Is a non-tender day trade in the works?
I imagine this is sort of like the April 15th tax deadline for major league players, a somber occasion as teams sever ties with players that just didn't perform well enough for them to keep any longer at their current cost. Often these are fan favorites that we've watched grow with the organization. Last season Garrett Atkins was a victim, Clint Barmes would have been this year had he not been traded. However, sans Barmes, for the Rockies in 2010, the only player we've heard could be on the wire is recently acquired Manny Delcarmen, who many of us may have more bitter memories of what he did with the Red Sox in 2007 than we do of what he did with the Rockies in 2010 (actually, they'd probably be bitter either way) so I'm doubting there's going to be the same bittersweet nostalgia today.
We will learn who becomes available to the Rockies and everybody else on the free agent market. As you'll note, that given the winter rumor mill to date, it seems that Rockies fans should pay close attention to what's happening in the AL West today. Names the Rockies have been rumored to be interested in that are listed in the linked article as on the chopping block include:
- Kevin Kouzmanoff and Conor Jackson, A's. Supposedly Oakland is going to tender Jackson, but that may have been a Billy Beane bluff to drive up his trade value.
- Jose Lopez, Mariners. Bleh. Acquiring him remains one of my biggest off-season nightmares for the Rockies. Apparently our scouts see something there that I'm just missing.
- Mike Napoli, Angels. Alright, this one is sort of an end around, the Rockies haven't really been linked to Jeff Mathis (given the need for a catcher, it's possible we will after tonight) who could be non-tendered, but they have been heavily linked to Mike Napoli, and if the Angels are to trade Napoli before tonight's midnight deadline and keep Mathis, it's a pretty decent chance that the Rockies will be their partner. That said, as the last part of today's Rockpile mentions, this week's other Rockies news and rumors imply that the team will probably not be making any big moves (besides the potential non-tender of Delcarmen) today.
How high is the payroll going?
The Rockies are putting out the signals that they're willing to talk to both Ubaldo Jimenez and Carlos Gonzalez about extensions similar to Troy Tulowitzki's that establish them as much a part of the franchise's core as the team's superstar shortstop. A couple of weeks ago I raised a skeptical eyebrow that the team was really giving more than lip service that it would be able to retain all three beyond their team control years. Frankly, I'm still wondering about Gonzalez, since Scott Boras as his agent makes this a pretty safe bluff. This isn't a knock on Boras, by the way, as I think he's typically good at getting his clients as much money as is available to them, but his predictability when it comes to pushing said clients to the open market makes him playable in this manner. A team like the Rockies could say they're open to an extension knowing full well that Boras won't negotiate it and still reap the public relations windfall.
That said, if this is more than just talk, the full implication is that the Rockies are already planning to commit themselves in 2014 to three fair market contracts for six win players. Now, it's not quite as simple as that, as teams, because of an already established player/team brand presence, get more monetary benefit from signing players already with the club than they do from signing outside free agents (so a willingness to extend Ubaldo and CarGo might translate to merely a four or five win free agent contract on the open market) but the big point is that there seems to be a plan in place for a considerable jump in team payroll over the next four years. To sign all three, it implies $105 million plus in payroll by the time Gonzalez's team control seasons have expired. That's a considerable turnaround from the $40 million bottom the payroll reached in 2006, and is one more piece of evidence to suggest that the Rockies are more mid-market than small market.
Killer B vs. Troy G
In recent days the Rockies have been poking around a pair of former All-Star corners to find a fit to replace Jason Giambi's bat off the bench and backup to Todd Helton role, Lance Berkman and Troy Glaus. Figuring out how the pair would fit on the roster initially favors Glaus, who's right handed and doesn't scare us with pipe dreams of playing in the outfield. If the A's are serious and the Rockies offer was, in fact, "low" as Ken Rosenthal hears, it might work out for everybody if he goes that direction.
Targeting either implies that the roster is settling back into the same basic construction we saw last season, and along with the surprising signing of Jorge De La Rosa earlier in the week, would seem to lessen the likelihood of a major trade today or at next week's Winter Meetings. The benefits of a C/1B like Napoli wouldn't be as high with the addition of a Glaus or a Berkman.