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Can the Rockies afford to keep Nolan Arenado?

Rockies news and links for December 26, 2017

Colorado Rockies: Could Manny Machado be an omen for Nolan Arenado | Rox Pile
Kevin Henry raises a question that demands some discussion. Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado has been a surprising name flying around the rumor mill this offseason. The talented staple at the hot corner for the O’s is set to be a free agent after the 2018 season, and the general expectation is that Baltimore will not have the financial resources available to sign Machado to the record-setting deal that he will likely seek.

The Colorado Rockies could be facing a similar situation soon with their own superstar third baseman. Nolan Arenado will be a free agent after the 2019 season, and the Rockies will be facing a decision. While the Orioles and Rockies are both not big-market spenders, I do believe that the Rox under the Jeff Bridich regime are at least more willing to spend than the Orioles under their general manager Dan Duquette. In my estimation, looking ahead I believe Arenado is less likely to see free agency than Machado. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Arenado in Denver will be a given or even likely.

Like many Rockies fans, I would like to see Arenado play for Colorado for the rest of his career. When arranging Arenado’s salary to avoid arbitration prior to the 2019 season, it would be ideal to see a long-term contract worked out before he tests the waters of free agency. Nolan has expressed a desire to remain with a “consistent winner,” so the Rockies will have to put effort forth to make Coors Field an environment that he will want to stay in for an extended period. This isn’t just the financial offerings, but an investment in making the team competitive for years to come.

The good news is that the Rockies are in better shape than many clubs to do just that. Two other names joining Machado in the 2018-2019 free agent class are our own Charlie Blackmon and DJ LeMahieu. Even with these two names gone, I don’t think it takes a significant hit to the Rockies’ ability to be a contender in 2019 like losing Machado will for the Orioles. Compared to the O’s, the Rockies will have a more-established major league pitching staff for the next few years, and, in my view, currently have a superior farm system. Thus, financial factors aside, I believe the Rockies will be able to provide Arenado with what he is looking for. Will they be able to pay Nolan what he desires and deserves? Well, I’m certainly hoping so.

Clear and present: 30 teams, 30 gifts |
Anthony Castrovince at gave 30 gifts to all 30 teams for Christmas. The Rockies received Greg Holland as their gift for 2018. The McGee and Shaw signings are still representing delightful gifts for me. There remains potential for additions to the team in terms of position players and even starting pitching, but Holland stands out to me as just as good of a present as any for the Rockies.

Colorado Rockies 2018 Pitching Situation: The Starters | Rox Pile
Speaking of the starting rotation, with Jon Gray, Chad Bettis, Tyler Anderson, German Marquez, Kyle Freeland, Antonio Senzatela, and Jeff Hoffman all on the 40-man roster, I’m sure glad I’m not the one that must make the final decision. I trust the coaching staff of the Rockies to put together the best starting five based on their own list of qualifications. The first five I mentioned are probably the most logical choices at this stage of the offseason.

As much as I fell in love with his story and am rooting for Bettis to succeed, I think it is necessary to address the fact that his on-field performance left a bit to be desired in 2017. While his 5.05 ERA and 1.55 HR/9 rate was likely compounded by a 16% HR/FB ratio (compared to a career average of 13.2%), Bettis’ 4.88 FIP and 4.56 xFIP numbers were both a good margin worse than his 2015-2016 numbers. Granted this was a 46.1 IP sample compared to 301 very solid innings across the two prior seasons, but I think it is very important to see better results from Bettis if the Rockies want to take another step forward in 2018.