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MLB Offseason 2017: Reviewing the Rockies arbitration eligible players

Charlie Blackmon, four other Rockies, may be headed to arbitration.

With the World Series concluding tonight, the MLB offseason is primed and ready to get started. To help you prepare for the Rockies upcoming moves and transactions we’ve already broken down the Rockies pending free agents and also the players under contract. Next up are the Rockies arbitration eligible players. These are players who have between three and six years of service time (some players with less than three may qualify under the Super-2 designation, but the Rockies don’t have any of those this offseason). These players are still under team control but there is some negotiation involved with their earnings.

Here are the five players eligible for arbitration this year with their current service time and MLB Trade Rumors arbitration projection.

Charlie Blackmon 5 years, 102 days — $13.4 million

Blackmon continued to prove all of his doubters wrong by putting up yet another career season. At this point, the projected $13.4 million is a steal. Blackmon will be a free agent next offseason, so it will be interesting to see if the Rockies choose to use this final arbitration process to instead sign him to an extension before he becomes a free agent.

Blackmon is a bit of a unique case in that most superstars hit free agency well before they turn 32. His age makes signing a long-term deal a bit riskier. However, he has already proven that the usual age guidelines don’t apply to him as he’s continue to improve at an age when most players have already plateaued or even started to decline.

DJ LeMahieu 5 years, 128 days — $8.8 million

Like Blackmon, LeMahieu will be going through his final arbitration process. Unfortunately, LeMahieu took a step back offensively this past offseason and 2016 is looking more like an anomaly than the new standard. However, his defense was as good as ever, as evidenced by his first Fielding Bible Award. He’s also a finalist for another Gold Glove.

With his pending free agency, it will be interesting to see what approach the Rockies take with LeMahieu’s negotiations. There is also a chance that the Rockies decide that they can get better value long-term by trading DJ before he becomes a free agent and let one of their young infielders like Ryan McMahon or Pat Valaika take over second base. The Rockies may also be looking for a place for top prospect Brendan Rodgers sometime next season.

Chad Bettis 3 years, 96 days — $1.5 million

Bettis was the best story of 2017. His recovery and rehabilitation from cancer was inspiring and with a full offseason of training to regain his strength he should be even better next year. This will Bettis’ first time going through arbitration and the expected salary is still ridiculously cheap for a pitcher that should be a mainstay in the Rockies rotation next season.

Chris Rusin 3 years, 92 days — $1.4 million

As one of the Rockies most reliable and successful relievers, it may seem odd that Rusin’s projected arbitration salary is lower than Chad Bettis who missed most of last season. Unfortunately for Rusin that’s the reality of being a reliever who isn’t a closer. Starting pitchers and closers tend to do well in arbitration, middle relievers on the other hand can struggle to be fairly compensated in arbitration. The Rockies will stand to benefit from this market inefficiency by keeping one of their best relievers on the cheap.

Zac Rosscup 3 years, 21 days — $600K

Acquired for Matt Carasiti, Rosscup only pitched seven innings for the Rockies. However, he was on the roster for long enough to earn arbitration eligibility. His performance wasn’t exemplary and it would be easy to argue that he may be non-tendered. Rosscup’s expected salary is barely above the big-league mininum which may keep him on the roster unless the Rockies decide they need his 40-man spot for a better reliever.

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Now, we wait for the final dollar figures for arbitration negotiations. The real news will be if the Rockies forgo negotiation with one of these players and instead opt for a longer-term deal, like they did with Nolan Arenado last year, whom they inked to a two-year deal.