Trevor Story will not be headed to an arbitration hearing. The shortstop with two consecutive All-Star appearances gets a hefty salary boost in a two-year extension, and has plenty to smile about as he attends Rockies Fest today.
Story will now make $2.25 million more per year than what he initially asked in arbitration, securing his place for the next two seasons in the process. Story filed an arbitration salary for $11.5 million; Colorado filed for $10.75 million. The difference called for an arbitration hearing, which would have taken place next month, but is no longer needed.
This extension comes on the heels of Nolan Arenado trade discussion that both Arenado and Rockies front office personnel addressed personally within the past week. General Manager Jeff Bridich insisted Arenado is staying; Arenado responded with a headline of his own. News was made in that the speculation was suddenly overflowing.
Story’s extension acts as a bright spot amidst the haze. One of Colorado’s four All-Stars from last season is content enough to stick around longer than their imminent arbitration hearing could have suggested.
The news, however, lies in the timing of a two-year deal—the final season now coinciding with a significant part of the Rockies payroll that will also hit free agency after 2021. It may take until then to even begin a rebuild, if the salary limitations are indeed the limiting factor as they appear.
Aside from Arenado and Story, the two other 2019 All-Stars can stick around at least for a couple more years. Charlie Blackmon has a contract that can last through 2023, some player options along the way. David Dahl signed a deal this offseason to avoid arbitration, but still has three remaining years of arbitration after this season.
A combined $58.5 million is owed to Desmond, Davis, McGee, Shaw and Murphy in 2020—those five make up four tenths of the entire 2020 active payroll. A series of mutual and team options begin to kick in for those players in 2021, and if Desmond’s team option for 2022 isn’t exercised, all five players would be free agents after the next two years.
It may be coincidental that Story’s two-year extension is for that very reason: to expire at the same time as a good portion of team salary commitments.
Story now holds the fifth highest salary on the 2020 roster. An arbitration hearing may still be necessary by the Rockies on another player, however, as Tony Wolters has still yet to reach an agreement.
The replacement for Jerry Schemmel’s radio responsibilities is as about as in-house of a replacement as 850 KOA could get; their sports director, Mike Rice, will fill Schemmel’s vacancy.
iHeartMedia is the “largest radio conglomerate in the country” according to Rolling Stone. AM 850 in Denver is part of iHeartMedia’s affected stations suffering serious employee cutbacks, as many personalities across virtually all forms of radio have lost their platform.
Enter Schemmel: a sports commentator in his 50’s that has covered the Rockies on the AM waves for a decade. His broadcasting prowess landed him the Denver Nuggets radio play-by-play for about two decades. His sports tenure has included a head coaching gig for Denver’s Metro State University baseball team, assisting the baseball program at Colorado Christian University, receiving a law degree in 1985 that propelled him into a five-year legal career, and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for Purple Heart recipients. He survived a plane crash in 1985 where over 100 people perished—saving an 11-month-old amidst the wreckage, too.
Nobody wants to lose their job, but why take it out on that guy? The 50-year-old? One of the most admirable people you can find?
Rolling Stone goes on to mention how iHeartMedia employee cutbacks are likely to exceed 1,000, a large sum given the inherent limitations of radio frequencies. There is no easy way around the subject, but the pompous opening to a recent iHeartMedia employee email reading “we are the #1 audio company in America” sounds more like a far cry from a company president that recently put his $2.95 million house on the market.
It comes of little surprise that, given these cutbacks, an in-house hire is Schemmel’s replacement. Additional expense will be minuscule through the promotion of Mike Rice, a KOA employee since 2002.
It’s easy to be upset about the disappearing of a familiar voice in Schemmel. It’s also important to direct the upset feeling to the employer, iHeartMedia, rather than to his replacement. We’ll be able to familiarize ourselves to the full-time voice of Mike Rice soon; he’s got the shoes of a Denver radio staple to fill, but Rice has been there before, at least as a fill-in.
Rice has covered broadcasting duties as a morning host, as a studio host for the Denver Broncos, and on occasion, covering for the Rockies radio broadcasts. He’s covered collegiate events in Colorado since the 1990’s, and has a sizable sports media background in the Denver market he remains in.
Rice will remain KOA’s sports director, suggesting he will have plenty on his plate come the start of the MLB schedule. Jack Corrigan remains on the Rockies radio staff, so at least one familiar voice will be covering those broadcasts.
Jerry Schemmel’s depature bears striking resemblance to the 2012 departure of Tom Helmer, the infamous Rockies personality on the old FSN Rocky Mountain and Root Sports broadcasts. Helmer was given a negligent “We want to go in a different direction” explanation, and was similarly forced out on largely insufficient terms.
Baseball Twitter is a unique place. There’s a wide array of personalities to bring out all sorts of perspective on virtually anything. Above is a writeup on a series of those personalities, and how they act as marketing prowess that has “rekindled interest in the game among casual fans.”
Maybe Bridich went public about ‘keeping Arenado’ so he didn’t have to talk about it at length during this event going on today. Both Monfort and Bridich will attend today’s event; Arenado will not.