Boone Logan was a solid and reliable left-handed option out of the bullpen for the Rockies. That surface-level explanation would make Logan interesting in and of itself, but as this franchise started the turn the corner towards relevance in 2016, he came to be more than a good veteran reliever. He became the subject of key questions about the present and future of this version of the Rockies.
The previous front office regime signed Logan to a three-year, $16.5 million contract before the 2014 season. The deal stood out at the time because of the dollar amount and because it seemed like Dan O’Dowd and company misunderstood where the Rockies stood as contenders. That is to say, overpaid left-handed specialists are a luxury rebuilding teams cannot afford.
It didn’t help that Logan spent the next two seasons hurt and pitching poorly. He toiled through bad seasons in 2014 and 2015, serving as fodder for bad Twitter jokes and legitimate criticism of the Rockies and their lack of a plan. In that context, it seemed like both Logan and the Rockies were simply stuck with each other for a third and final year in 2016, waiting for this bad deal to run out. For example, last year’s player review for Logan had the following title: “Our long nightmare with Boone Logan is nearly over.”
Then a funny thing happened: Boone Logan started pitching well. He started looking like the guy he was on the Yankees back in 2013, the guy the Rockies thought worthy of a healthy contract in the first place. He was devastating against left-handed batters and good enough against right-handed batters.
Whether because of good health or simply because of the unpredictable nature of relief pitchers, Logan was a good pitcher again. And just like that, the Rockies had a valuable asset on their hands and a big mid-season decision to consider. Logan went from being the big mistake we made jokes about to being at the center of intriguing conversations about how the Rockies viewed themselves in 2016 and how soon Jeff Bridich thinks his team can contend.
The Rockies could have traded Logan near the July deadline; in hindsight, it is obvious that they should have, and there was a reasonable argument for it at the time even as the team lingered in the NL Wild Card race. There was more nuance to that option than there was to keeping him. To keep Boone Logan meant that the Rockies thought they were contenders right at that moment, not in a year or two. And keep him they did.
Whether you think they were right or not, that decision gave us a glimpse into what the front offices thinks of this team and how soon they can contend. We can thank Boone Logan for that, and just as much as his unexpected turnaround on the mound, that made him a fascinating player this season.
Logan is a free agent. One imagines that the Rockies would be interested in a reunion, prompting us once again to observe what a difference a year makes. The market will likely be kind to Logan, however, and he might have eyes for another team that’s willing to pay him and doesn’t play its home games at Coors Field.