The Colorado Rockies have traded outfielder Corey Dickerson and third base prospect Kevin Padlo to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for left-handed reliever Jake McGee and starting pitching prospect German Marquez.
Wait. Say that again?
The Colorado Rockies have traded outfielder Corey Dickerson and third base prospect
The Rockies traded a prospect? A good one?
The past few days, almost every single writer has focused on the names included in the trade and come to some conclusion regarding the value, timing, or motivation behind the trade. As Rockies fans, I think we should really be paying close attention to a subtle, but potentially huge, shift in how the club's front office operates.
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The previous Colorado general manager was notorious for holding onto homegrown draft picks. In fact, Dan O'Dowd was famous for saying that trading Chone Figgins was "the worst trade I ever made." Yes -- Figgins, who was boasting a .220/.306/.310 line at Double-A Carolina when O'Dowd traded him to the Los Angeles Angels in 2001. As a result, the Rockies hoarded their draft picks as the majority busted in the upper levels instead of taking advantage of good seasons from prospects and exchanging them for value, either at the major or minor league level.
With the Dickerson trade, we now have a couple of data points to work with showing that maybe, just maybe, the Bridich front office is more willing to treat prospects as currency instead of as sure-fire MLB players-in-waiting, a hallmark approach of the O'Dowd regime.
Our first data point? It happened a little over a year ago:
January 30, 2015: [David Hale] Traded by the Atlanta Braves with Gus Schlosser to the Colorado Rockies for Jose Briceno (minors) and Chris O'Dowd (minors)
At the time of this deal, Briceno was a decent catching prospect coming off a great season at Asheville, where he put up a line of .283/.336/.476 (125 wRC+). Our 2015 winter PuRPs rankings rated Briceno No. 24 overall, ahead of guys such as Jordan Patterson and Sam Moll.
Following the trade, Briceno proceeded to post a dismal .183/.215/.267 line in 327 plate appearances for the High-A Carolina Mudcats and was promptly included as a throw-in in the Andrelton Simmons trade this past fall. Briceno will get a chance for a rebound with the Angels but now looks more and more like organizational filler.
This trade, though minor in results, should have been more significant. You could make the argument that Briceno was the highest-rated prospect the Rockies traded this century up to that point. Let me repeat that:
Briceno was the highest-rated prospect the Colorado Rockies traded this century.
That says quite a bit more about the Rockies' front office than it does about Briceno, but it does lead us to the minor league element of last week's Dickerson-for-McGee swap.
Regardless of your thoughts on the trade as a whole, the fact that Bridich moved Padlo in a trade -- especially after a big season in Boise -- should set off some alarms. Not because Padlo is guaranteed to be a franchise-altering loss on the farm (that discussion is for many articles over the next couple of years), but because the front office was willing to utilize that value in a transaction with another club. We simply haven't seen that willingness from a Rockies GM for the vast majority of the team's existence.
Padlo could become great. He could wash out in Double-A. That part of the trade is unlikely to be known for several years. The trade itself, though, suggests that we may see fewer Tim Wheelers sitting around in Triple-A. Bridich has now traded two decent prospects after breakout seasons, cashing in when their value was high. Isn't that what we've been begging a Rockies GM to do for over a decade? Padlo was a helium prospect, gaining in scouting circles. Bridich is betting that his value is unlikely to rise much further and cashed in.
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For a moment, a brief moment, the Rockies front office acted like any other baseball club and used their farm as a source of currency. It may hurt because this particular player is your prospect du jour, but at least there was movement. Someone wanted one of the Rockies' prospects and the club actually pulled the trigger to exchange it for other value, especially after a season that may have inflated the value of a prospect above and beyond his initial draft slot.
Even if the result of the trade leaves you with a stench of foul odor, the process of the trade leaves hope that the future could bring a breeze of fresh air.