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Rockies offseason: Justin Smoak, Daniel Murphy emerge as possible offensive upgrades

Rockies news and links for December 15, 2018

Rox shift 1B/2B search to short term options |

The Rockies were rumored to be targeting either Carlos Santana or Edwin Encarnación to play first base. Weirdly, those two players were traded for one another on Thursday. It takes Santana off the board, although it shouldn’t surprise anybody if Jerry Dipoto decides to trade Encarnación, even though the Mariners just acquired him. If so, that would be the first time he did that since he traded Carlos Santana for Edwin Encarnación.

Anyway, the Rockies seem to be moving away from those guys and looking at other possibilities. Thomas Harding reports that the Rockies are now eyeing a handful of guys to upgrade the offense: Daniel Murphy, Logan Morrison, Neil Walker, and Justin Smoak.

Those are some names. Let’s rank them from least to most desirable:

Logan Morrison

The man had a .276 on-base percentage last year! He’s also had just one good season, and it really may have been a fluke, in 2017. Pass.

Neil Walker

Walker would be last if he were signed to play first base (hard, hard pass), but I’m not sure he would provide much of an offensive boost at second base either. Walker had the worst season of his career in 2017, with a 79 OPS+. And second basemen don’t usually have graceful declines, so that bad season should give any team pause.

Daniel Murphy

Murphy, who will be 34 by the time spring training rolls around, posted a 105 OPS+ split between the Nationals and Cubs in 2017. That was a step back from his outstanding 2016 and 2017 campaigns. Still, the note about second basemen and ungraceful declines apply here as well. It would make more sense to play the younger and more athletic Rya McMahon at second base and Murphy at first, but I don’t think any Rockies fan wants to see another middle infielder signed to play first.

Justin Smoak

Justin Smoak, who used to be really bad, has had a couple of good seasons in Toronto — OPS+’s of 131 and 123. The worry with Smoak is that it really wasn’t that long ago when he was not a good hitter at all. Smoak is firmly a first baseman, so he would allow Ryan McMahon handle second base with Garrett Hampson.

Of the four names Harding floats, Smoak is probably the most desirable, even if he doesn’t inspire that much confidence. But that’s just what I think.

Rockies use winter meetings to window shop |

The winter meetings ain’t what they used to be. For the Rockies, as well as for most other teams, it was probably just a space to continue conversation without any urgency to execute any transactions. Harding notes that the Rockies still have areas where they’d like to improve: Offense, bullpen, and catcher. If nothing happens over the next week or so, then those question marks will probably carry over into January.

Rockies depart winter meetings still searching for an upgrade on offense | Denver Post ($)

Patrick Saunders offers his perspective about the Rockies needs. He also notes that the Rockies re-acquired catcher Chris Rabago for cash from the Royals after the Royals selected him in the Rule 5 draft from the Yankees.

Feces, cockroaches and mold: Denver venues have some of the worst food-safety violations in pro sports, new report says | Denver Post ($)

ESPN investigated food safety inspection reports from sports venues across the country. Food consumption is as much a part of the live sports ritual as watching the game itself, and people deserve access to this information. This is journalism in service of the public. The full report can be found here. The Denver venues faired poorly, as all three professional sports venues in Denver ranked “among the worst in the U.S. for food-safety violations at professional sports stadiums and arenas.”

Also: Ew.