The Colorado Rockies wake up in first place again this morning and may have an interesting opportunity to improve their team. The Texas Rangers designated Sam Dyson for assignment. According to Ken Rosenthal, the Rangers’ plans are to try and trade him—there is no chance he would clear waivers—and they have received interest from more than one team.
At this point there is no clear indication which team may be interested, though it’s easy to imagine that the Nationals would be with their desperate need to improve their bullpen. Depending on the price, it’s easy to imagine a bunch of other teams expressing interest as well. Despite the Rockies’ current bullpen depth, it’s worth thinking about whether or not the Rockies should be one of those teams.
Unlike the Nationals, the Rockies don’t need someone for the high-leverage situations. Instead they would be looking to add someone else to bolster the middle of the ‘pen. This may mean that the Rockies won’t pay as high of a price for a particular reliever as a team that is more desperate to fix their bullpen. However, it could also mean that they would be more willing to trade for someone whose struggles suggest a better fit into lower-leverage situations, like Dyson.
While the situations are different, the Rockies already gambled once on a reliever for this season’s bullpen when other teams were more hesitant. The Greg Holland signing has already paid off in an amazing way and may make the Rockies more likely to gamble again.
Coming into this season, Dyson was seen as a dominant reliever who excelled by using an outstanding sinker instead of racking up strikeouts. From 2014 to 2016, Dyson appeared in 179 games for the Marlins and Rangers with a 2.45 ERA and 61 ERA-. That latter number means he was 39 percent better than league average. During that same time, he struck out 7.6 batters per nine inning and walked 2.8.
After being acquired midseason by the Rangers in 2015, Dyson became their closer last season and saved 38 games for them during their playoff run. Dyson was also an essential part of Team USA during their championship run in the World Baseball Classic this spring. He appeared in five game and did not surrender a base runner over six innings of work.
Unfortunately for Dyson, he’s been unable to duplicate those results this year. Before being designated for assignment, Dyson had pitched 162⁄3 innings in 17 appearances for the Rangers this season. He’s surrendered 31 hits and 12 walks in those innings while striking out only seven. Whether it was the early ramp up for the WBC or something else, Dyson has just not been the same pitcher this season.
The question for the Rockies, or any other team interested in trading for Dyson, is whether or not they can get Dyson back to his prime form. If they can, trading for him could be a coup as Dyson still has three years of team control available after 2017. He is currently owed $2.35 million for the rest of this season after being eligible for arbitration this past offseason as a Super-2. If a team kept him out of a closer role and from accumulating saves, his poor start to this year could help reduce any future arbitration earnings as well.
Any team acquiring Dyson would have to have complete confidence in their coaching staff to be able to fix him. The Rockies current brain trust of Bud Black, Steve Foster, Darren Holmes and Darryl Scott may be the perfect fit for a struggling reliever.
Overall, I think the Rockies should be pursuing Dyson if their scouts feel like he is salvageable. The real question would be the cost. If a bunch of teams get in a bidding war, the Rockies are in a solid enough position to let someone else overpay and wait for the next opportunity when there will be one less competitor. However, if the Rockies can acquire Dyson for the prospect cost of someone like Brian Mundell and one of the Rockies own stash of minor-league relievers, they should go for it.