What began as a quiet and pretty conservative offseason for the Rockies’ front office ended, in the first week of Spring Training, with what may turn out to be the most momentous contract the team has ever given out and could keep one of the best players the team has ever had, Nolan Arenado, in Denver for his career.
The last two versions of this post about the front office have focused on Bridich’s strengths and weaknesses. We talked about trades, in particular for minor leaguers, as his major strength and free agent signings as the big weakness. Those still hold. Ian Desmond’s contract looks even worse now than it did when it was first inked, and the three relievers the Rockies signed last offseason were a net negative in their first year in Colorado. Trade acquisition German Márquez, however, has emerged as a front of the rotation pitcher. Bridich has also made shrewd in-season trades at the deadline.
This offseason, the Rockies made just one major-league acquisition. They signed Daniel Murphy to a two-year contract to play first base. That contract may shift the narrative a bit, as it has a good chance of being Bridich’s best free agent signing (although no matter how good it is it probably won’t overshadow what will probably be viewed as his worst signing; you know the one).
But there’s more to the front office than just free agents and trades. The “strengths and weaknesses” analysis still looks accurate, but it’s also limited. Within the past 12 months, the Rockies have locked up two cornerstones of the team. Last April, the Rockies signed Charlie Blackmon to a six-year contract that will keep him in Denver through at least 2021 (two player options could keep him under contract through 2023). Incidentally — or not — Arenado’s contract also means he’ll be a member of the Rockies through the 2021 season. If Arenado doesn’t exercise his opt-out after the third year of the contract, he’ll be in Denver through 2026. They also extended manager Bud Black’s contract through the 2022 season.
One thing we’re learning about Bridich is that he’s willing to offer a lot of money and a lot of years for a selection of players that should be able to help the Rockies win within the next few years. I don’t know how much Bridich thinks about “contention windows,” but I do know that the Rockies are well set up to be competitive through, you guessed it, 2021. They’d be in a completely different situation if Bridich decided to let Blackmon and/or Arenado test free agency.
The Rockies have locked in two of their best position players, and they did so at a time when all their other best players are under team control. Here’s a list of a handful of other key players and when they hit free agency:
Free agent schedule
|Player||Free agent after|
|Player||Free agent after|
That list doesn’t even include members of the Rockies with less than two years of service time — players like Antonio Senzatela, Ryan McMahon, and Garrett Hampson. Add Blackmon and Arenado to this list, and those are the guys who are going to be mostly responsible for the Rockies’ success over the next three seasons. All of them, with the exception of Blackmon, are under 30 years old.
If the state of the front office is reflected in the state of the competition window and the immediate outlook over the next few years, then Jeff Bridich gets glowing marks. There are still upgrades to be made, as there always will be, and there will (let’s hope) be another test to make the right trade deadline move. But everything is lining up for the Rockies to be competitive for the next several years. While Jeff Bridich and the current Rockies front office can’t take all credit for it, they are, at the very least, the ones overseeing what looks like the golden age of Rockies baseball.