Ian Desmond’s announcement yesterday that he would opt-out of the 2021 season (for now) is one that will have ripples through the final roster decisions.
Desmond was originally figured to be the team’s fourth outfielder and come off the bench to face left-handers. His .281 career batting average off lefties made him useful to match up in a division that features Blake Snell, Clayton Kershaw, David Price, Julio Urías and Madison Bumgarner.
As the Rockies stand right now without Desmond, those at-bats look to fall to the other outfielders on the team, Sam Hilliard and Garrett Hampson. It also makes it much more likely that versatile non-roster invitee Chris Owings makes the opening day roster.
The way I see it is there are four locks to start the season who play the outfield: Charlie Blackmon, Raimel Tapia, Hampson and Hilliard. Blackmon is forever enshrined in right field, while Tapia is better suited for left field but can occasionally slide to center. The best defensive option for center field is easily Hampson with Hilliard behind him but both were figured to come in and out of the lineup at any of the spots.
But with Desmond gone, this might be more significant for Hampson since he’s figured to split time between the infield and the outfield. If he’s spending more time in the outfield because of the lack of depth, then the middle infield will be left to only Trevor Story, Brendan Rodgers and occasionally Ryan McMahon, though he might live at third this year. Thus, adding a versatile veteran like Chris Owings who can play multiple infield and outfield positions makes a lot of sense.
If we do assume Owings makes it along with a second catcher and an additional first baseman (likely C.J. Cron), the Rockies have 12 position players. Since we know the Rockies are looking to start the season with an even split of 13 pitchers and 13 position players, that would leave one final position spot open.
If things fell this way, there wouldn’t be a pressing need for any specific position so it would be best served to add the best bat to the roster. Any of the players who show the most promise throughout the spring could be added: guys like Yonathon Daza, Bret Boswell, Ryan Villade, Eric Stamets, Alan Trejo, Colton Welker, Greg Bird or Connor Joe. This depends a lot on performance, of course, and those players haven’t played in a real game in over a year due to the lost minor league season. Desmond’s absence could open the door for any one of them to make the Opening Day roster.
A ton could change between now and the beginning of the regular season. More players could be added, trades could be made, player options may have to be considered, and 40-man roster moves will undoubtedly happen.
Desmond’s veteran presence and leadership will be missed, perhaps even more in the clubhouse than on the field. His absence this season will be noticeable but the opportunity it gives to younger players could be momentous.
★ ★ ★
Bud Black gives his thoughts on Ian Desmond’s decision and what that means for the leadership of the team.
Pitchers and catchers are a few days into camp now so Thomas Harding brings everyone some notes and quotes on how three different players are looking so far. It features an interesting discussion on how Daniel Bard’s preparing for his first full 162 game season.
If you’re curious about the business behind the development of McGregor Square, The Denver Post’s Joe Rubino takes a deep dive into all things McGregor Square from delays and financing to land ownership and taxes.
★ ★ ★
Please keep in mind our Purple Row Community Guidelines when you’re commenting. Thanks!