The Rockies only had two catchers on their roster after Yorvit Torrealba left via free agency, and the same two remain: Wilin Rosario, the projected starter, and Jordan Pacheco as his backup. Much has been said about Pacheco's claim on the backup catcher spot after the rotten 2013 he displayed. While it isn't incorrect to rationalize this decision with the fact that the backup catcher's offensive contribution is minimal, starting only somewhere between 1-2 games per week, I am more concerned about depth purposes than anything else. While I don't expect the Rockies to necessarily look for a reason to move on from Pacheco, I'm still looking to see 2-3 more catchers with at least similar potential to take a look at. So far, the non-roster additions of Matt McBride and Jackson Williams are the closest we've come. Pacheco alone already being on the roster gives him a significant advantage.
While Troy Tulowitzki and Nolan Arenado's roles with the team look stable, the other two infield positions need a little bit more attention. The Rockies opted to replace Todd Helton with two years (plus a mutual option) of Justin Morneau. Many, including myself, would have preferred signing an outfielder to bump Michael Cuddyer to first base, a move that could have improved both our lineup and our defensive arrangement. Cuddyer is still likely to see significant time at first base, especially if the Rockies are hesitant to play Morneau against lefty pitchers, which is not a bad idea. Both catchers on the roster can also play first base if necessary.
With the Rockies trading bench mainstay Jonathan Herrera to the Red Sox earlier this month, the outlook for projected starting second baseman DJ LeMahieu changes, as do the chances of Josh Rutledge being allowed a chance to make the opening day roster. LeMahieu's glove-first reputation places him as the likely solution to back up Tulowitzki and Arenado at positions he has experience with, meaning that even if LeMahieu is playing second base frequently, he could be first in line to move over.
We need another middle infielder as the result, and there is no more appropriate answer on the 40-man than Rutledge himself. Earlier in the offseason, Rutledge was a possible right handed bat addition to the infield bench, but I felt more comfortable giving Rutledge a chance to develop further with the Sky Sox. It seems that the team's insistence that Rutledge would be given every chance to make the team are indeed true, and now Rutledge is in a prime position to retake second base and let LeMahieu move into the traditional utility role, particularly at third base where Rutledge has no experience.
If the Rockies are uncomfortable without a dedicated infield corner guy to provide greater depth, Ryan Wheeler is their only answer currently on the roster. Earlier in the offseason, Wheeler's left-handed status worked against him, but with the acquisition of more right-handed bats like Drew Stubbs and Brandon Barnes, this is less of a concern. Interestingly, Wheeler's biggest roster competitor might not be another infielder at all, but Rule 5 reliever Tommy Kahnle, based upon whether or not the Rockies decide to go with a five man bench of an eight man pen. Charlie Culberson is another option for another line of defense at third base, but with the Rockies interested in continuing to expand his utility skillset to the outfield, it makes more sense to do that in Colorado Springs than in place of an outfielder, an area that is already overcrowded.
Finally, young infield prospects Cristhian Adames and Rosell Herrera are likely to open the season as starting shortstops for the Sky Sox and Nuts, respectively, though the organization's plans with Trevor Story may have an impact on Herrera's development schedule. Kyle Parker spent his time in the Arizona Fall League continuing his development at first base, but the acquisition of Morneau is likely to mean that at the very least, Parker will not leave behind the outfield altogether in favor of a complete infield conversion. Because of this, I will be covering Parker in tomorrow's outfield article.
- Justin Morneau $5M, signed through 2015 with a 2016 mutual option (1 option remains, but under Gen. 5 protection)
- Troy Tulowitzki $16M, signed through 2020 with a 2021 club option (3 options remain, but under Gen. 5 protection)
- Cristhian Adames (2 options remain)
- Nolan Arenado (3 options remain)
- Charlie Culberson (1 option remains)
- Rosell Herrera (3 options remain)
- DJ LeMahieu (0 options remain, but qualifies for bonus option year for 2014 due to limited professional career)
- Jordan Pacheco (out of options)
- Wilin Rosario (2 options remain)
- Josh Rutledge (2 options remain)
- Ryan Wheeler (2 options remain)