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Rockies trade rumors: The case for, and against, keeping Carlos Gonzalez

It looks like CarGo isn't going anywhere, if recent reports are to be believed. Here's why that's good -- and bad.

Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

The Colorado Rockies reportedly plan to refrain from trading Carlos Gonzalez this offseason, perhaps putting an end to near-constant speculation surrounding the star outfielder.

Rockies GM Jeff Bridich recently told Gonzalez as much, according to Venezuelan baseball reporter Wilmer Reina, meaning the 30-year-old veteran will get to play with friend and new teammate Gerardo Parra (ParGo, anyone?) for at least a portion of 2016. Bridich went on to express a slightly different, but still related, tone to Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post:

"I did speak with CarGo. I told him that there's a lot of media rumors, speculation and guessing going on about his status. (I) reminded him that if he reads something but doesn't see me quoted directly, then it is likely a rumor or a guess and nothing more."

That doesn't exactly scream "CarGo isn't getting traded," but let's pretend that this latest news surrounding the two-time All-Star isn't simply a leverage play from Bridich, and that the Rockies really do plan on keeping him around to begin the season. As expected, there are some well-defined pros and cons to the apparent decision.

The case for keeping CarGo

There's a good chance that the Rockies didn't get the type of offers they felt they should have in trade talks revolving around Gonzalez. There are many reasons for this.

His home/road splits could be overblown, though I'm inclined to believe that people who work for teams and make a living analyzing things like this think more along the lines of what Mike Petriello so gallantly laid out here. But the bigger issue is likely that teams still aren't sold on CarGo's ability to stay healthy.

Though he played in 153 games in 2015, Gonzalez missed 92, 52, 27 and 35 contests in each of his previous four seasons. We know how good a healthy CarGo can be, but he's probably going to have to demonstrate that for at least another half of a season before everyone else is sold on it, too.

The good news is that if Gonzalez stays on the field and plays up to his potential for the first few months of 2016, with a year and a half remaining on his contract, the Rockies would likely be able to fetch a much better haul than they're seemingly being offered now. And, on the not completely out-of-this-world chance that the Rockies' strong farm starts to manifest itself at the big league level and it looks like the team has a shot at contention in 2017 as a result, they could do a lot worse than having a still relatively young CarGo in the middle of their lineup.

It also can't be ignored that the sweet-swinging, left-handed slugger is -- for better or worse -- a huge part of who the Rockies are. A lot of that brings back all of the bad "what could have been" feelings, but it was just a few months ago when he was blasting home runs on a nightly basis while establishing himself as perhaps the hottest second-half hitter in baseball.

To put it more simply, CarGo is a blast to watch. The Rockies, no matter what they do from a roster perspective from now until Opening Day, aren't going to be good in 2016. But at least we'll have No. 5 -- and from what we saw last season, it's the No. 5 we all thought we would get for many years after he signed a lucrative contract extension following the 2010 campaign.

The case against it

When the Rockies shipped Troy Tulowitzki to the Toronto Blue Jays for three pitching prospects (and Jose Reyes) last July, the sliver lining was that it appeared Bridich and his staff were beginning the rebuilding process that arguably should've been initiated three years prior. It's possible that Colorado can still do that if it is able to get a good return in a trade involving Charlie Blackmon and/or Corey Dickerson, but given CarGo's proven ability and still-existent tools, he seems like the player who would give the Rockies their best chance of acquiring what they need to get better in the future.

Nobody in their right mind should expect the Rockies to take 40 cents on the dollar in a deal involving Gonzalez, but holding onto him through at least the first half of 2016 is a significant risk in itself. CarGo has spent a large portion of the last decade dealing with nagging injuries; who's to say it's not going to happen again, and at the worst possible time for a club that should be rebuilding?

That kind of risk exists with every player, no doubt. But it becomes a much bigger gamble when it involves a player who already has a long history of ailments -- and a concerning trend of deteriorating skills.

As mentioned above, Gonzalez's home/road splits are way overblown. That's the case for just about every player who has ever suited up for the Rockies. But his platoon splits, as detailed by Fangraphs' August Fagerstrom, paint an absurdly pessimistic picture.

Despite being at least close to fully healthy, Gonzalez hit just .195/.222/.308 against left-handed pitchers last season, a noticeable drop-off from his still-poor .241/.256/.379 line in those situations when he was dealing with injuries in 2014. CarGo has always been a little bit weak against southpaws -- he'll enter 2016 with a career .266/.305/.440 line against them -- but if his recent trend continues, he'll be in danger of becoming a platoon player on an upper-division club.

That tells us that whatever offers the Rockies did receive for CarGo this offseason may end up being the best they'll get, in which case yet another golden opportunity to trade a player before he enters a rapid decline will be wasted by Colorado's front office. That is a nightmare scenario for a team that needs to build for 2018, not 2016.

★ ★ ★

Whatever happens with CarGo, it would best serve us all to appreciate all he's done in a Rockies uniform. And, perhaps unlike previous iterations of star-player trades, take the opportunity to savor what could be the last few days or months or years -- whenever those may be -- in Denver for one of the more talented players ever to don purple pinstripes.

We didn't really get to do that with Tulowitzki. Or Ubaldo Jimenez. Or Larry Walker. So let's make sure we do it with CarGo ... starting now:

See? Doesn't that feel better already?