clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Do the Rockies need to upgrade their outfield?

New, 155 comments

Rockies news and links for February 6, 2018

Colorado Rockies: 5 big bets and 2 possibilities who could help | Rox Pile
The Colorado Rockies will be treated to at least one more season of Charlie Blackmon handling center field in 2018. Beyond his MVP-caliber campaign of 2017, though, the team was faced with some disconcerting play from the rest of its outfield. Carlos Gonzalez had an overwhelmingly disappointing year, before hitting like the CarGo of old in September. Gerardo Parra’s season looked solid on the surface, but he showed signs of wearing down by season’s end. Ian Desmond was never able to get it going in a return from surgery on a fractured left hand accrued during Spring Training. Raimel Tapia showed flashes of his talent at times, but still ended up as an overall negative-WAR player on the year. David Dahl was never able to play in a single big-league game after sustaining setback after setback while trying to recover from a back injury.

Apart from Gonzalez, all will be back with the Rockies in 2018. So, should the Rox look to upgrade the corner outfield spots to avoid the same trials and tribulations of season’s past? Free agent Lorenzo Cain and trade target Christian Yelich both seemed like the most obvious chances to upgrade, but both are now members of the Milwaukee Brewers. J.D. Martinez remains the top position player free agent still available on a stagnant market, but he is undoubtedly out of the Rockies’ price range. The Rockies have remained in talks with Gonzalez’s camp, but nothing has come to fruition yet, and it remains to be seen just how much CarGo will be able to contribute down the stretch in his age-32 season. According to a post at ESPN, Gonzalez or another CarGo, Carlos Gomez, were mentioned as possible fits. Gomez did post a solid 110 wRC+ in 2017, which was better than that of any Rockies outfielder not named Blackmon.

We can still think positively about the current group though. Steamer projects Desmond to put up a .283/.341/.468 slash in 2018, which would not be an insignificant production increase for him. Dahl is projected for a .283/.334/.474 batting line, and I would think a completely healthy Dahl easily tops that. Parra will likely regress, but still could be a very solid option in a fourth outfielder role. Tapia hit .400 in a limited sample of 20 plate appearances in September, but might be best served beginning the year at Triple-A Albuquerque to gain more seasoning. Beyond these four, Mike Tauchman has stated that he is coming into camp with something to prove and is currently projected by Roster Resource to make the Rockies’ Opening Day 25-man roster. Jordan Patterson’s name has also been floated around by Manager Bud Black this offseason, and he has shown that he has mastered hitting Triple-A pitching.

Ultimately, I believe the Rockies are best served by going with a corner outfield of primarily Dahl and Desmond, with Parra as a fourth outfielder. If Tapia starts the year on fire at Triple-A, he could easily force the hand of the Rockies to receive a call up to the MLB level. Rox Pile’s Kevin Henry breaks down the situation in further detail.

BSN Rockies Podcast: Colorado’s biggest needs | BSN Rockies
Drew Creasman also discusses the Rockies’ potential need for an upgrade in the outfield in one of the latest episodes of the BSN Rockies podcast. Creasman also talks about Miami Marlins catcher JT Realmuto, who has been speculated as a fit for the Rockies. Realmuto lost his arbitration case against the Marlins on Friday, so he will receive $2.9 million for his 2018 salary instead of his desired $3.5 million. Creasman uses this example to expand upon what he believes to be a broken system for players when it comes to arbitration. Pace-of-play and other topics are also discussed in an as-always recommended listen.

Rockies spring training preview: Is catcher Chris Iannetta up to the challenge? | The Denver Post
Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post spoke to Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta, who will be 35 in April and has not caught 100 games in a season since 2014. The expectation from General Manager Jeff Bridich is that Iannetta will be able to perform that task in 2018, and Iannetta believes he is up to the challenge. Bridich notes that “the other catchers will complement” Iannetta, which reinforces my admittedly hot take I’ve presented a couple of times in previous Rockpiles that Tony Wolters and Tom Murphy will both be making the Opening Day roster.

Rockies heading to camp with similar plan | Rockies.com
MLB.com’s Thomas Harding notes that the Rockies are going to Spring Training with a very similar plan to what they were running with this time last year. The homegrown young starting pitching staff worked out very well for the team in 2017, and another year of their development will be on full display for the coming year. On the position player side, the only plausible free agent additions at this point appear to be bringing back either Gonzalez or Mark Reynolds, Harding notes. Todd Frazier, who the Rox were also reportedly looking at, signed a two-year, $17 million contract with the New York Mets on Monday evening.

Colorado Rockies: Can they hold off the Milwaukee Brewers again? | Rox Pile
As mentioned above, the Brewers made some significant offseason additions in Cain and Yelich. As the 2017 season ended, it became clear that the Los Angeles Dodgers were going to win the National League West, and that the Arizona Diamondbacks were going to claim the first spot in the National League Wild Card. The biggest competition for the Rockies ended up being the Brewers, who finished the year just one game behind the Rockies for the second National League Wild Card spot. Now that the Brewers have clearly made some upgrades, have the Rockies done enough to answer back? Olivia Greene of Rox Pile breaks it down.

Prospect Rankings

2018 Prospects: The Top 101 | Baseball Prospectus
Three sites published prospect rankings on Monday. Baseball Prospectus included three members of the Rockies on their top 101 list, with Brendan Rodgers at #12, Riley Pint at 77, and Ryan McMahon at 99. Baseball Prospectus staff members Jeffrey Paternostro, Jarrett Seidler, and Craig Goldstein also provide a podcast to break down the entire list. Pint gets a brief mention in the podcast as a “throw the dart guy,” who could just as easily be a top 30 prospect as he could be someone left off the list entirely, according to the Baseball Prospectus crew.

2018 Top 100 Prospects | FanGraphs
FanGraphs released their top 100 list on Monday as well, with the same three players receiving rankings for the Rockies- Rodgers at 18, Pint at 175, and McMahon at 183. FanGraphs’ list provides a significant amount of information for these players and more including descriptions, future value projections, and links to video for all 100 prospects.

Who does ZiPS project to be the top 100 prospects of 2018? | ESPN($)
In an ESPN Insider-only piece, Dan Szymborski reveals the prospects that projection system ZiPS believes will be the best in 2018. Rodgers makes the list at 15, with McMahon at 66. We also have two additional names added to the fray for the Rockies- Ryan Castellani comes in at 48 and Garrett Hampson is ranked 90.

Rodgers, McMahon, and Pint were previously listed (in that order) on rankings from Baseball America and MLB.com. ESPN’s Keith Law (also in an Insider-only piece) included Rodgers, McMahon, and Peter Lambert on his list (in that order). Out of all the rankings we’ve seen, everyone has at least come to the consensus that Rodgers is the Rockies’ top prospect, but there are certainly differing opinions from there.