Like all Major League teams do every winter, the Colorado Rockies are going through the offseason roster churn, losing both big league and minor league free agents while picking up newcomers in an attempt to remedy a rough year. We'll continue to profile newcomers over the winter, but for now, here's where all former Rockies from 2015 will be next summer.
As we see where the free agents on this list sign, too, we'll keep tabs on their performances moving forward and update ahead of Spring Training. Fare thee well, old friends!
On December 11th, Axford, 32, signed a two year, $10 million contract with the Oakland Athletics. The righty will bolster an A's bullpen along side fellow newcomer Ryan Madson and relief mainstay Sean Doolittle, after having saved 25 games for the Rockies in 2015. According to the A's, Doolittle is the projected closer, but he also pitched just 12 games in 2015 due to a shoulder injury. Axford will certainly help in the late innings for Oakland considering his past experience.
Morneau, 34, definitely doesn't want to retire according to recent reports, but he also hasn't been linked to any teams more than supposition and rumors. Obviously, there are a few clubs that might need a temporary first baseman/designated hitter, and Morneau has remained wide open to all options in front of him, so we'll see where the former National League batting champ lands in 2016.
Kendrick, 31, is still unsigned heading into the new year, though the Pittsburgh Pirates have expressed interest in the right-handed pitcher as a reclamation project, especially since he'll be cheap and he's not tied to a draft pick. The Bucs may no longer be interested now, though, considering their recent acquisition of Ryan Vogelsong. No matter what Kendrick does in 2016, assuming he stays healthy, it'd be hard not to rebuild some value after a very disappointing year in Denver.
Rosario, 26, hasn't had many public rumors or discussions in free agency after the Rockies designated him for assignment and then jettisoned him at the very beginning of December. There are some clubs that might make sense for Wilin, but thus far, nothing has stuck going into 2016. There's little chance he spends time behind the plate in any significant way in the future, so we'll see if an American League team needs a designated hitter/first baseman/whatever this winter.
Brown, 30, was claimed off waivers by the Los Angeles Dodgers after the 2015 season, his second as a big leaguer with the Rockies. In early December, the Dodgers outrighted him off their Major League roster, indicating he'll likely begin 2016 in Triple-A Oklahoma City. Considering the Dodgers' bullpen depth and health issues the last several years, though, there's a good shot Brown spends some time at Chavez Ravine next summer.
If you don't know what happened to Tulo by now, you might be on the wrong website. Also, there's this.
Betancourt, 40, was designated for assignment by the Rockies back in August after struggling mightily through much of 2015. He'll go down as one of the Rockies' best relievers ever, but his best days are long behind him. In fact, all of his days may be behind him — while Betancourt is still technically a free agent, it's not likely there are too many teams that would give him an opportunity come spring time.
McKenry, 30, struggled as the Rockies' backup catcher for most of 2015 after a particularly strong 2014 season, and he couldn't finish the year, being placed on the 60-day disabled list in mid-August to have knee surgery. After the year, he rejected a minor league assignment and declared free agency. His loss isn't too significant with the ascension of Tom Murphy, but his bat will probably play somewhere around the big leagues in 2016; however so far this winter he has yet to be linked to any new clubs.
Flande, 29, surprised the team and everyone else (well, everyone besides yours truly) by being one of the Rockies' most dependable pitchers in 2015. That earned him a non-tender in early December, and eventual free agency after he was taken off the 40-man roster. He'll look around the league this offseason, but like he did after 2014, Flande's best bet may be to return to Denver and slot into the Rockies' depth chart as a long relief swingman and emergency spot starter.
Brothers, 28, was traded to the Chicago Cubs for minor league pitcher Wander Cabrera right before Thanksgiving, just a few days after the Rockies designated him for assignment to make room on their roster ahead of the Rule 5 Draft. Brothers never quite turned into the closer of the future that the Rockies expected him to become; now, he'll get a fresh start with a playoff-caliber club, and has a good shot at seeing time as a lefty out of the pen at Wrigley Field.
Like Brothers, Kahnle, 26, was traded after being designated for assignment in November as the Rockies cleared space on their 40-man roster. For Kahnle, the destination is that other Major League organization in Chicago, and he'll be fighting for a job in the big league 'pen on the South Side in 2016. If he can find the command that betrayed the end of his tenure in Colorado, Kahnle has the power stuff to fill a back-end bullpen spot at some point in the Major Leagues.
Stubbs, 31, was designated for assignment by the Rockies in August before being released after slashing just .216/.286/.431 in 102 at-bats. Always a human wind farm, the University of Texas product took it to another level this past summer with a whopping 50 strikeouts in his 114 plate appearances in Denver. He caught on with the Rangers four days later, and even struck out in his only at-bat of the postseason with Texas, but was granted free agency in November when the club decided not to move forward with the outfielder. Recently, baseball writers have hypothesized Stubbs could wind up as a bench outfielder with a team like the Atlanta Braves, but as of now, he's still a free agent.
Culberson, 26, is best remembered in Denver as the return the Rockies received in exchange for handing the San Francisco Giants a World Series Championship. In 2015, the former first round draft pick got 20 plate appearances in Triple-A Albuquerque, slashed .200/.200/.400, and was then granted free agency after the season ended. In November, he signed a minor league deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and he'll serve as depth for the team's Triple-A Oklahoma City affiliate, likely along side former Rockies teammate Brooks Brown.
McBride, 30, never really got a chance to find a rhythm in the big leagues, slashing just .199/.228/.305 over 158 plate appearances in 72 games across three different seasons with the Rockies. He's a free agent this winter, and may be looking for greener pastures outside of Colorado after spending the last several years in purgatory. Or, he could do the same thing he did after the 2014 season, and re-sign with the Rockies on a minor league contract and spend most of his time in Triple-A Albuquerque. Either way, the clock ticks.
Laffey, 30, tossed a handful of innings for the Rockies in 2015, and considering the difficult life of a minor league call-up, threw the ball pretty well. He was rewarded earlier in December when the Washington Nationals signed him to a minor league contract with an invitation to big league spring training, in what will be his second stint in that organization.
While Laffey earned and got his big league call-up in 2015, Nina, 27, took care of the first part without getting that phone call as a reward. The second baseman slashed .300/.333/.402 in 114 games with Triple-A Albuquerque, and declared minor league free agency after the season, his ninth in the Rockies' organization. On November 19, the Philadelphia Phillies signed Nina and gave him an invite to Major League spring training. Nina has yet to make his big league debut, but the Phillies are bad; here's to him breaking through, however briefly, with Philly in 2016.
Rondón, 27, gave up 11 runs (ten earned) in an inning of work with the Rockies in 2015, before the club dumped him midseason and he was acquired by the Baltimore Orioles. He didn't do much better in Baltimore, allowing 15 runs (11 earned) in 13 innings over eight games, before the O's designated him for assignment after the season. Always a hard-thrower, Rondón had lots of success for the Rockies' and Orioles' Triple-A clubs in 2015, and was quickly picked up in November by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He'll go to camp with the Bucs this spring and likely start the season in Triple-A again, hoping to be on the bullpen taxi squad for the NL Central club.
Like Rondón, Roberts, 27, pitched briefly for the Rockies in 2015, and like Rondón, Roberts was designated for assignment in the middle of the season. The Phillies picked up Roberts in August, and after he appeared in six big league games with them at the end of 2015, he was outrighted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley in October. He'll compete for a bullpen job this spring and most likely be Triple-A teammates with Angelys Nina in the Phils' organization next summer.
Bernadina, 31, had a solid season at Triple-A Albuquerque in 2015, slashing .276/.383/.466 in 119 games with 18 doubles, 15 home runs, 58 walks, and 20 stolen bases. It wasn't enough to get the outfielder time on the Rockies' crowded Major League depth chart, though, and he elected free agency in early November. He has yet to sign anywhere, but should get a minor league contract with an invite to spring training for somebody in 2016. Considering how strongly he played this past summer, if he picks his new organization wisely for the spring, he could wind up with some big league time next summer.
Lannan, 31, led the Isotopes in innings pitched in 2015, but didn't have strong numbers, logging a 5.39 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, and .329 batting average against in 26 games (25 starts). His year in Albuquerque was also the first season he didn't appear in the Major Leagues since he first broke in to the bigs in 2007 with the Nationals. He elected free agency in November, and has yet to sign with an organization for 2016; he would do well to rebuild some value on a minor league contract somewhere other than one of the hitter-friendly high-altitude parks of the Pacific Coast League, it'd seem.
After making his first and only big league start in 2014 for the Astros, Owens, 28, started 2015 in the Dodgers' organization before he was released in July. The Rockies picked him up and assigned him to Triple-A Albuquerque, where he made seven starts and finished 2-3 with a 6.17 ERA across 35 innings before declaring free agency in November. The lefty has been a key member of Toros del Este's rotation in the Dominican Winter League the last two months, and is pitching to impress big league suitors ahead of spring training, though he remains unsigned to this point.
Wheeler, 27, declared free agency on November 6 after spending seven seasons in the Rockies' organization. The outfielder was a first-round draft pick of the club in 2009 out of Sacramento State University, and after showing power and patience at the plate in his early professional career, stalled out in Triple-A for four straight seasons in the Rockies' system. In 2015, he slashed .245/.345/.367 over 384 at-bats, with 15 doubles, ten home runs, and 16 stolen bases. Considering he's a lifelong Rockies farmhand there's a shot Wheeler returns to the organization this winter, but at least for the time being, he'll test the free agent market.
Bond, 30, appeared in 45 games at Triple-A Albuquerque in 2015 after he was released from the Los Angeles Angels' organization due to an underwhelming performance in 15 games in Double-A to start the year. The infielder slashed .259/.344/.272 in 81 at-bats with 11 walks against 15 strikeouts for the Isotopes, before he elected free agency in early November. The University of Missouri product will enter his tenth professional season in 2016, and has yet to catch on with another organization ahead of the New Year.
A seventh round draft pick by the Rockies in 2010 out of Oregon State University, Sutton, 27, spent time on the 40-man roster the last several years but never made it to Triple-A ball on the field. After going 3-2 with a save and a 2.97 ERA in 46 games for Double-A New Britain this past summer, the left-handed reliever declared free agency on November 6th. He'll test the open market this winter armed with a career 22-18 record with a 3.43 ERA, eight saves, and a 1.36 WHIP across 260 relief appearances over six years in the Rockies' organization.
Barfield, 27, had an interesting 2015 before declaring free agency on November 11; the outfielder had initially signed with the Rockies going into Spring Training before he was released in March and picked up by Quintana Roo of the Mexican League. He struggled in Quintana Roo, going just 4-for-38 over 11 games, before he was released there and re-signed by the Rockies. He split the rest of 2015 between Double-A New Britain and Triple-A Albuquerque, slashing just .217/.295/.350 — and this, after trying to covert to a pitcher in the Athletics' organization in 2014. It'd be surprising to see him back with Colorado next summer.
Brazoban, 26, didn't pitch in the Rockies' organization in 2015 due to an injury, and declared free agency in November after a lost season that followed three years in the Rockies' low minor leagues. In his career, Brazoban has appeared in 62 games (most in rookie ball and short-season), with a 2-3 record and a 4.67 ERA. Much older than comparable players with his experience level, the Dominican right-hander will now look for a minor league contract — and hope for good health — in 2016.
Like Brazoban, Castillo, 26, missed all of 2015 due to an injury and has left the Rockies in free agency this winter. The right-handed pitcher started 25 games at Double-A Tulsa in 2014 after seven years in the Cardinals' organization, but he struggled across 136 innings there (.284 opponents' average, 1.46 WHIP, 5.41 ERA, and just a 3-12 record). He played in the Venezuelan Winter League last year and may look for some time there again in the next month this winter to re-build value for potential suitors before Spring Training.
Evans, 28, was signed by the Rockies as a minor league free agent in May 2015 after spending seven years in the Miami Marlins' organization. After making 12 starts for Double-A New Britain, and going 6-5 with a 3.33 ERA, a .225 opponents' batting average, and a 1.07 WHIP, the righty declared free agency on November 6th. Along with Rudy Owens, Evans is throwing for Toros del Este this winter as he searches for an opportunity in 2016.
Gomez, 29, declared free agency in November after spending his seventh year in the Rockies' organization in 2015. The right-handed pitcher appeared in just eight games (three starts) this past summer, going 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA before landing on the disabled list with a strained right elbow at the end of May. He'll look for a minor league job somewhere in 2016 after spending the vast majority of his seven-year career thus far in middle relief.
Ortega, 27, spent 2015 in Double-A New Britain's bullpen, going 0-1 with a save and a 4.19 ERA in 45 games, striking out 40 but walking 31 over 53 innings. The coming season will be his tenth in professional baseball, after spending his first eight years in the Detroit Tigers' organization, and then last summer with the Rock Cats. He's also appeared in 14 Major League games, all with Detroit, across his career. He has yet to find a gig for 2016 yet, but as he looks, he's pitching for the Tigres de Aragua in the Venezuelan Winter League.
Whiting, 26, spent the first six years of his professional career in the St. Louis Cardinals' organization, until he was released by Triple-A Memphis on May 22, 2015, after a tough start to the season. The right-handed pitcher caught on with Triple-A Albuquerque and went 4-7 with a 6.04 ERA, 1.82 WHIP and .312 opponents' batting average in 17 games (11 starts), while also being placed on the temporarily inactive list three times and the disabled list once across the rest of 2015. He declared free agency in November, and is looking for his next opportunity in affiliated ball this winter.
After initially being signed as a position player by the Rockies in 2009, Yan, 24, was converted to a pitcher ahead of the 2014 season. Two full seasons later the experiment hasn't worked out, and after an underwhelming performance at Rookie-level Grand Junction in 12 games this past summer, Yan is now a free agent. Certainly with a strong arm, Yan may catch on somewhere — or re-sign with Colorado — but a 24-year-old pitcher who hasn't crested rookie ball by virtue of a position change and slow adjustment period doesn't have many chances left.
Rivera, 25, declared free agency in November after his first seven years of professional baseball were spent in the Rockies' organization, culminating at Triple-A Albuquerque in 2015. The second baseman slashed .258/.295/.341 in 51 games this past summer, only walking six times in 132 at-bats. A .230/.289/.308 hitter across 346 minor league games (1,050 at-bats), the light-hitting Rivera has yet to catch on with an organization seeking middle infield depth in the high minors for 2016.
Massey, 26, is a free agent this winter after spending his first eight seasons of professional baseball in the Rockies' organization after the club drafted him out of a Tennessee high school in 2008. In those eight years, the outfielder never made it past Double-A, and in 2015 slashed just .227/.298/.315 for the Rock Cats over 260 at-bats across 72 games. He enters free agency a career .250/.306/.366 hitter over 740 minor league games and 2,737 at-bats.
Paulino, 21, was released by the Rockies this winter after spending two seasons catching in the Rockies' organization at the rookie ball level. Across those two seasons between the Dominican Summer League Rockies and rookie-level Grand Junction, Paulino has slashed .180/.222/.266 over 267 at-bats. We'll see if he catches on anywhere ahead of Spring Training.