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Rockies monitoring Mitch Moreland, center field options?

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Colorado Rockies news and links for Monday, January 25, 2021

The Colorado Rockies were finally mentioned in two different free agent rumors last week. One came from ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, mentioning the Rockies as one of multiple “suitors” for 1B/DH Mitch Moreland. The other came from MLB Network insider Jon Heyman who tweeted that the Rockies were “monitoring CF.”

Obviously the extent of the Rockies’ interest in either rumor is unknown. We do know the front office is unlikely to get into a bidding war, so they must feel there’s a possible bargain to be had in one or both situations.

Mitch more please

Last offseason, Mitch Moreland signed a deal worth $2.5 million in 2020. It came with a $3 million option for 2021 but it was declined by the Padres a few months ago. If he remains around that same price range it’s easy to see why the Rockies would be interested in the 35-year-old veteran. He’s a career .252 hitter who regularly hits around 20-plus home runs a year and plays gold glove-level defense. He would fill a need for a reliable true first baseman. Moreland would essentially fill the role that Daniel Murphy was supposed to have the last two seasons but provide better defense and home run hitting ability at a cheaper price.

Moreland also fits the description that Bud Black gave back in December of a “big bat” and a “right-side defender.” Adding Moreland would put less pressure on both Ryan McMahon and Josh Fuentes who aren’t natural first baseman. If the DH does return to the National League in 2021, the Rockies will have more flexibility.

Hey-man can you be specific?

Per Heyman’s report, it would appear the Rockies are considering multiple free agent options at center field. However, the possibility exists that because of the known contact that Kevin Pillar and the Rockies had earlier this offseason, Heyman could be lumping the Rockies in as a center fielder interested team. (It’s more possible the Rockies are a Kevin Pillar interested team.) The wording Heyman uses doesn’t make it clear whether the teams he listed are interested in multiple players at that position or a specific player at that position.

It’s also possible—and much more exciting—that the Rockies could actually be looking at all options available, but as Heyman noted, there aren’t a lot of great center field options left. Jackie Bradley Jr. is the best remaining center fielder but he’s expected to earn a big payday so it would be a big surprise given how the Rockies have held onto their money the last two offseasons. The more realistic options include Albert Almora, Jake Marisnick, Delino DeShields and other veterans. Almora, 26, is regarded as defense-first center fielder who had potential at the plate but regressed significantly in 2019. Marisnick is another defensive center fielder who struggles to hit for average. DeShields, 28, offers slightly better offensive numbers (career .243/.326/.340) with above-average defense at an affordable third-year arbitration-eligible price. So if the Rockies are looking for defense from a center fielder, there are options. If they want a balance of both offense and defense from center field at a reasonable price, Kevin Pillar is probably their man.

Conclusion

Perhaps the interest level is actually lukewarm and the Rockies get outbid. It’s completely possible and probably most likely, but just seeing the Rockies’ name come up with major league players is exciting and needed. As Joelle Milholm talked about last Friday, the lack of impact moves and increase of fan anxiety surrounding Trevor Story and Nolan Arenado has only made for a long, uninteresting winter. It’s OK to allow yourself to have some small hope for a move. Maybe the Rockies are finally on the brink of making an addition.

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