Trevor Story isn’t getting paid in 2020 what he will in 2021. It’s the expiring contracts of his teammates that up the ante a year later—and it’s perhaps Story’s contract (along with the Arenado uncertainty) that staves off the bulldozers of a rebuild for at least a little while.
But why did Dick Monfort wait to predict 90-plus wins this year until after the deal?
MLB Network tabbed Trevor Story as the best current shortstop in baseball just a few days ago. The best in the business is under arbitration restriction by Colorado up through the end of this two-year deal. The arbitration figures the team and player presented this offseason didn’t match, and the Rockies management looked to commit as little as possible to Story’s salary by going to a hearing. That meeting was ultimately negotiated around. Then came the finalized deal—and then came Monfort’s comments on a 90-win season.
The timeliness is probably all coincidence, but Dick Monfort has no other way to promote his 71-win team from 2019 than by supporting a hefty Story contract and hoping for the best. No other substantial deals or changes are going through.
Forbes contributor Jack Etkin points out how Daniel Murphy, Jake McGee and Ian Desmond will be the first ‘larger’ contracts on the Rockies payroll to expire. Story will make $8 million in 2020 and $17.5 million in 2021, a $9.5 million uptick. That increase in salary for a single player is highly uncharacteristic of a rebuild: Starling Marte’s departure from Pittsburgh frees up about as much as that uptick this next year for the Pirates, and it makes starting pitcher Chris Archer their highest paid player in 2020, at $9 million.
The deal that sent Marte to Arizona indicates heavily that Pittsburgh has waived the white flag of a rebuild. They have freed up their funding accordingly, and, sans an owner confident in 90-plus wins, they allow themselves a foreseeable long-term outlook on how to stack the deck in their favor.
Dick Monfort’s 90-plus win projection is also uncharacteristic of a rebuild; if his opinion is based merely on naive optimism, we’re left to hope that optimism isn’t what ignites a hole right through the Rockies’ pockets and leads to irrational financial decisions during a time where some may say to rebuild.
Pittsburgh will rank third from the bottom in MLB payroll in 2020 barring any serious changes. They also had the fourth worst attendance last year. The five teams that had the worst attendance in baseball last year also have the lowest payroll this season. Attendance is far from an issue in Colorado as the Rockies ranked sixth best last year, but a dip in ticket sales could mean less cash for the organization to work with—and an inevitably slower rebuild than what that sixth highest attendance may suggest and anticipate.
As long as fans continue to step through the turnstiles, the Monfort family continues to satisfy a paramount aspect of baseball team ownership. Having money isn’t everything, but not having it is. With each scanned ticket stub, fans support their team monetarily. As long as the taps at the Rooftop continue to flow, some may (unfortunately) be getting all that they're looking for.
Story’s contract eats up his arbitration years remaining, making him a free agent upon the contract expiration.
Add your Nike patches, add your brown uniform accents in San Diego and add your powder blue in a lot of places; don’t add, however, a new look for the Rockies, at least for this year. The Rockies’ current combo registers at sixth worst in baseball according to this article.
Teams have embraced new looks this year, but it looks as though Colorado won’t switch anything up uniform-wise, as has been the case for many years. There’s been enough alterations to the Spring Training hat over the years, and people have seemingly gone crazy over the Rockies mountain logo done up in a Colorado flag. Those caps may be the extent of uniform alteration for Colorado.
San Diego was the worst team in the NL West last year and now they will bring back the brown on their uniforms. Somebody that wouldn’t have bought a classic blue Padres hat may very well go out and get a brown one now. With these uniforms come a new exuberance towards a Padres team that otherwise didn't have much to cheer for in 2019, especially now that the Manny Machado infatuation phase is over and his presence has sinked in. There isn’t quite the nostalgia of a once-distant player that puts people in Padres seats anymore, and new uniforms can at least act as some sort of attention.
If the Rockies are looking to change their uniforms, maybe the time to do it is at the start of a rebuild when there aren’t many star players a team thrives off of. It isn’t to say it’s imminent, but it’s interesting to see how a San Diego uniform announcement has given the Padres some conversation—and possibly even some momentum to make the public feel like they're for real.
Long story short: maybe it takes new uniforms and 21st-century persuasion tactics to put people in seats during a rebuild. If it’s to take two years to start a rebuild, be on the lookout for those signs.
Here’s your Colorado offseason recap if it were assembled by Saturday Night Live writers. Get ready for the phrase “Doo-Doo Crown” used casually in an article—this one has a lot going on.