Ladies and gentlemen, I am honored to present to you the Win-Now Colorado Rockies.
I know, I probably sound crazy. “A team coming off of 75 wins last season,” you say, “and years of losing before that is ready to make the jump to contention? Get the hell outta here.”
Here’s the thing: I won’t get the hell outta here, because I’m right. A mature, talented lineup combined with a solid young pitching staff and a bullpen that is most likely going to benefit from positive regression to the mean is going to mean good things for this club going forward.
It just needs a few parts to bring everything together.
The good news is that the Rockies don’t have to go full 2015 Padres or 2016 Diamondbacks in order to achieve the ultimate goal of contention in 2017. Nolan Arenado is already in place. And DJ LeMahieu. And Trevor Story. And Jon Gray, Tyler Anderson, Chad Bettis and Adam Ottavino.
You get the point.
Plus, the team doesn’t even necessarily have to trade Charlie Blackmon and/or Carlos Gonzalez, as many have suggested, to get the help it needs. If anything, these Rockies can—and should—win with these players right now, 2018 and beyond be damned. It sounds like a tall order, but it can be done. Here’s how:
Sign Mark Trumbo
The Rockies are interested in the 30-year-old slugger, according to multiple reports from the Winter Meetings, and for good reason. Trumbo, despite issues with strikeouts and on-base percentage, led the majors in homers last season with 47 and, when healthy, has been a near lock for 30 homers annually. Those are solid power numbers as it is; the hot takes about Coors Field improving offense are true, in case you didn’t know, so Trumbo improving upon that output at the plate is a likely scenario if he ends up donning purple pinstripes.
Defensively, Trumbo’s struggles have been well documented over the years, but consider this: in 3046 innings as a first baseman, he’s been worth 12 runs above average, per Baseball-Reference. That’s not bad. What also isn’t bad is that, considering Trumbo ended up with more than 100 runs created for the Orioles last season, it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility that he could add almost a run per game at Coors Field for the Rockies.
In other words, score more runs (while also doing your best to limit them defensively)! That would certainly help alleviate any concern over the pitching staff’s propensity to melt down. Trumbo would help with that. Chris Carter, who was recently non-tendered by the Brewers and will be available on the cheap, is a somewhat formidable backup plan. Get runners on base, hit dingers, collect Ws. Leave it out of the pitchers’ hands. It’s not that hard to envision.
The downside to this is the Orioles have reportedly made a four-year offer—possibly in excess of $70 million—to retain Trumbo. The Rockies would have to, at the very least, match it. Extra years (ouch) or extra money (better) would be a major factor in whether the team can afford to do it.
The other problem is that the acquisition of Trumbo would cost the Rockies the 11th overall pick in the upcoming draft, to which I say screw three/four/five years from now. This team can compete this year; 2021 can wait.
Sign Neftali Feliz and/or Brad Ziegler
Mark Melancon went off the market early on Monday, signing a four-year, $62 million deal with the division-rival Giants. That’s absurd money for a reliever, but it likely pales in comparison to what the top two players at that position—Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman—will get. The Rockies, of course, won’t be joining those sweepstakes, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get a helpful arm or two at a decent price.
Feliz, 28, is coming off of arguably his best season since winning the American League Rookie of the Year award in 2010, posting a 3.52 ERA but striking out 10.3 batters per nine innings for the Pirates. His command can still get a little hairy (3.5 BB/9), but he’s inching back to his pre-injury self in that regard. The Rockies could get a steal here by acquiring an arm with relatively few innings on it for a good price (MLB Trade Rumors recently predicted Feliz to the Rockies at three years and $18 million).
Ziegler at 37 is much older but is a proven, durable reliever who has been hell on right-handed hitters (career .559 OPS against) for many years. He finished strong in 2016 after a midseason trade from the Diamondbacks to the Red Sox, with whom he struck out more than a batter per inning and was an integral part of a postseason run. MLBTR predicted Ziegler as a two-year guy at $16 million total.
Throwing possibly more than $100 million at three players is not representative of what we’ve seen from the Rockies over the years, but after watching bullpen meltdown after bullpen meltdown combined with stretches of offensive ineptitude over the last two seasons spoil what should’ve been better results, perhaps the club will be more willing to address glaring areas of need—and pay the necessary price to do it.