With ongoing trade talks for Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story, we are left wondering the internal thoughts of Colorado staple Charlie Blackmon as he nears the waning seasons of his professional career. If the core of the team is disassembled, will Blackmon ever get another shot with the Rockies in the postseason?
This isn’t to say the 34-year-old wants out of Denver (nor is it meant to argue ‘against’ a rebuild), but Blackmon’s morale is stuck in a top-heavy division with five postseason games to his name. The word ‘rebuild’ can’t be comforting to the beloved outfielder after investing so much time in the ups and downs of a decade-plus roller coaster. He has shared the field with Arenado for eight years and Story for six; if those teammates are to leave, what does Blackmon’s viewpoint become?
The outfielder collected All-Star appearances in 2017, 2018 and 2019, and he likely would have in 2020 had the event been held. Larry Walker’s best streak of All-Star appearances was four in five years, and the Hall of Famer played until he was 38. That isn’t to say Blackmon has five years left, of course; it looked like he was swimming in the Fountain of Youth at the beginning of 2020. After finishing fourth in NL MVP voting four years ago, his ensuing streak of All-Star appearances suggest he is staying strong with age. He remains one of the most coveted and identifiable players in the Rockies lineup.
One could argue Blackmon has it better than anyone else with the Rockies right now; he is beloved and there is something to be said when a player turns their walk-up song into a ballpark anthem. He could still be unhappy with a lack of recent team success, just like Arenado’s disaffection with the current state of the Rockies. We are left wondering: would Blackmon rather stay a lifelong Rockie and retain his beloved status through the remainder of his career, or play for a team that has made more of a postseason push in the past two years?
If the Rockies opt to rebuild, it will come at the expense of the 10-year Colorado veteran. A ‘complete’ rebuild would presumably take longer than what Blackmon has left on his contract. It’s tough to fathom that ‘no’ rebuild would lead to immediate postseason success, given the past two years of the franchise and the current state of the NL West.
Ask yourself this: if Todd Helton signed a one-year deal with a team other than the Rockies for the final year of his career, and they won the World Series, would it mean more to him than his National League championship in 2007 with the Rockies? Now: substitute ‘one-year’ with however long Blackmon has left, and switch the 2007 run with a 2018 trip to the NLDS.
Blackmon is the third-oldest player on Colorado’s roster, behind only Ian Desmond and Daniel Bard. How is he left to feel?
One thing is for certain: Blackmon’s presence has, and will continue to be, celebrated by Rockies fans. Even if the Rockies lack a competitive presence in the coming years, they look to be equipped with a perennial star in the outfield and in the facial hair game. Any matchup with Blackmon is a contest many Rockies fans will be excited to see. It appears those fans will be getting what they ask for in the coming years.
Moving forward, we can only hope Blackmon is as excited to be in Denver as we are to watch him. His contract holds two player options: one after 2021 and one after 2022.
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Zachary D. Rymer of Bleacher Report speaks highly on Sam Hilliard and his chances at having a monster 2021. “He’s one of the fastest runners in baseball, having achieved 97th percentile sprint speed in 2020. As the 35 home runs he hit at Triple-A in 2019 can attest, he’s also a power threat.” Rymer further mentions his “swing-and-miss habit,” and how Hilliard’s success could be dependent on his strikeout percentage.
Who are the other candidates for a breakout 2021? Perhaps we may see Josh Fuentes become a fixture at first base, or Ryan Rolison making a statement in the starting rotation.
The MLB arbitration deadline is set for Friday, and the Rockies will soon establish salary figures for eight players. Kevin Henry of Rox Pile points out that six of them are pitchers (Senzatela, Freeland, Gray, Estevez, Givens, Stephenson), and the financial landscape for the Rockies has recently changed with the departure of David Dahl and Tony Wolters. “It will be interesting to see how Colorado management can keep salaries as low as they can with some key young pieces in line for raises through arbitration.”
Your Tuesday fun fact: Charlie Blackmon was acquired by Rockies on the same day Buster Posey was acquired by the Giants (2008). Both are the longest tenured players on their respective clubs.
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