The inactivity of the Rockies’ offseason hit an odd circumstance on Friday. They actually signed a free agent with big league experience as recent as last season.
They don’t have room for him in big league camp at Spring Training.
You know it’s a quiet offseason when a minor league deal breaks the news—even more quiet is the fact that this is about the extent of free agent deals Colorado has seen this winter. Zac Rosscup is the player, a reliever with service time amongst five MLB clubs in six years. MLB Trade Rumors says his next stop is likely Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Rosscup threw a career-high 26.2 innings in 2015. Left shoulder inflammation kept him sidelined from big league action for all of 2016. His most MLB innings post-injury came last year, where he threw 18 innings for the Mariners, Blue Jays and Dodgers.
He played for the Rockies briefly in 2017, tossing four earned runs over seven innings. A mid-July option of that year sent him to Triple-A, keeping him out of the big leagues until 2018, when the Dodgers picked him up for 11.1 innings.
The deal he accepted suggests there weren’t many MLB teams interested in his services this next season; three big league teams wanted him in some degree last year, so it’s quite the shift. He only threw one inning last year for Toronto last year, three for Los Angeles, so it wasn’t like he was holding a stable spot in a big league bullpen; a combined 18 innings the entire season is far from yearly inning totals over 40 like a standard bullpen staple may receive (In comparison, Wade Davis threw 42.2 last year).
It’s a small, minuscule headline but it continues to serve as the extent the Rockies are willing to spend in free agency this offseason. People may view it as another Bridich moment, a grand attempt to appear as though he’s doing something, but the attention is better directed toward the willingness of the player, rather than the near-zero-expense the team will spend.
This deal can still epitomize the offseason feelings of Rockies fans toward the team front office, in a pretty ironic sense: a big league pitcher from last year has been signed in hopes that he can help the bullpen, but there isn’t even room in big league camp for the guy they just brought in.
Strip the irony and take it for what it is: Colorado gives this man a locker on the far end of the Spring Training complex, and if things work out, they get an ex-big league reliever waiting in the minors for them. An invite to minor league camp is unbelievably low-risk in this situation. Some think the number of guys in minor league camp is already too big. It’s a long way from the big league experiences Rosscup has tasted (albeit bouncing around Triple-A in the process), but if Bridich feels this signing has even the slimmest upside, it’s a move he makes with near negligible complications.
The offseason of minimal roster alteration continues, but it’s important to recognize how Rosscup’s willingness negates any Bridich-directed fan cynicism in this specific deal. Rockies pitchers Ashton Goudeau and Jose Mujica are likely to pick up innings long before Rosscup, but minor league work may prove whether the 31-year-old left-hander can join them later.
There were plenty of articles like this at the close of the decade, but 104.3 The Fan wanted to do one more. Their list of top ‘moments’ from 2000 onward include ‘non-moments’ like “the humidor evens up the playing field,” or month-long ‘moments’ like the last month of the season in 2007, or an “unbelievable turnaround under Jim Tracy” in 2009. Month-long spans labeled ‘moments’ really widen the spread for this article and make things vague, but it’s still fun to reminisce.
104.3 The Fan goes with the sacrifice fly in the 2007 tiebreaker as the greatest moment on here. Ryan Spilborgh’s walk-off grand slam in 2009 registers at an arguably-low 19th on the list, an odd placement given postseason implications higher than other ‘moments’ above it. Colorado was first in NL Wild Card standings that night, took down Wild Card second San Francisco, and climbed closer to NL West-leading Los Angeles in late August with about a month left. 104.3 The Fan host Cecil Lammey wrote this list; maybe he needed some rest and went to bed early that Monday night.
(My 7th-grade self did too—only to wake up to Jack Corrigan screaming on the faint sounds of my alarm clock. I jumped. Maybe that’s why I’m so biased toward ranking it higher.)
These articles can be fun, but they can often feel like a stretch to force Rockies conversation through a quiet offseason—especially after a December where ‘best of the decade’ lists plagued any real news. No matter the list or a criteria of moments (or in this case, month-long stretches or park adjustments), it helps people through January snow, and that’s better than nothing.
The focal point from that 2007 tiebreaker moment is now officially in college baseball—for the first time ever. Matt Holliday accepted the volunteer assistant coaching position at Oklahoma State University as of this past summer. A writeup for his decision to accept the position “when it might seem most unlikely” tells inspiring details of him returning home.
Holliday grew up in Stillwater, Oklahoma, where Oklahoma State is located. His father Tom held the baseball head coaching job for decades. Matt was the Rockies’ 7th-round selection in 1998 and took a contract out of Stillwater High School, a move that kept him from playing with his father and older brother Josh in college. His decision to turn pro made him a big leaguer six years later.
His family’s decision to move back to Stillwater after his pro career has given them prime opportunity to be with family, his brother Josh saying it’s the “most family time we’ve had together in the last 20 years.” Josh has been the head coach at Oklahoma State since 2012, and now he gets to go to work with his younger brother—who comes enriched with 15 years of MLB experience.
The NCAA regulates college baseball coaching staffs to three paid coaches. A fourth coach, a ‘volunteer assistant’, doesn’t get paid a salary. This designation makes Matt Holliday a serious bargain for a program like Oklahoma State, a program paying a whopping $0 for the coaching services of a seven-time MLB All-Star.
It may be uncommon for a player of Holliday’s stature to take that job, but it isn’t unheard of; Greg Maddux is listed as the volunteer/pitching coach at UNLV.