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Thursday Rockpile: Are Rockies nearly tapped out after Francis signing?

The Rockies contract details with Jeff Francis come out as the signing becomes official, but there are also hints that the Rockies might be nearing an end to the winter's player acquisition phase, with relatively minor free agents like Jeff Karstens and Freddy Garcia now the focus. This could mean that the team's payroll could see a significant cut in 2013.

Leon Halip

Jeff Francis re-signing with the Rockies isn't new information but the details of his contract are, which the Denver Post's Patrick Saunders reports, and the team's focus on Jeff Karstens and/or Freddy Garcia to add more starting depth is somewhat noteworthy. Karstens, like Kevin Correia, is the type of pitcher that the Rockies need to key in on until they find the right combination of a player who's running out of other options yet who could still be useful to a major league team. It's barrel scraping, but the only other option is something akin to what the Marlins did prior to 2012 or the Rockies did with Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle, overpay and then pray that the excess spending works out for you.

In a similar vein, for the first time this winter, we've seen the team's payroll budget explicitly mentioned in a tweet from Troy Renck as a reason for not signing players. The Rockies were a bit more transparent last year about what the budget was, this time around the quiet on the available money front has me a bit concerned that they're anticipating a significant cut. In 2012, the Rockies were down just under 10% in attendance, if the total team revenue was down a similar percentage then we'd be figuring on around an $8 million cut in payroll. However, expanded league revenue from a new national television deal has most small and mid-market teams increasing their spending this winter. Maybe the Rockies can thank the aforementioned Marlins for being this winter's biggest payroll slashers and keeping the attention off them, but as of right now, it's looking like Colorado may be seeing an opening day payroll significantly lower than what it was in 2012.

That said and a bit contrarily, Renck also tweeted that the team has interest in signing another reliever, with Mike Adams being a target before he signed with Philadelphia. Adams' new contract was worth $6 million a season, if the Rockies were in a similar ballpark with what they were willing to offer, it means the team needs to be a bit better with its spending priorities. In scrutinizing the payroll, I don't want the team to spend for spending's sake, but that's almost always what signing relievers like Adams turns out to be.