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MLB Trade Deadline 2017: How the Rockies can go all in without going all in

The Rockies can get better without hurting the long-term outlook.

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Arizona Diamondbacks Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 Rockies are in a conundrum. As we approach the trade deadline and teams begin to buy and sell, the organization is in a position where they should be buying. They’re firmly in the Wild Card race and should bolster the roster to get over the finish line and compete in the postseason. Not all buyers are created equal though, and with the Rockies window essentially just opening in 2017, there is a sound argument that the club should be shrewd and only buy small to not compromise the youth coming up.

But, what if it wasn’t so black and white? The Rockies don’t have to choose between buying expensive starters or buying one mediocre reliever and calling it a day. Furthermore, the team can go all in without going all in. If that sounds confusing or like word vomit, then I’ve got you right where I want you. Anyway, here’s how.

Trading Mid-Level Prospects to Systems That Fit

Some pitchers in the Rockies system ultimately just don’t make sense for the Rockies. These are pitchers that are probably good but likely won’t succeed when it comes to pitching at Coors Field. These are guys like Sam Howard, Jack Wynkoop, maybe even Ryan Castellani. Pitchers that aren’t bad but certainly have enough holes to cause worry they could be exposed in the harsh environment of downtown Denver.

Other organizations may value these pitchers more than Colorado. An organization like Oakland or San Diego may see a prospect like Sam Howard at a higher level. This isn’t to say the Rockies could pile together Sam Howard and Harrison Musgrave for Sonny Gray or Wil Myers, but it is an argument the Rockies could use these players to buy a Khris Davis or a stable of bullpen arms without compromising anyone potentially crucial for extending the success of this window.

The best part about this is the Rockies have a lot of mid-level prospects, especially pitching-wise. Their young pitching depth isn’t just useful in a year they need it to cover injuries to veterans. It sets their foundation to not need a ton of mid-level rotation help moving forward. Trading from a position of depth for a position of need is like, chapter one in the Good and Not Bad Trades handbook.

Picking Players That Fit One Need

The Rockies are a contender with a few holes. Their offense is mediocre, the bullpen has trouble in middle relief, and their rotation is young and can struggle for a full turn. But the Rockies are in an unusual position in that fixing the holes isn’t as easy as it is for some other teams. The Nationals need a closer and can trade for a closer; the Yankees need an everyday bat and can make a trade to make it happen. But the Rockies’ problems aren’t as simple.

Take the offense. The Rockies don’t exactly have guys that just “aren’t working out” in the lineup. This means any struggling corner outfielders aren’t guys you can send to the minors or release when you trade for upgraded replacements, which makes it more difficult when looking to acquire a bat. From an everyday lineup standpoint, the Rockies really only have flexibility at shortstop. After that, you’re squeezing limited time into smaller boxes.

This can be helped though. Instead of picking all around players that would best fit as every day starters, the Rockies can shop for players that fit one role or need. Khris Davis, mentioned above, fits a role as a power hitting bench bat perfectly. Davis strikes out a lot, but he hits almost exclusively for power. The Rockies could fit him in with their current corner outfielders, who have decided to not hit for power at all, and create a bit of a lethal combination. Kind of like Voltron.

When there is no “one piece” that can fill the voids, the best plan is to mash a bunch of misshapen pieces together until something turns up that looks good enough. That’s how I fix things in my house—that’s how the Rockies can attempt to fix their offense.

The idea is that the Rockies aren’t in a typical situation, so the solution shouldn’t be typical.

Acquiring Rentals

I know, I know, I know.

Rentals are almost always the most risky moves for any team buying at the deadline. But the Rockies are in a position where their window is solidified even if they spend a little bit on some temporary labor.

Look, next year the available playing time gets even tighter. Ian Desmond and Gerardo Parra are under contract, Dahl should be back, and guys like Ryan McMahon and Brendan Rodgers (maybe) will start to knock on the door. This means anyone the Rockies acquire should probably not be someone the team can’t easily move on from. Rentals are the easiest to move on from—it’s a fling.

Here are some intriguing rentals the Rockies could acquire that would possibly fit the above two criterion:

Zack Cozart

Todd Frazier

Jose Bautista

Seth Smith

Juan Nicasio

And several more!

Wow! What a fun crop of guys! Obviously some are going to be more expensive than others (Cozart just got named to the All-Star Game) but they all would be some nice headline grabbers that would certainly help the 2017 team make it’s run.

The cautious optimist in all of us wants the Rockies to slow play 2017. It’s the beginning of a window on a talented roster, after all. But you’re not guaranteed anything in baseball, and 2018 could begin with a devastating injury or a slump from several young players. More chances aren’t guaranteed, so it would behoove the Rockies to take the ones you have. Reinforcing 2017’s chances gives fans something to cheer for, the players already in the clubhouse something to play for, and hey, a little side effect may just be that it gets a little easier to negotiate an extension with Nolan Arenado. The benefits start to outweigh the risks.

The Rockies can go big without going big. They should go all in (without going all in).