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Ranking the Rockies: No. 7 Nick Hundley enjoyed a career year at the plate

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The Rockies' biggest free agent splash ahead of 2015, Nick Hundley was as good as advertised — if not better — for Colorado this summer.

Nick Hundley was worth nearly every penny of his contract this summer.
Nick Hundley was worth nearly every penny of his contract this summer.
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Not much needs to be said about Nick Hundley's offense in 2015; the 32-year old catcher enjoyed a career year at the plate for the Colorado Rockies, no doubt buoyed partially by playing home games at Coors Field, and partially by the fact that he registered the second-most games played and second-most plate appearances of his entire career.

That jump in playing time allowed him to rack up raw numbers—Hundley had career highs in doubles (21) and triples (5) while knocking the second-most single-season home runs (10) and second-most RBIs (43) of his career—but it's also Hundley's slash line rates that were encouraging in 2015.

He slashed .301/.339/.467 with an .807 OPS, far and away one of his two most productive offensive seasons (the other coming in 2011 with the San Diego Padres), while earning both the second-highest OPS+ (104) and wRC+ (103) of his career, as well. All good, right? After all, we were high on him in May, and then high on him again in July.

Well... while there's plenty to love about Nick Hundley, he also struggled with duties critical to his position, like pitch framing, as Eric Garcia-McKinley pointed out in August. That the Rockies would replace a poor defensive catcher (Wilin Rosario) with a free agent who still ranked near the bottom of the league in certain defensive catching metrics is disappointing, of course (though Hundley was light years head of Rosario in, well, every single way behind the plate).

Taken all together, though, for the $3.15 million he made this season, Nick Hundley was a bargain. And for the $3.1 million he'll be due again in 2016, he'll likely be a bargain again.

But then... there's the future.

Nick Hundley's 2016 outlook

Hundley will be in the final year of his contract in 2016, and while he won't be making a ton of money, it appears Tom Murphy is fast preparing to become the catcher of the future. Murphy makes the league minimum. So too does Dustin Garneau, an intriguing backup back stop, as will Ryan Casteel, should he get a look or two up in Denver from Triple-A Albuquerque at some point.

All this—plus a very good 2015 from Hundley—could put the Rockies in a position to sell high on their veteran either during 2016, or perhaps even before the season begins. A catcher with one year left on a contract that will break nobody's bank, coming off a good offensive season (yeah, yeah, Coors Field) is a veteran catcher that may find several suitors. Carlos Gonzalez-level trade rumors these are not, but Hundley might fetch an intriguing return should another team find they really need a catcher.

I suppose it all depends on how Murphy looks in Spring Training, and how Garneau (and perhaps Casteel) take to the larger responsibility of handling a big league pitching staff as the Rockies try to make a quick a determination of their catching future in March. Or ... well, actually, you tell me what you think about this one. I have a feeling the Purple Row camp is divided on Mr. Hundley's future.