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Some new faces will be headed to Talking Stick

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Colorado Rockies news and links for Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Pitchers and catchers report today!

Yesterday, the Rockies released their list of non-roster Spring Training invitees. With that, let’s take a look at who will be suiting up in purple for the first time when the whole squad touches down in Arizona on February 23.

Active Roster

Every pitcher and catcher on the current 40-man roster will report to camp today. Despite a (mostly) quiet offseason from the Rockies, they have a total of six new arms on the roster:

  • Yoan Aybar (LHP), acquired via trade on December 3 from Boston
  • Lucas Gilbreath (LHP), added prior to Rule 5 draft
  • Austin Gomber (LHP), acquired via trade on February 1 from St. Louis
  • Helcris Olivarez (LHP), added prior to Rule 5 draft
  • Jordan Sheffield (RHP), Rule 5 draft selection from Los Angeles (NL)
  • Robert Stephenson (RHP), acquired via trade on November 25 from Cincinnati

While not a new face to the team, Justin Lawrence (RHP) was removed from the restricted list on September 28 and is back on the active 40-man roster after serving an 80-game suspension for violating MLB’s drug policy.

Non-roster invitees

Outside of the 40-man roster, the front office made a handful of minor league free agent signings who will suit up for Spring Training for the first time:

  • Brian Gonzalez (LHP), signed to a minor league contract on November 17
  • Dereck Rodríguez (RHP), signed to a minor league contract on November 9
  • Chad Smith (RHP), acquired via trade on August 14
  • José Briceño (C), signed to a minor league contract on November 16

Dereck Rodríguez headlines this group as he had a brilliant rookie campaign just a few seasons ago for the division-rival San Francisco Giants and is expected to compete for a spot in the rotation. Rodríguez was signed to a minor league contract on November 9.

Briceño is another non-roster invitee with some previous big league experience in the Los Angeles Angels organization. He had a slash line of .239/.299/.385 with five home runs in just 128 plate appearances during the 2018 season.

What to watch for

Most of the new faces reporting today with the pitchers and catchers have been added for depth, however, the Rockies have two primary needs that they will aim to iron out over the course of spring training.

The fifth spot in the rotation is up for grabs again. While the frontrunner for the job is recent acquisition Austin Gomber, who was impressive in the shortened 2020 MLB season with the St. Louis Cardinals, Rodríguez was signed late in 2020 to potentially win the fifth starter job. Others who are on the short list include Ryan Castellani and Chi Chi González.

There is also a glaring need for left-handed options out of the bullpen. At the moment, there is no real incumbent for a left-handed specialist relief role. This is probably why Jeff Bridich made a few moves to add some lefties in the offseason. If Gomber becomes part of the rotation, it’s unclear if the Rockies will have a lefty in the bullpen but it’s possible one of the new additions fills that much-needed role.

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The Rockies’ projections are in. They’re not great. But is there room for optimism? | The Athletic ($)

As the offseason winds down and MLB transitions to Spring Training, season projections are beginning to be released. Unsurprisingly, the outlook is not good for the Colorado Rockies. The Athletic’s Nick Groke digs into why this roster is predicted to win so few games by the computer models. He also offers some optimism with reasons why the Rockies could overachieve at each position.

Just you wait ... These 10 hitters will break out | mlb.com

In a collaborative piece, the staff at mlb.com identified ten hitters (five in each league) primed to breakout during the 2021 season. Sarah Langs praised the potential of Ryan McMahon, the presumed replacement at third base for the now departed Nolan Arenado, and pegged him as a breakout candidate. As was recently pointed out by our own Adam Peterson, McMahon’s power hasn’t shown in games as much as it could due to his high strikeout rates. In Langs’ opinion, “it seems like this could be the year it all comes together for McMahon.” If McMahon can indeed solve some of his strikeout issues it would be a huge lift for the Rockies offense in the upcoming season.

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