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.
Charlie Blackmon is still cheap, but he may be an expendable player for the Rockies - Hayden Kane poses the question of whether the Rockies should make a deal. My take is that Blackmon is a decent player, but one that doesn't belong near the top of the lineup and perhaps in a platoon situation. That kind of player is exactly the kind of player you need on a contender as a supporting player - but a rebuilding team (like the Rockies should be) needs to explore extracting maximum value from these pieces if they can.
Bernie Pleskoff has a feature on Trevor Story (PuRP 4), who just played in the Arizona Fall League for the Rockies. Story is a player that could be in the big leagues as soon as late 2015 but who more realistically might be a mid-2016 call-up for Colorado.
If you'd like, you can vote for some Rockies in the Greatness in Baseball Yearly Awards. Colorado nominees are Nolan Arenado for best defensive player, Corey Dickerson for breakout everyday player, Justin Morneau for bounceback player, Carlos Gonzalez for best outfield throw, Charlie Blackmon for best hitting performance, and Michael Cuddyer for best hitting performance.
Robert Arthur of BP has a new look at quantifying the value of a player swinging or taking any individual pitch. Corey Dickerson winds up fourth in MLB on the list.
Miles Wray examines the teams that already have the most payroll committed for future seasons - from 2015 to 2028. The Rockies don't appear on any of these lists - their only payroll commitment past 2017 is $20 million to Troy Tulowitzki from here through 2019, with $14 million in 2020 and a $15 million option in 2021. It's still a bargain.
This is a list that will broke considerable disagreement - but as someone who recently re-watched Rookie of the Year, it really is cringe-worthy from a baseball and logic perspective. There's some doozies here.
Finally, the big MLB news yesterday was the trade of A's third baseman Josh Donaldson to the Blue Jays for a package of four players, including Brett Lawrie. Keith Law is not a fan for the A's portion of the deal, while Dave Cameron is also scratching his head about it. Billy Beane has built up a considerable about of credibility as a GM, but this is a bemusing move to me in a vacuum.