It has begun.
The same type of trade rumors that swirled around the Colorado Rockies during the middle months of last season appear to have returned in 2016. This time, talks involve outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, who in a recent meeting with Rockies brass, "expressed an interest" in being traded, according to Jon Heyman of Today's Knuckleball.
UPDATE (2:56 p.m. MT): Heyman has amended his report, now saying that there was no recent meeting between CarGo and Rockies higher-ups. How much of this is actually true, then? This has officially become more about Heyman than it is about CarGo...
SB Nation's Chris Cotillo concurs.
Gonzalez, reportedly frustrated about the Rockies' continued struggles, could be placed on the trade block along with teammate Charlie Blackmon, Heyman adds. It's unclear if the Rockies will shop both players prior to the August 1 trade deadline or wait until the offseason.
This news means one of two things.
One scenario is that the Rockies will find themselves in a position to sell, at which point they could flip Gonzalez and Blackmon -- owners of a 124 and 112 OPS+, respectively -- for assets that could help the team in a future contention window. Prospects such as David Dahl and Raimel Tapia could be a year or less away from making an impact in the majors, and other developments within the organization suggest that the Rockies' best chance of competing in the National League West will come in 2017 and beyond.
Another is that Colorado -- as Heyman wrote -- has shown improvement this season and despite struggling badly over the last week and a half, will likely enter the All-Star break fewer than 10 games out of a Wild Card spot. With key contributors set to return all over the diamond, it might be too early to fold their 2016 hand altogether -- especially if the team uses some of its impressive prospect depth to make a few moves that could improve its chances of competing this year.
Ultimately, the Rockies have a ton of holes to fill; their bench has regressed badly and even with positive strides being made, more impact arms are needed in the rotation and bullpen. The question is, if they don't decide to mortgage the future to gain a few games in the standings this year, can they convince CarGo, Nolan Arenado and others that a winner will be put into place starting next season, the final year of Gonzalez's contract?
Jeff Bridich has a tough decision to make. Let's hope it's the right one.