With the departure of DJ LeMahieu at the end of 2018, the Rockies had a hole to fill at second base. Left on their roster are two young candidates — Ryan McMahon and Garrett Hampson. If they want to, they could give Brendan Rodgers a shot at the position with a good showing in spring training. Although it would not have been surprising if the team pursued a veteran, that does not appear to be the case.
On December 21, the Rockies signed free agent 1B/2B Daniel Murphy to a two year deal, which could have plugged that hole at second base. Initially, it felt like signing Murphy meant that McMahon and Hampson would yet again be blocked by veterans at their positions. However, it was quickly announced that Murphy would be the primary first baseman and Ian Desmond would be shifted to the outfield. That still left a hole at second base yet to be filled
Soon after, news came out that the Rockies were looking at free agent second baseman Brian Dozier. This, too, was unsettling. The Rockies have many talented young players and top prospects who are itching for playing time, so why do they keep pursuing aging veterans to fill spots? Fortunately, Dozier signed a one-year deal with the Nationals. Right before the deal was signed, Thomas Harding offered this up for Rockies fans:
The market for free-agent 2B Brian Dozier has picked up this week, but I am told the #Rockies -- with Ryan McMahon, Garrett Hampson and top prospect Brendan Rodgers set to compete -- are no longer part of it.— Thomas Harding (@harding_at_mlb) January 10, 2019
This tweet gives nothing less than hope. The team has a history of playing veterans rather than young players. Even when they do start a young player, it seems as though they are quick to pull them back in if they struggle even a little bit, whereas veterans are given the benefit of the doubt over and over again to “work through things.”
With the pass of the veteran Dozier, it does seem as though the Rockies are poised to hand the reins over to some of their young players to see what they can do — something they haven’t done fully with a position player since Trevor Story’s rookie season. The competition for second base will be heated this spring, but hopefully this is the opportunity McMahon, Hampson, and/or Rodgers needs to prove that they belong in the big leagues full time, and hopefully this opens the door for other young players in the near future.