Not long after the World Series concluded, Max Rieper of Royals Review headed up SB Nation’s MLB offseason simulation. I took the reins of the Rockies for the sim, and along with several other Purple Row staff members put together an offseason we think fans will approve of.
The Rockies ran contrary to most teams in the sim by having a fairly quiet offseason, making just one trade and two free agent signings. By contrast, the Royals made eight trades and signed five free agents. Despite the relative lack of activity, we feel the moves we made would put the Rockies in position to contend in 2017.
Much of the talk early in the sim centered around a pair of trades that never quite materialized, as we discussed a trade with the Cubs that would have brought Jorge Soler to Colorado and a deal with the Angels that would have centered around Carlos Gonzalez and C.J. Cron. Unfortunately, the Cubs’ asking price on Soler became higher than we were willing to pay and we could not agree on secondary pieces with the Angels as they had already traded our top relief target from them, Cam Bedrosian.
As those deals fell through, interest picked up in Charlie Blackmon, with several teams inquiring about his services. We discussed deals with several of them before making this trade:
- Colorado Rockies trade OF Charlie Blackmon to Mariners for RHP James Paxton and RHP Dan Altavilla
Paxton was obviously the main target in the trade, and will slot in alongside Tyler Anderson behind Jon Gray in the Rockies’ 2017 rotation. He pitched 121 innings with Seattle in 2016, with a 3.78 ERA and 2.80 FIP, striking out 117 and accumulating 3.5 fWAR.
He also fits in to Jeff Bridich’s mold of hard throwers, as the 96.8 MPH average on his fastball was second among starters behind only the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard. He complements the fastball with a cutter and a knuckle curve. Coming to the Rockies, he will be reunited with his former University of Kentucky teammate Chris Rusin.
The second player we received in the trade was Altavilla, a 24-year-old reliever who made his big league debut with Seattle last season, allowing just one run in 12 1⁄3 innings with a walk and 10 strikeouts. We expect Altavilla to begin the season in the bullpen.
Other Blackmon deals that were discussed included trades with the Nationals and Cardinals with talks centered around pitchers Joe Ross and Luke Weaver, respectively, but ultimately the Mariners met our needs and got a deal done.
After acquiring Paxton and Altavilla, our attention turned to first base. With a soft market for hitters developing, we looked to free agency for our solution, ultimately landing one of the best free agents on the market at any position:
- Colorado Rockies sign 1B Edwin Encarnacion to a four-year, $80 million deal
To address the elephant in the room, yes, we are giving up our first-round draft pick to sign Encarnacion. That said, given the reasonable financial commitment, the fit on the roster and the impact he can make, we feel it is worth it to put one of the game’s best first basemen in purple pinstripes.
Over the past five seasons, Encarnacion has hit 193 home runs, second in baseball behind Baltimore’s Chris Davis, now a power bat of that caliber is coming to Coors Field and will fit nicely in the middle of the lineup with Gonzalez, Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story.
Not only will Encarnacion bring power, but over the last five seasons he has walked 12.5% of the time and struck out just 15.1% of the time, making him the kind of patient hitter the Rockies lack.
It is a risk, but we feel that Encarnacion is the type of player that can push the Rockies into October.
Before the sim ended, we made one final move, though not nearly as large as the last two. We had money left in the budget and felt it was important to add another lefty to the bullpen, so we made this signing:
- Colorado Rockies sign LHP Fernando Abad to a one-year, $1.5 million deal
Abad is not flashy, but we feel he can be a solid left-handed option in the bullpen. He posted a 3.66 ERA and 3.98 FIP in 57 appearances with the Twins and Red Sox in 2016.
The one other thing we would have liked to do was acquire a right-handed bat in the outfield, though there were several of those left on the market when the sim ended. That aside, we feel we improved the team in this fake offseason and that the roster we assembled could contend for a playoff spot in 2017.