On paper, the January trade between the Colorado Rockies and Atlanta Braves looked like a decently smart move for new general manager Jeff Bridich: the Rockies sent two catchers (Chris O'Dowd and Jose Briceno) to Atlanta in exchange for two pitchers (Gus Schlosser and David Hale).
Considering the fact that the Rockies appear fairly set at catcher for the short-term (and hopefully long-term) future, shipping off two minor league catchers -- including the son of your former general manager -- in exchange for an asset you can never have too much of (pitching, duh) seemed like an intuitive move.
And while it still might end up OK, 2015 did nothing to set Hale apart as a big league option for the Colorado Rockies. In a partial season that also saw him land on the disabled list and in Triple-A, David Hale threw 78.1 innings across 17 games (12 starts), allowing 95 hits and 20 walks for a 1.468 WHIP, while giving up 10 home runs (1.1 per nine innings), and earning a 6.09 ERA, 4.74 FIP, and just a 77 ERA+.
After impressing in his first three starts of the season in late May and early June (19.2 IP, 21 H, 10 R, 9 ER, 0 BB and 14 K with two wins and a 4.12 ERA), the league caught up to Hale; despite walking just three batters per nine innings over the year, opponents teed off, hitting .298 in his nearly 80 innings of big league work. (He was hit even harder in 11 Triple-A starts.) Hale's numbers also don't just reflect the Coors Field issue; while he was by no means good at home this year, by some measurements, he was actually significantly worse on the road.
Hale's 2016 outlook
Having turned 28 at the very end of September, and just wrapping up his third (partial) season in the big leagues, the clock is ticking for the Princeton University product and former 3rd round draft pick. He'll get as good a shot as anybody during Spring Training to prove himself for 2016, and considering how consistently the Rockies run through pitching, Hale will seemingly play a role of some sort next year in Denver. After all, I'd like to think there's a reason the Rockies acquired him.
But (warning: small sample size), in Hale's three seasons, his numbers have gotten progressively worse. He now finds himself pitching in the most difficult environment in the league, already living on the margins with just a 90.3 mile per hour fastball for a club that very well could bury Hale down the depth chart unless he turns in a strong spring performance.
Hale won't go to arbitration until 2017, nor free agency until 2020, so he's cheap, but he's fast running out of minor league options, which will impact his future on any 40-man roster. But for the time being, Hale will be around in some way next year. All I can really keep telling myself is that there's a reason the Rockies acquired him, skeptical of his ability to impact a winning club as I may be. Trust the process, right?
Addendum: Gus Schlosser, the other pitcher acquired in the Hale trade, was assigned to Double-A New Britain for 2015. After underwhelming in 28 games (three starts) in the Eastern League, the Rockies released him on July 30, and he finished the year with the Somerset Patriots of the independent Atlantic League. Welp.