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Which non-tenders could be a fit on the Rockies?

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Rockies news and links for December 1, 2018

Friday at 6 PM MT was the deadline for teams to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players. The Colorado Rockies tendered contracts to all eight of their arbitration-eligible players.

  • Chris RusinThe Rockies and Rusin settled on a one-year, $1,687,500 contract in the 32-year-old’s second trip through the arbitration process. The deal was first announced by the Rockies, with Jon Heyman of Fancred first mentioning the amount of money in the deal. MLB Trade Rumors had projected Rusin to earn $1.7 million in 2019. Rusin will be looking for a return to form in 2019. He pitched 54 23 innings of 6.09 ERA ball in 2018 after posting a career high 4.28 walks per nine innings. His 33.1% hard-hit percentage allowed was also his worst mark since he joined the Rockies. However, Rusin was more productive in the season’s second half when he posted a 5.87 ERA, with a more optimistic 2.70 FIP and a significantly improved ground-ball rate. If Rusin can return to anything like his 2017 form (2.65 ERA in 85 innings), he would be a boon to a Rockies’ bullpen that will be relying on several veterans to have bounce-back campaigns. Hayden Kane reviewed Rusin’s 2018 season back in October.

Rusin’s contract was the only one in which financial information was revealed.

  • Nolan ArenadoArenado is projected to earn a 2019 salary of $26.1 million, which would be a record for an arbitration-eligible player. This is Arenado’s final trip through arbitration before he becomes a free agent unless he and the Rockies can come to an agreement on an extension. Sam Bradfield reviewed Arenado’s 2018 season in November.
  • Trevor StoryStory cemented himself as one of baseball’s elite shortstops in 2018 and is projected to receive $6.4 million in his first crack at arbitration. Eric Garcia McKinley reviewed Story’s 2018 season in November.
  • Chad BettisIn his second trip through arbitration, Bettis is projected to earn $3.2 million. After beginning 2018 as a member of the Rockies’ starting rotation and pitching quite well over his first few starts, Bettis soon began to struggle and was moved to the bullpen. The Rox will be giving Bettis an opportunity to produce improved results in 2019. Hayden Kane reviewed Bettis’ 2018 season early in November.
  • Jon GrayGray is projected to receive $3.2 million in his first year of arbitration. 2018 was a very polarizing season for Gray, who will be looking to bounce back from a 5.12 ERA/4.08 FIP performance. Renee Dechert reviewed Gray’s 2018 season early in November.
  • Tyler AndersonAnderson will also experience his first trip through the arbitration process in 2019, with a projected salary of $2.9 million. Anderson had an up-and-down 2018 season, but with park adjustments was able to finish the season with a 3.0 bWAR. Renee Dechert reviewed Anderson’s 2018 season early in November.
  • Scott ObergAlso seeing arbitration for the first time, Oberg is projected to make $1.2 million in 2019. Oberg got off to a rough start in 2018 and was sent to Triple-A on April 23. After he was recalled on May 29, he became easily one of the best relievers on the Rox, helping to make up for disappointing performances from more expensive bullpen arms. Oberg pitched to an otherworldly 1.51 ERA over his final 47 23 innings of the year. Connor Farrell reviewed Oberg’s 2018 season in November.
  • Tony WoltersFinally, Wolters is projected to earn $1.1 million in his first trip through arbitration. While producing a wRC+ less than 50 from 2017-2018, Wolters is easily the best defensive catcher on the current iteration of the Rockies’ roster. Hayden Kane reviewed Wolters’ 2018 season back in October.

Tendered players and their team must exchange proposed salary figures for the upcoming season by January 11. Arbitration hearings will be held throughout the month of February for players and teams who cannot reach an agreement on a contract. Here is a link to all arbitration salary predictions from MLB Trade Rumors.

On Friday, the Rockies also elected to non-tender Sam Howard, who was not eligible for arbitration, but was on the 40-man roster. Howard ranked 11th in the latest round of PuRPs voting. The 6’3” left-hander, who will turn 26 in March, briefly made his MLB debut in 2018, only accumulating four innings of work. In Triple-A, Howard struggled to a 5.06 ERA in 96 innings, but it largely didn’t change the perception of his capabilities— except, perhaps, for the Rockies’ front office who will look to move in a different direction.

A number of players from other teams were also not tendered contracts on Friday. Some cases were surprising, as they were players who had produced productive efforts in 2018. Here’s a look at some notable names (in alphabetical order) and whether or not they could be fits for the Rockies:

  • Luis AvilánAvilán split time with the Chicago White Sox and Philadelphia Phillies in 2018 and had a solid campaign, with a 3.77 ERA/3.09 FIP combination over the course of 45 13 innings. The 29-year-old left hander shouldn’t have a difficult time finding a new home. Perhaps the Rockies would be interested in this fairly inexpensive bullpen piece.
  • Tim Beckham Beckham posted monstrous offensive numbers for the Orioles after being traded to Baltimore in 2017. It was looking as though the first overall pick from 2008 might have finally found a way to translate his pedigree into big league games. Unfortunately, the 2018 season was a significant disappointment for the soon-to-be 29-year-old infielder, as he slashed only .230/.287/.374. It’s difficult to see Beckham being signed as an everyday player at this juncture.
  • Justin Bour Last winter, the idea of Bour being non-tendered would have been very surprising. But after the Miami Marlins traded the first baseman to the Phillies in August of 2018, Bour’s power vanished. Overall, however, Bour finished the season with a batting line of .227/.341/.404, which was reflective of a 107 wRC+. Rockies’ first baseman finished dead last in the Majors with a wRC+ of 69 (nice) in 2018, so it certainly might be worth seeing what Bour, 30, has to offer.
  • Brad Boxberger After being traded from the Tampa Bay Rays to the Arizona Diamondbacks last offseason, Boxberger, 30, got off to a good start with the Snakes, serving as the team’s closer and pitching to a 3.06 ERA with 24 saves in the season’s first half. The post-All-Star break numbers were disastrous to say the least and as the Diamondbacks fell off the map, so did their closer. Boxberger collected an ERA of 7.00 in the second half, to go along with four blown saves. As with Beckham, it would be best for a non-contending team to take a chance on this rebound candidate.
  • Xavier CedeñoCedeño has been a very productive reliever in his career— when healthy. After settling for a minor-league deal with the White Sox last offseason, Cedeño proved both healthy and effective and was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers at the non-waiver trade deadline in August. Overall, the 32-year-old lefty delivered 33 13 innings of 2.43 ERA ball. Like Avilán, it might be wise for the Rox to explore the market on this intriguing bullpen arm.
  • Matt DavidsonPower is the only tool that Davidson possesses, but there is a lot of it in this right-handed bat— especially against left-handed pitching. While the overall slash of .228/.319/.419 from 2018 may not look impressive, Davidson has a career 118 wRC+ against lefties. In 2018, that number was even better at 144. Davidson has plenty of experience at the infield corners, but the soon-to-be 28-year-old is best utilized as a designated hitter and only against left-handers.
  • Mike FiersDespite allowing 32 home runs, Fiers was able to pitch to a 3.56 ERA for the Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics in 2018. The Rockies don’t have a particular need for a starting pitcher unless it’s a significant upgrade. Fiers, 33, likely isn’t that.
  • Wilmer Flores Flores was let go by the New York Mets (for real this time). He has experience playing all four infield positions, though none particularly well. Flores also possess some power and has a 110 wRC+ against left-handed pitching. The Rockies could potentially use the 27-year-old in the role that they would have liked Pat Valaika to play in 2018.
  • Avisail García The White Sox likely had high expectations for García after he slashed .330/.380/.506 with a 4.6 bWAR in a breakout 2017 campaign. Unfortunately, the 2018 line was cut to .236/.281/.438, despite hitting one more home run than the previous season in fewer plate appearances. Some of García’s trouble can likely be traced to knee issues, which the 27-year-old underwent arthroscopic surgery for on October 2nd. While the Rockies could use a right-handed outfield bat, it might be wise to spend the extra dollars on a more proven bat.
  • Robbie Grossman Grossman is a corner outfielder, but is best used as a designated hitter, as his minus-26 Defensive Runs Saved will alert you to. Grossman, 29, was a very productive hitter in his three-year stint with the Minnesota Twins, hitting .266/.371/.400. With the Twins, the left-handed batter was actually better against lefty pitching (.859 OPS) but can put up a solid on-base percentage against whomever he happens to be facing. With the addition of C.J. Cron, the Twins no longer had a use for Grossman’s services. Could their loss be a gain for a team like the Rockies?
  • Billy HamiltonHamilton was one of the bigger names non-tendered on Friday. Hamilton truly isn’t much of a hitter, unless...

Well, anyway — few possess the elite defensive and base running combination that the 28- year-old brings to the table. Hamilton could be a great fit as a fourth outfielder for the Rox.

  • Gorkys Hernández Jeff Bridich, if you’re reading this, spare no expense! Bring Gorkys Hernández aboard! The Rockies can’t risk facing him for even one more plate appearance ever again! Coming into the 2018 season, Hernández had hit five total career home runs. In 2018, he hit SEVEN — all against the Rockies! Last year was the first time in which the 31-year-old Hernández received regular playing time, and he produced an 83 wRC+ with 15 home runs overall. Against the Rockies, that wRC+ ballooned to 137— and it didn’t matter if it was at home with the San Francisco Giants or at Coors Field. He absolutely crushed Rockies’ pitching. In all reality, Hernández might make sense on a minor-league deal. There are no bad minor-league deals, after all. If not, the further away from Colorado that Hernández can go, the better.
  • Chris Herrmann Rockies fans will remember Herrmann (an interesting catcher/outfielder hybrid) from his time with the D-Backs. That’s where he produced the best year of his career in 2016— a .284/.352/.493 slash over the life of 166 plate appearances. Herrmann’s wRC+ collapsed to 58 in 2017 and he signed with the Seattle Mariners last offseason. With the M’s, Herrmann, 31, had a solid 107 wRC+ in 87 plate appearances. Despite being claimed off waivers by the Houston Astros in early November, the club obviously did not see a fit with Herrmann for the coming season. He could make for an interesting piece of catching depth for the Rockies.
  • Dan Jennings Jennings, 31, was a productive left-handed reliever out of Milwaukee’s bullpen in 2018, with a 3.22 ERA/4.09 FIP combination in 64 13 innings pitched. He fits the same mold as Avilán and Cedeño.
  • Caleb Joseph Joseph had been a member of the Orioles ever since he was drafted in 2008. He has never drifted far above or below his career 68 wRC+ but has rated as a positive contributor on defense behind the plate. However, it would be tough to see the 32-year-old backstop providing more value than in-house options Tony Wolters or Chris Iannetta.
  • James McCannLike Joseph, McCann is a catcher who has only known one organization. McCann, 28, was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 2011, and has offensive numbers that rate as only slightly better than Joseph, thanks to a propensity to hit for more power, but the career wRC+ is still only 75. While McCann has rated out well defensively in his career, the Rockies should be looking to bigger names if they’re thinking about upgrading the catching position.
  • Shelby Miller Unfortunately for the Rockies, it appears that the disastrous marriage between Miller and the D-backs has come to a close. It was rare for Miller to be healthy with the Snakes and even rarer for him to be an effective pitcher. Even if the Atlanta Braves experienced down years from Ender Inciarte and Dansby Swanson in 2018, they are still the exponential winners of this trade. Miller, 28, looks to finish his D-backs career with an ERA of 6.35 across three seasons of only 139 total innings pitched.
  • Chris OwingsThe D-backs will also be moving on from Owings, who was drafted by the organization in 2009. Owings has shown flashes of offensive ability in the past, but the 73 career wRC+ is what has come to be expected of the 27-year-old.
  • Blake ParkerParker is one of the more intriguing non-tenders from Friday. The 33-year-old was very effective with the Los Angeles Angels over the past two seasons, pitching to a 2.90 ERA and at times serving as the team’s closer. Perhaps the Halos were wary of Parker’s 4.40 FIP from 2018, which largely stemmed from allowing 12 home runs in 66 13 innings, though an above-average home run-to-fly ball ratio may indicate bad luck was in play. Parker should draw plenty of interest on the open market and could be an interesting player for the Rockies to take a gander at.
  • Jordan Patterson You may remember Patterson from such organizations as the Colorado Rockies. When 40-man rosters were set ahead of this offseason’s Rule 5 draft, the Rockies designated Patterson for assignment. He ended up being claimed by the Mets, then placed on waivers and claimed again by the Cincinnati Reds, before the Reds non-tendered him on Friday. Patterson, 27 in February, still ranks 15th in the latest PuRPs rankings. There would certainly be plenty of upside if the Rockies have interest in re-signing Patterson on a minor-league contract.
  • Jonathan Schoop Schoop was never able to get things going in 2018 with the Orioles and was even worse after being traded to the Brewers at the trade deadline. Collectively, the second baseman slashed .233/.266/.416— a far cry from a breakout 2017 performance that saw Schoop hit .293 with 32 long balls. Schoop is only 27 years old, so there could be reason to believe that a revival is possible. With DJ LeMahieu’s departure into the world of free agency, the Rockies find themselves with a vacancy at second base heading into the 2019 season. If the team is not comfortable handing the reins over to Ryan McMahon, Garrett Hampson or Brendan Rodgers, Schoop could be a possibility.
  • Matt ShoemakerFitting right in with other starting pitchers on the Angels, Shoemaker has had a difficult time staying healthy. Shoemaker produced excellent campaigns in 2014 and 2016, appearing to be on the cusp of becoming one of the game’s best starting pitchers both times. Unfortunately, Shoemaker is now 32 and injuries may have derailed what could have been an outstanding career. Again, there are no bad minor-league deals if the Rockies have an interest in this neighborhood.
  • Yangervis SolarteThe Rockies witnessed Solarte’s most valuable season in 2016 with the San Diego Padres, but the 31-year-old infielder’s numbers have been on the decline since. In 2018 with the Toronto Blue Jays, Solarte only slashed .226/.277/.378. As with Beckham, it would be difficult to envision Solarte signing with the intention of an immediate full-time role.
  • Bubba Starling Starling has never played in the Major Leagues, but was the first round pick of the Kansas City Royals in 2011. Still just 26, Starling hasn’t had a full productive minor league season since 2015 and injuries have further inhibited his development in recent years. But to reiterate, there are no bad minor-league deals.
  • Hunter Strickland Strickland had the worst year of his career with the Giants in 2018 but seeing the 30-year-old be non-tendered was still surprising. In 2018, Strickland pitched to a 3.97 ERA/4.42 FIP combination, which the Giants were evidently not comfortable with seeing again in 2019. Strickland saw his average fastball velocity drop to a career-low in 2018, and his strikeout numbers saw a concurrent decline. Strickland also struggled with a walk rate of 4.17 per nine innings and saw his hard-hit percentage allowed reach an alarming 42.3%— by far the worst of his career. If all those numbers weren’t bad enough to deter you, signing Strickland would also almost assuredly remove a team from the Bryce Harper sweepstakes.
  • Ronald TorreyesTorreyes was traded from the New York Yankees to the Chicago Cubs on November 28, but his time in the windy city was not meant to last long, as the 26-year-old was non-tendered on Friday. Torreyes has ranked as an average to slightly below average defender at second base, third base and shortstop in sporadic playing time with the Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers since 2015 and has a career 82 wRC+. He will likely find a role as infield depth.
  • Alex Wilson Wilson pitched to a 3.36 ERA/4.28 FIP combination with the Tigers over 61 23 innings in 2018. The 32-year-old has a career 3.23 ERA with a 44.8% ground-ball rate and 2.27 walks per nine innings that make up for his 5.98 career strikeouts per nine innings. The low walk rate would play well at Coors Field, but Wilson has also seen an increase in home runs allowed over the past two seasons.

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Rockies news and links for December 1, 2018

JAWS and the 2019 Hall of Fame Ballot: Larry Walker | FanGraphs
We’ve been hearing and talking a lot about Rockies’ legend Todd Helton in his first year on the Hall of Fame ballot. Purple Row’s managing editor Eric Garcia McKinley had an excellent write-up on Helton’s case yesterday.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still be campaigning for Larry Walker though! At FanGraphs, Jay Jaffe has an extensive breakdown of Walker’s life (born to Larry Sr. and Mary and sibling to Barry, Carey and Gary), career and where he stands in the chase for the Hall. Walker only has two years remaining on the ballot and it won’t be an easy path to election, but he does rank slightly above the average Hall of Fame right fielder in JAWS, even when accounting for injuries and alleged Coors Field inflation.

Three teams would fit best for McCutchen | MLB.com
Mike Petriello of MLB.com dissects the teams that would be the best fit for free agent Andrew McCutchen. One such team is the Rockies, who could certainly use more offense and could certainly stand to see that upgrade come from a right-handed outfield bat. Other teams in the “Top 5” include the Braves, Astros, Rays and Cleveland Indians.

Colorado Rockies: They may be able to get rid of some bad contracts in a trade for Syndergaard | Rox Pile
Rox Pile’s Noah Yingling wonders if the Rockies could really be able to unload some of their “bad contracts,” particularly in a deal with the Mets that would net Noah Syndergaard in return. Thomas Harding of MLB.com suggested a few days ago that Ian Desmond and Bryan Shaw could be part of a deal with the Amazins, but obviously there would need to be MLB-ready (or near MLB-ready) young talent being shipped away as well. Yingling speculates McMahon, Hampson, Peter Lambert, Raimel Tapia, Tom Murphy, Jeff Hoffman or Josh Fuentes as possibilities, with Rodgers being reportedly “untouchable.”