It hasn’t taken long for the 2021 season to begin to sour on everyone. With the Rockies at an MLB-worst record of 4-12, fans online have not been shy to voice their displeasure. Although it seems the fanbase is split on whether or not the team should enter a complete rebuild, the core frustrations of Rockies faithful sit with the ownership and front office.
The lack of offseason activity has been one of many points brought against the Rockies. One thing the Rockies did do this last offseason was move on from players, many of whom had been in Colorado for some time. It’s impossible to say whether the presence of any of these players on this year’s team would have made any significant difference to the club’s poor start but it is an interesting way to measure the Rockies. It’s not a great sign to have several players get significantly better after they leave your club.
So let’s take a look at how last year’s Rockies are faring in their new uniforms.
Nolan Arenado (Traded to STL)
Nolan is still being Nolan. The just turned 30-year-old third baseman got off to a hot start with his new ball club but has since cooled down to a .271/.328/.525 line with four home runs and 10 RBIs in 59 at-bats. In St. Louis, Arenado is hitting more line drives (31%) and as a result is barreling balls more and hitting them harder than ever with an average exit velocity of 92.2 MPH, three points above his career average. One thing Arenado has struggled with so far is his strikeout rate which is at a career-high 21.7%.
Arenado made quite a stir on Rockies Twitter after his St. Louis home opener in which he hit a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning and received a curtain call to which Arenado said he had never received. Many fans took offense to his comment and the matter only became worse when Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright told reporters that Arenado had been trying to get the attention of the Cardinals for some time.
Adam Wainwright said over the last two years, Arenado would send Wainwright videos of him hitting to show to "Mo" (John Mozeliak) .... "when he was trying to get traded over here."— Katie Woo (@katiejwoo) April 8, 2021
Arenado makes his return to Coors Field on July 1st.
David Dahl (Non-tendered, signed by TEX)
After being a surprise non-tender at the beginning of the offseason, David Dahl signed with the Texas Rangers. With the Rangers, Dahl is still struggling to regain his 2019 form, slashing .218/.228/.327 in 55 at-bats while striking out 16 times and only walking ONCE so far.
Dahl is an everyday player for Texas but has been splitting time between left field and the DH. After reaching base in six of his first 10 plate appearances, Dahl endured an eight-game stretch where he went 2-for-29. Mostly in part to Dahl’s plate discipline issues, his 36.7% chase rate is in the eighth lowest (as in bad) percentile of the league.
Dahl will make his return to Coors Field on June 1st.
Jeff Hoffman (Traded to CIN)
Jeff Hoffman was the last remaining player from the Troy Tulowitzki trade before being moved to Cincinnati last November after struggling to find consistency at the MLB level. In that deal the Rockies received Robert Stephenson and spring training standout Jameson Hannah.
Coming into the year, Hoffman earned himself a starting rotation spot and has begun the year strong with a 2.93 ERA across three starts. What’s notable about Hoffman this season is that he’s revived his slider that he abandoned in 2019. So far, that slider’s been working for him. It’s got a 53% whiff percentage and has been his most effective putaway pitch.
Although he’s found early success, Hoffman’s xERA is 6.14 and 10.9 percent of his pitches are getting barreled, suggesting he’s been the benefactor of some lucky hit balls and great defense. Hoffman will have to keep fighting to keep his rotation spot from up-and-comer Tejay Antone.
Tony Wolters (Non-tendered)
After being non-tendered by the Rockies, Tony Wolters signed a minor league deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates for a shot at earning the backup catcher spot. After losing the position battle to Michael Perez at the end of spring training, Wolters opted out of the deal and signed with the Chicago Cubs to back up Wilson Contreras while Austin Romine recovered from a knee injury. Wolters appeared in three games for the Cubs and went 0-for-4 before being DFA’d last Wednesday. Wolters cleared waivers just yesterday and remains in the Cubs organization.
Decisions to move on from players will almost always be controversial. Especially when all four of these players had spent multiple years with the organization, fans had become attached to them. What do you think? Which of these players do you still feel the Rockies made a mistake in letting go (besides Nolan)? Or which of these players do you still believe in and root for from afar?
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Patrick Saunders draws an interesting comparison between this years team and the 2005 iteration of the Rockies. Although he argues that the 2005 team had promising young talent still finding their way in the big leagues with even more promise coming up through the system like Troy Tulowitzki, this years team doesn’t have that kind of upside or farm system.
Utility man Chris Owings may have been the Rockies hottest hitter before spraining his left thumb, now the injury appears to have worsen as he hits the 60-day IL. Thomas Harding reports that the injury happened in his final at-bat while facing Johnny Cueto in San Francisco. Filling Owings’ spot on the 40-man roster is right-handed pitcher Ashton Goudeau who was claimed off waivers from the Dodgers.
Are you over and done with the current Rockies already? Well, then start paying attention to the future by keeping up with the Rockies minor league teams. Prospects1500’s Michael Parnell gives you one player at every level in the Rockies organization to keep an eye on. You’re probably familiar with the guys at the upper levels but there’s some interesting names on the lower levels to get to know.
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