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Juan Nicasio trade a precursor for free agent move?

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Was Colorado's trade of Juan Nicasio for a PTBNL or cash a precursor to a larger salary dump or was his money earmarked for a free agent or trade acquisition.?

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As the calendar turns to December, the Rockies front office has yet to show too many of its cards in terms of the direction the team is going this offseason. There's been considerable debate about the true intent of offering Michael Cuddyer a qualifying offer, but fortunately for Colorado's payroll flexibility, Rockies fans won't have to find out what the rest of an offseason with Cuddy still on the roster would look like.

Colorado designating Juan Nicasio for assignment and trading him to the Dodgers this past week was a clear payroll move, as Colorado traded a pitcher set to make about $2.4 million in arbitration who realistically would have ended up as a long man in the bullpen. Nicasio was far from the least useful player on the 40 man roster when it came time to protect Tyler Anderson, but he just might have been the best combination of a high salary and low utility to kill two birds with one stone.

With the Nicasio trade, the Rockies now have about $86.5 million tied up in the 14 players on the roster with an agreed-upon contract or in salary arbitration - meaning a minimum $94 million payroll (where the Rockies were at in 2014) if they stand pat the rest of this offseason.

With that in mind, we'll have to consider whether the move with Nicasio is a precursor to a larger salary dump or if his money is earmarked for a free agent or trade acquisition. I can't imagine the Rockies will go much higher than $100 million for 2015, which would preclude the team from signing even a player like Jason Hammel without exceeding that barrier...unless another move were made to free up salary.

The Winter Meetings that are just around the corner should provide some clarity for the Rockies and their fans.

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