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Free agency options still available to the Rockies

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Rockies news and links for February 13, 2018

The Rockies Ought to Consider Becoming a Mystery Team | FanGraphs
Baseball is back! Pitchers and catchers for some clubs reported to Spring Training on Monday and Tuesday, while the Rockies will see their batteries arrive in Arizona on Wednesday. While this is normally a time for the winter’s free agents to get accustomed to their new teammates, there are still several options of the 2017-18 free agent class still available. JD Martinez, Eric Hosmer, Jake Arrieta, Mike Moustakas, Lance Lynn, Greg Holland, Alex Cobb, Logan Morrison, Jonathan Lucroy, Carlos Gonzalez, and a slew of others remain without a team. Aside from Lynn, Cobb, Morrison, and Lucroy, all these players are represented by agent Scott Boras, so draw what conclusions you will from that piece of information.

It’s not as though the Rockies haven’t spent money this winter. After the Cubs (who have spent largely on starting pitchers Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood), the Rockies have handed out the most dough to players this winter. Relievers Wade Davis, Bryan Shaw, and Jake McGee represent the biggest expenditures by the Rockies’ front office. In terms of offense, names that have speculatively floated around the Rox at various points this offseason have included Gonzalez, Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier, and Mark Reynolds. Bruce and Frazier have both gone on to sign with the Mets, while CarGo and Reynolds remain free agents. We have not seen the Rockies connected to the biggest position player names—Martinez and Hosmer. At FanGraphs, Travis Sawchik recommends that the Rox continue their offseason of spending by making a run at these top-tier free agents as well.

Much has been made about the Rockies’ lack of offensive production from a season ago, and first base and both corner outfield spots remain areas of concern, as Sawchik details. Personally, I think Ryan McMahon and David Dahl are ready to succeed at these positions in 2018. Ian Desmond is also primed to have a better campaign than his inaugural season in Denver.

That said, McMahon and Dahl are not established MLB players, even though they may have ceilings that exceed the roof. And even better production from Desmond would pale in comparison to the level of production a player like Martinez has established for himself. In his case for the Rockies adding Martinez, Sawchik references an article from a certain Jordan Freemyer, as well as providing additional information about Martinez’s offensive profile.

Boras is seeking an exorbitant contract for Martinez, who, despite the offensive accolades, profiles as one of the worst defensive outfielders in the game and comes with a recent a history of injuries. On the other hand, when healthy, Martinez provides elite offense that few others in the game are capable of. He finished 2nd in “barrels” per plate appearance twice in the past three seasons. With an incredible .303/.376/.690 slash in 2017 over 489 plate appearances, he compiled 3.8 fWAR despite his defensive struggles. Tack on 200 plate appearances, and we could easily be talking a 5-WAR campaign. There is no doubt that a healthy Martinez would be a boon to the Rockies offense in 2018 and make up for any defensive deficiencies he may have.

Hosmer, on the other hand, is more difficult for me to have confidence in. Hosmer has had three seasons with 3 or more fWAR, and each has been followed up by a season of 0.0 fWAR or less. After a career-high 4.1 fWAR in 2017, the trend would not favor a successful 2018. The Steamer projection system does forecast a 122 wRC+ and 2.6 WAR for Hosmer in 2018, which (if he is able to achieve it) would not be an insignificant upgrade from the production of Desmond. A nine-figure, nine-year deal that Boras is seemingly seeking for his client, though? That would be a financial stretch for the Rockies, and perhaps not a worthwhile one if Hosmer’s track record is considered. First baseman Logan Morrison (drafted 666th overall in 2005, so that’s metal), who broke out with 38 home runs in 2017, would represent a much more cost-effective upgrade at the position.

In summary, both Martinez and Hosmer have not been connected to the Rockies this offseason, which is not unusual for players seeking out average annual values of $25 million or greater. If the Rockies want to push themselves over the top in 2018, though, it may be wise to consider opening the checkbooks just a little more.

Rockpile Talkpile Cuddy.0 |
If you’re looking for a Rockies podcast to listen to, it’s the Rockpile Talkpile—a podcast from the Official Subreddit of the Colorado Rockies! The Talkpile is not affiliated with this Rockpile, but it is now partnered with FanSided’s Rox Pile. Zach, John, Jason, and Alex have a lot of good information about what Wade Davis adds to a Rockies “super bullpen” in 2018, and provide excellent definitions of advanced metrics such as FIP, xFIP, and WPA for evaluating pitchers. They also discuss the probability (or rather improbability) of signing Martinez, and PECOTA’s disappointing projections for the Rockies’ 2018 season.

Cold Takes: What PECOTA Got Wrong | Baseball Prospectus
Of course, PECOTA is by no means perfect. The projection system forecasted 1.5 WARP (Baseball Prospectus’ version of WAR) for Charlie Blackmon in 2017. Blackmon handily outpaced that projection by a whopping 6.4 wins. Despite this, Chuck Nazty is again projected for a lower number in 2018, coming in with a 2.1 WARP prognostication. With Nolan Arenado projected to accrue only 3.5 WARP in 2018, I think it’s safe to say PECOTA might need some fine-tuning for projecting the Rockies.

Colorado Rockies: Taking a look at Bleacher Report’s 2018 predictions | Rox Pile
A more optimistic picture of the Rockies in 2018 is painted by Bleacher Report’s prediction of a 91-71 record for the team. This would be good for second place in the National League West, after the 99-63 Los Angeles Dodgers, and ahead of the 89-73 Arizona Diamondbacks. The Rockies and Diamondbacks would both be the National League Wild Card teams, according to Bleacher Report’s expectations. I personally see the Rockies as an 88-win team as thing stand today, which I still think would be good enough to make the postseason. I also think the San Francisco Giants may provide more competition for second place in the West than the Diamondbacks will. Feel free to speculate on your win-loss projections for the Rockies and other teams in the comments section below!

Colorado Rockies and a look at the National League West | Rox Pile
Rox Pile’s Christian Espinoza provides a detailed look at each team in the National League West, with their additions and subtractions from 2017 to now.

Rox camp already abuzz over young arms |
A young starting rotation provided success for Colorado in 2017, and an exciting season is ahead for these hurlers in 2018. Blackmon, Arenado, Manager Bud Black, and General Manager Jeff Bridich provide quotes on what they expect from the youngsters moving forward.

Cardinals Kind of Sign Greg Holland | FanGraphs
The St Louis Cardinals signed relief pitcher Bud Norris to a one-year, $3 million contract on Monday, and while this comp may not jump out to you right away, FanGraphs’ Jeff Sullivan notes that Norris had a very similar season to the Rockies’ closer in 2017.

Colorado Rockies: If MLB’s greatest pitchers had played at Coors Field | Rox Pile
In a fun exercise, Rox Pile’s Kevin Henry ran a simulation at Baseball-Reference of how the numbers of baseball’s all-time greatest pitchers would look like if they spent their entire careers in a 2017 iteration of Coors Field.