One of my favorite jokes that began circulating around the Rockies in 2021 was the fact that they have a tendency to just stick with the players that they know and had once been with the organization. This past season saw Jhoulys Chacín return to the team that he originally debuted with, Ashton Goudeau go on a cross-country expedition to just end up being traded back to Colorado, and interim general manager Bill Schmidt slightly retcon a trade to bring back the Rockies 2020 draft pick Case Williams.
While it may be a joke, there is truth in the fact that the Rockies like to stay with familiar faces. Lucky for us there are plenty of former Rockies on the market, so why not give some thought to what a roster could look like of free agents that used to play for the Rockies. I will be excluding players like Trevor Story and Jon Gray because that wouldn’t be much fun now, would it? With that in mind, let’s build a roster!
C- Jonathan Lucroy
One of the Rockies' main acquisitions at the 2017 trade deadline, Lucroy slashed .310/.429/.437 for a strong second of that season in Colorado. Lucroy brings veteran knowledge behind the plate, and despite only playing in seven games in 2021, could still provide quality at-bats to help score runs. He’s well past his fabulous 2016 season, but he could try to discover the magic in his bat once again.
1B- Mark Cahna
This pick technically counts, but just barely. The Rockies selected Cahna from the Miami Marlins during the 2014 Rule-5 Draft, but then quickly traded him to Oakland for Austin House. So, for a brief moment, the Rockies had Cahna on the roster before swapping him out and giving him former Rockie status. He has a career OPS+ of 114 and a bWAR of 12.6 which could make him a realistic option for the actual Rockies for the 2022 season. His familiarity with first base gives this roster a reasonable place to slot him in to keep his bat available.
2B- Pat Valaika
Speaking of a strong 2017, Patty Barrels himself returns to take over second base. Valakia has played all over the diamond, but second appears to be his best spot defensively. He is prone to strikeout, but we can’t forget that he does have some sneaky pop hidden in that bat as evidenced by his 2017 season. If he could get the ball in the air more instead of hitting a grounder 33.3% of the time, he could contribute quite a bit more to our free agent team.
3B- Charlie Culberson
The utility infielder is now our third baseman in his return to the team. Like Valakia, Culberson won’t blow you away with his bat, but his defensive proficiency, mixed with his experience on better clubs like the Dodgers and the Braves, could at least give a serviceable plate approach. He just needs to cut down on the strikeouts.
SS- Chris Owings
In what feels like an inevitable signing anyway, Chris Owings returns and this time will be the full-time shortstop. Injuries have been a problem while in Colorado, but when healthy Owings has slashed .298/.372/.536 with an OPS+ of 129. For some reason he hits well with Colorado, we just need him to stay healthy.
LF- Corey Dickerson
Throughout his career, Dickerson has consistently been a quality contributor to every team he’s played on. Over nine years and across six teams, Dickerson posted a career 13.7 bWAR which is one of the best on this team. His power numbers have declined over the years, but is still a productive bat and has played Gold Glove-worthy defense in the outfield. His .345 OBP in Colorado is still the highest mark among all the teams he’s played on.
CF- Mike Tauchman
For the sole purpose of being a younger left-handed outfielder, Tauchman gets the nod over Pillar to patrol centerfield for our team. In his five-year career, Tauchman has accumulated a bWAR of 3.1 while slashing .231/.326/.378 in 257 games. He profiles as a decent top-of-the-order bat and serviceable outfielder and given an opportunity to play every day for our Colorado team he may be able to replicate the success he had in New York during the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
RF- Dexter Fowler
I decided to reward the veteran with a spot in the starting lineup after injury robbed him of a 2021 season with the Angels. The switch-hitter doesn’t move like he used to, but there is still time to give him a proper send-off before retirement. Fowler made a name for himself during his six years in purple, and his 9.5 bWAR is still his highest mark with any team. He also brings experience from winning teams, including his World Series ring with the 2016 Cubs.
Bench- Kevin Pillar (OF), Wilin Rosario (1B/C), Tony Wolters (C/IF), Forrest Wall (IF/OF), Gerardo Parra (OF/1B)
Plenty of familiar faces cover the bench for the Rockies. Kevin Pillar and Gerardo Parra will likely get the most opportunities in the outfield during platoon assignments, with Parra getting some starts at first base to give Cahna a day off here and there. Tony Wolters returns as the back-up for Lucroy, but will also be needed to fill more time in the middle infield, which is a spot he has played before with the Rockies.
Forrest Wall returns to the club that drafted him after being traded away to the Toronto Blue Jays for Seung-Wan Oh. He will also be expected to play more infield than outfield, but his versatility along with his young rookie status is valuable. Finally, Wilin Rosario makes a return to the big leagues after playing down in Mexico in 2021. His days at catcher are mostly over, but his bat still carries some pop that would make or fabulous designate hitter or even a pinch-hit home run late in the game.
Rotation: Jordan Lyles, Tyler Anderson, Brett Anderson, Chi Chi Gonzalez, Tyler Chatwood
This rotation won’t be throwing heat past every batter, but they are older and experienced pitchers. Jordan Lyles and Tyler Anderson have become solid rotation pieces following their departures from Colorado. Brett Anderson stayed healthy enough to contribute to the Brewers' successful efforts. Tyler Chatwood and Chi Chi Gonzalez are the wild cards here, as we know they can have bright spots of dominance and other times be smacked around the ballpark. Regardless, they fill up nicely in the backend of our rotation.
Bullpen: Joe Beimal, Adam Ottavino, John Axford, Collin McHugh, J.D. Hammer, Chris Martin, Chris Rusin
Our bullpen is quite old and mirrors the aging factor of our rotation. However, several of these pitchers have been on successful teams and even found some success in Colorado. We’ve helped Joe Beimal make his comeback that fell short of the big leagues in 2021 and gives us a second lefty reliever along with Chris Rusin.
Collin McHugh has been a strong utility arm in the bullpen with the capability to be a long-man, a spot starter, or even a late innings type of guy. Adam Ottavino and John Axford have experience in the back end of the Rockies bullpen while Chris Martin rounds things out after his time with the Atlanta Braves and a strong career so far after a rough 16 game debut for the Rockies in 2014. Throw in the young reliever J.D. Hammer, included in the trade for Pat Neshek, and we’ve got a decent bullpen to work with.
Will this team win the World Series? Probably not. However, it is interesting to think about how many games this team could manage to win if they played together for a full season. Besides, it’s nice when you can reunite with your old friends, especially if they can play for the Rockies.
★ ★ ★
Speaking of sticking with what you know, the Rockies have brought back Jhoulys Chacín for another season. Chacín turned into a pleasant surprise for the 2021 season, eventually becoming a late-inning reliever with the squad where he went 3-2 with a 4.34 ERA in 46 appearances. The expectation is that he will resume his role as a long reliever, while the Rockies try to address the back end of their bullpen.
Noah Yingling runs through a fun thought experiment but ultimately concludes that while Kyle Seager could probably help the Rockies, he isn’t a good fit for the team. Not only would he provide logistical problems of where to play him, but the Rockies are more in need of a shortstop than they are an aging first baseman. It’s an interesting roster proposal however and that is always worthy of consideration.
On the Farm: Arizona Fall League Edition
The Rockies had three players make it to the Arizona Fall League All-Star Game in the form of Ryan Vilade, Reagan Todd, and Michael Toglia. The Rockies’ prospects didn’t see much action in the game as both Vilade and Toglia were substitutions and Todd didn’t appear at all. In Vilade’s lone appearance at the plate he managed to draw a walk and then steal a base but that was it for the offensive highlights. Regardless, all three players have had quality seasons in Arizona as they continue their quests to permanent spots on the big league roster.
★ ★ ★
Please keep in mind our Purple Row Community Guidelines when you’re commenting. Thanks!