2020 trade deadline pickup Mychal Givens will receive $4.05 million in a one-year deal with the Rockies. Antonio Senzatela, the Rockies’ 2020 bWAR leader, signed a one-year, $3 million deal with Colorado on Thursday.
Givens threw less than a third of the innings Senzatela did last year.
Jeff Passan pointed out how the arbitration system values age when it comes to money, so this isn’t a ‘shock’ by any means: “Younger guys get paid less than they should. It’s not that teams are getting bargains. It’s how the system works.” Givens is 30 and entering his seventh MLB season; Senzatela is 25 and entering his fifth.
The dollar value still looks the same on the ledger: the Rangers are paying $1.35 million less for 26-year-old David Dahl than the Rockies are for Givens. The right-hander from Baltimore is the most proven arm on the bullpen staff, and expectations may run high for how he keeps the late innings intact. He has done it before in the AL East.
Givens was acquired on August 30. Colorado held the third-worst bullpen ERA in baseball at the time (6.09), and Givens held a 1.38 ERA with the Orioles. The deal came when the Rockies had the fifth best record in the National League; under the expanded 2020 playoffs, the Rockies needed to finish in the NL’s top eight to earn a postseason berth.
Colorado would then go 9-17 after the trade deadline. The bullpen ERA dropped to a 6.77 by seasons end, and an abundance of relievers were in dire straits:
- Carlos Estévez had a 3.78 ERA before the trade deadline and a 15.95 after.
- Jairo Díaz went from a 4.97 ERA before the deadline to a 12.27 after.
- Wade Davis didn’t make it through the season.
- Ashton Goudeau posted a 7.56 season ERA and was placed on waivers at the end of the year.
- Bryan Shaw didn’t make it to Opening Day.
- Jake McGee didn’t make it to Opening Day (but wasn’t in dire straits for the Dodgers).
- José Mujica—returning from Tommy John surgery—allowed a grand slam to his first MLB hitter. He didn’t make another appearance until the final game of the year.
- Jeff Hoffman moved to the bullpen, posted a 6.59 ERA, and was later traded to the Reds.
Top performers Daniel Bard and Yency Almonte aren’t really ‘proven’ over a full, recent season, so what would the Rockies’ bullpen be without a proven figure?
Givens has already been such a leader in his career. In 2019, Baltimore’s bullpen ERA was 5.79, which was dead last across all of baseball. (Givens posted his worst single-season ERA that year.) He followed it up with 10 consecutive scoreless appearances to kick off 2020, helping to anchor the early-season Orioles to the eventual ninth-best reliever ERA. He again finds himself in a position to take charge going into 2021.
Five of Givens’ six MLB seasons feature an ERA in the threes or below. (There have been proven figures that have struggled in Colorado before—but we won’t go there today.)
He didn’t turn heads in his 9 1⁄3 innings with Colorado last year, but Givens’ work with the Orioles is a beacon of light for a Rockies bullpen that has chartered into league abyss. He still holds a paramount role in keeping the bullpen together; a continuation of his previous work in Baltimore will provide much-needed relief for a cast of Rockies relievers that were left battered.
If a domino effect ensues for the rest of the bullpen, the $4.05 million for Givens will be worth every penny.
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Carlos Estévez reached his arbitration agreement on Friday: $1.45 million in a one-year deal. He tossed 24 innings for the Rockies last season, which was third most among relievers. His career-best ERA was 3.75 in 2019; he followed it up with a 7.50 last season. It’s tough to evaluate pitcher performance in 2020 with such disruptions to the standard, cyclical schedule, so perhaps his best is yet to come.
Estévez allowed three or more earned runs on four occasions in 2020; if the combined 2 1⁄3 innings from those outings are erased, he would have held a season ERA of 2.90.
Jon Gray will make $6 million this year, the highest figure of all Rockies that are arbitration-eligible and a narrow uptick from the $5.6 million he made in 2020. “The Rockies will be looking for him to return to his 2019 form going forward, as he posted a 3.84 ERA while striking out a respectable 23.5 percent of opposing batters that season.”
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The Rockies won’t have any arbitration hearings this year!
With today’s six signings, the Rockies have agreed to terms with all 11 of their arbitration eligible players.— Rockies Club Information (@RockiesClubInfo) January 15, 2021
Here is the full list of all 11 arbitration-eligible players and their contracts:
- Jon Gray: one-year, $6 million
- Kyle Freeland: one-year, $5.025 million
- Mychal Givens: one-year, $4.05 million
- Antonio Senzatela: one-year, $3 million
- Daniel Bard: one-year, $2.925 million
- Ryan McMahon one-year, $2.375 million
- Raimel Tapia: one-year, $1.95 million
- Carlos Estévez: one-year, $1.45 million
- Elias Díaz: one-year, $1.2 million
- Jairo Díaz: one-year, $1.1 million
- Robert Stephenson (from CIN/Hoffman trade): one-year, $805,000
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