseball America, but really, I'm wondering what makes this guy worth trading for. This deal appears to be mostly a money thing, trying to move at least part of Scutaro's remaining $2M owed in 2012, but to what end? Saving some money from Jeremy Guthrie more or less made sense, but I guess I'm not seeing what's worth trading for in Culberson, or why moving Scutaro's money was so important.
There's also the possibility that the Giants were the only team interested enough to actually make a deal, but I'm still not entirely sure how this makes sense for Colorado. While Scutaro hasn't exactly been tearing up opposing pitching, he wasn't an awful guy to have around. He's even said that he would be willing to return to Colorado in FA should the opportunity arise.
This could be the precursor to AAA promotions for someone like Tommy Field (who is on the 40-man roster) and/or increased playing time for DJ LeMahieu in the interim, but with Jonathan Herrera on a rehab assignment right now and nearing return, it will be interesting to see what the Rockies are thinking they're going to be getting out of Culberson. Who knows, maybe another team is just jonesing for Culberson, but didn't have a 36-year-old 2B with a declining glove and bat to trade to Brian Sabean.