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Which non-tenders could be a fit on the 2020 Rockies?

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Looking at the non-tenders and the possible Rockies’ fits

Update: 7:18 PM MT

Several clubs have reworked new deals with some of their non-tenders.

The Giants have re-signed Tyler Anderson, the Red Sox have re-signed Marco Hernández, the Padres have re-signed Pedro Avila and Miguel Díaz and the White Sox have re-signed Ryan Burr and Caleb Frare.

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

Tyler Anderson and Chad Bettis were non-tender candidates but left the organization in late-October. Anderson was claimed off waivers by the San Francisco Giants, while Bettis was outrighted off the 40-man roster and elected free agency. Interestingly enough, Anderson was non-tendered by the Giants on Monday, along with Rico Garcia, another former Rockie who was also claimed off waivers by San Francisco.

Clubs need to exchange figures with their arbitration-eligible players by January 10, 2020. If agreements cannot be reached, arbitration hearings will take place in February.

For the Rockies, these players (and their projected salaries) include: Trevor Story ($11.5 million, second year of arbitration eligibility), Jon Gray ($5.6 million, second year), David Dahl ($3 million, first year), Kyle Freeland ($2.4 million, first year), Scott Oberg ($2 million, second year), Tony Wolters ($2 million, second year) and Carlos Estévez ($1.2 million, first year).

Here is a complete list of players who were non-tendered across baseball:

NL West

  • Arizona Diamondbacks— C Caleb Joseph, OF Steven Souza Jr., SP Taijuan Walker
  • Colorado Rockies— None
  • Los Angeles Dodgers— RP Yimi García
  • San Diego Padres— SP Pedro Avila, P Miguel Díaz
  • San Francisco Giants— SP Tyler Anderson, P Rico Garcia, OF Kevin Pillar, OF Joey Rickard

NL Central

NL East

AL West

AL Central

AL East

These non-tenders will now hit the free agent market and shouldn’t come with high price tags. With such low-risk, high-reward players, teams are always looking to find diamonds in the rough among non-tenders. Who could be a fit on the Rockies? Let’s explore some options.

  • Tyler Anderson— No one knows Anderson better than the Rockies. It’s interesting to see the Giants cut him as their on-paper rotation doesn’t look set by any means and he could definitely have made a case to slot in. But perhaps both the Rockies and Giants are concerned about his knee injury and know more than the rest of us. Jordan Freemyer wrote more about Anderson in this year’s Ranking the Rockies profile.
  • C.J. Cron— Cron possesses some prodigious power and there should be several suitors for his services. Over the past two seasons, he has clocked 55 dingers, with a slash line of .253/.317/.482. He is limited to first base and his on-base percentage carries some question marks. If the Rockies are looking for right-handed power, however, he may be perfect. Over the past two seasons, he has demolished southpaws to the tune of a .315/.380/.591 line. Out of all of Monday’s non-tenders, he may make the most sense for the Rockies.
  • Charlie Culberson— The former Rockie showed he could be a marginally effective utility player with the Braves from 2018-19. Against lefties, he has batted .281/.314/.469 in 169 plate appearances. The 4.7% walk rate leaves much to be desired, but he could be a candidate for a minor league deal. The Culberson non-tender was reportedly not a popular move in Braves country, as the fanbase had evidently taken quite a shine to him. His 2019 season came to an end after a very scary situation where he was hit in the head by a pitch from Fernando Rodney.
  • Elias Díaz— Díaz ranks as a poor defensive catcher and only hit .241/.296/.307 for the Pirates in 2019. But he is right-handed and could make for an interesting platoon partner with Tony Wolters at a very affordable cost. From 2018-19, Díaz hit .307/.333/.448 against left-handed pitching in 172 plate appearances— good for a 110 wRC+.
  • Maikel Franco— If you’re a believer that Coors Field can cure what ails a hitter, you might be interested in Franco. He only hit .234/.297/.409 in 2019, but does have three seasons of better-than-average production under his belt, according to DRC+. On the other hand, his only recent defensive experience has come at third base, where the Rockies are relatively set. He does have some very limited time spent at first base, and while I’m absolutely not advocating for this, Franco did have better numbers against southpaws in 2019, slashing .245/.333/.461, so a platoon with Daniel Murphy might not be the absolute wildest idea.
  • Rico Garcia— On the very latest PuRPs rankings, Garcia came in at No. 12. He only received one start and one relief appearance for the Rockies in his debut in 2019, which did not go well. However, the 25-year-old may have been rushed to the majors and there is certainly plenty more potential in his arm. Sam Bradfield covered Garcia’s rookie season in this year’s Ranking the Rockies profile.
  • Yimi García— If García could find a way to stop giving up home runs, he probably wouldn’t have found his way onto this list of non-tenders. From 2018-19, García allowed an alarming 22 homers in 84 23 innings. During the same time, he struck out 85 batters against a minuscule 18 walks. His 2019 ERA was 3.61, so the home runs didn’t hurt his bottom-line results too much, but there’s enough of a sample to suggest his homer-prone tendencies are more than just a fluke.
  • Kevin Gausman— The Rockies have been connected to Colorado-native Gausman in the past. After an ugly start to his season with the Braves, he was claimed off waivers by the Reds in August and put up good numbers after being transitioned to the bullpen. This is just my speculation, but I think we’ll see the Rox make an attempt to get Gausman to come to Denver.
  • Junior Guerra— After spending much of his career working out of the rotation, the Brewers moved Guerra to the ‘pen in 2019 and he saw success. Over 83 23 innings, Guerra pitched to a 3.55 ERA and 83 DRA-.
  • César Hernández— There wouldn’t be a clear path to playing time for the switch-hitting Hernández on the Rockies’ roster, as he is mostly limited to second base. After a two-year stretch (2017-18) where he slashed .272/.364/.389 (104 wRC+), Hernández took a slight step back in 2019 (92 wRC+). There are very mixed reviews on his defense, and despite the fact that Hernández had the highest 2019 fWAR of any of Monday’s non-tenders, I don’t see evidence to indicate he would be better on both offense and defense than some combination of Ryan McMahon and Garrett Hampson.
  • James Hoyt— Hoyt hasn’t seen regular playing time since 2017, but he always intrigued me as his peripherals have consistently outpaced his results. He dealt with injuries at times in 2019 but could represent a good player to take a minor league flyer on.
  • Danny Hultzen— The Rockies could use pitching and without the payroll space to go after top free agents, Hultzen represents an intriguing option. The Rockies went the creative route when they signed Jose Mujica and could do the same here. Hultzen was the second overall draft pick by the Mariners in 2011. At the age of 29, the left-hander finally made his major league debut for the Cubs in 2019, posting a very small sample of 3 13 scoreless innings. Hultzen has struggled with walks at times in his minor league career, but arm injuries have prevented him from ever really showcasing what he can do.
  • Jimmy Nelson— Nelson’s career has been absolutely derailed by arm injuries. He missed all of 2018 and much of 2019 but looking back at his 2017 campaign is tantalizing (29 starts, 3.49 ERA, 10.2 K/9, 2.5 BB/9). When he was activated from the Injured List at the beginning of September, the Brewers used him as a reliever, but the 30-year-old definitely has the experience of a starter and should be used as such if his arm holds up.
  • Kevin Plawecki— Unlike Díaz, Plawecki ranks as a largely plus defensive backstop. However, he doesn’t possess much in the way of offensive prowess. Against lefties, he has only slashed .206/.280/.319 in his career, so he would not make an ideal platoon partner for Wolters.
  • Yolmer Sánchez— Sánchez is a tremendous defender in the infield but is a career .244/.299/.357 career batter. As with Hernández, he doesn’t make a good fit on the Rockies’ roster. However, much was made about the potential “fun” problem on the Rockies in 2019. And I submit to you Yolmer may be the cure.
  • Domingo Santana— Santana is an interesting corner outfield option who hits right-handed. While he rates as a poor defender, his .253/.329/.441 line was good for a 102 DRC+ in 2019. His splits aren’t pronounced, but he was better against lefties, producing a .328/.345/.475 line against them.
  • Travis Shaw— After a two-season stretch (2017-18) where he produced a healthy .258/.347/.497 batting line with 63 long balls, Shaw inexplicably took a gigantic step backward in 2019. He only slashed .157/.281/.270 (47 wRC+) with seven home runs. He did have one brief stint on the Injured List, but it doesn’t appear injury was the primary culprit. In half as many games in the minors, he raked to the tune of a 147 wRC+, with 12 dingers. He would be an interesting bounce-back candidate, but a left-handed corner infielder would be a tough fit on the Rockies.
  • Kevan Smith— Much like Díaz, Smith rates as a poor defender, but would represent a potential right-handed half of a platoon with Wolters. In his career, Smith has slashed .304/.348/.439 against left-handed pitching (and had a very healthy .379/.439/.552 line against southpaws in 132 plate appearances from 2018-19).
  • Blake Treinen— Treinen had one of the best seasons ever by a reliever in 2018. He was “the first pitcher in MLB history to record 30+ saves, 100+ strikeouts, and a sub-1.00 ERA in the same season.” Something went terribly wrong for Treinen in 2019. His walked rate surged to nearly six per nine innings and his usual ability to keep the ball in the yard faded, as he allowed nine home runs in 58 23 innings en route to a 4.91 ERA, with even worse peripherals. His career 56.9% ground-ball rate also plummeted to a career-low 42.8% in 2019. Someone out there is going to take a chance on this reliever who is only a season removed from having one of the best seasons ever in hopes he can figure out his recent struggles.
  • Taijuan Walker— DRA- suggests Walker’s only above-average season was 2015, but he has long outperformed his peripherals, with a career 3.95 ERA. Walker missed most of 2018 and nearly all of 2019 due to Tommy John surgery but appears to be healthy headed into 2020.

Feel free to make your case for any of the non-tenders in the comments below!