The Colorado Rockies are 40 games below .500 since the start of the 2019 season, and their 177 losses are tied for seventh-most in that period. That may not be enough to convince the front office they are making a mistake by holding on to Trevor Story and Jon Gray for the rest of the season, despite the fact both will likely be wearing a new uniform next year.
This was the sentiment conveyed by interim GM Bill Schmidt when discussing the team’s future following the All-Star break:
“It will come down to this: If we are offered something in a trade, is it good for the Rockies? If an offer is made, we will evaluate it and see if it makes sense. But we are not forced to do anything.”
Schmidt is not wrong; the league does not mandate the Rockies to make a trade. That is also true of the other 29 teams in the league, yet nearly all are motivated to find a way to develop in the short or long term depending on where they’re at as an organization. A lack of motivation in Colorado could continue to stunt the Rockies growth.
In 2017, the Rockies were in the thick of the playoff picture. In a frenzy of deals that included names like Yu Darvish, Jose Quintana, Sean Doolittle, J.D. Martinez and Sonny Gray on the move, the Rockies elected to go with Pat Neshek and Jonathan Lucroy as their reinforcements for a playoff push. To their credit, both played well in their half-season with the Rockies, however it was not enough as the Rockies were eliminated by Martinez’s Arizona Diamondbacks. Arizona would then get eliminated by Darvish’s Dodgers, who would move on to the World Series.
In 2018, the Rockies were once again in striking distance of the playoffs and in a spot to maximize their opportunity at contending for a championship. Manny Machado, Brad Hand, Zach Britton, Mike Moustakas and Nathan Eovaldi all changed uniforms in deals, but the Rockies once again mostly sat out the deadline and came home with a discounted Seunghwan Oh and a nearly-retired Matt Holliday instead. The Rockies’ core would push on with what they had and make it to the division series only to lose to Moustakas’ Brewers, who would fall to Machado’s Dodgers, who would be beaten by Eovaldi’s Red Sox.
The Rockies had their shots to contend for a trophy but didn’t take many chances along the way. Three years later, the shoe is on the other foot but the attitude remains the same. The face of the franchise during those runs, Nolan Arenado, is long gone and two more homegrown stars will likely depart next season as well. First baseman C.J. Cron and reliever Mychal Givens are also on expiring contracts and could be attractive pieces for another club, too. However, instead of pursuing a way to improve the franchise’s long-term future by initiating trade talks about these players, the front office seems content on standing pat and letting things play out as they are.
“I think we can find a good player in the draft, so we are not just going to give away players,” Schmidt said. “If people have an interest in our players, that’s good. But if you want somebody, make us an offer.”
A quote tied to Trevor Story’s situation and the possibility of a compensatory pick if he departs via free agency, Schmidt conveys there’s no reservations on the Rockies’ end letting things play out that way. After all, as Schmidt explains, Arenado, Story, Charlie Blackmon and Ryan McMahon all came from that draft range.
(Of note, the current collective bargaining agreement expires on December 1st, 2021 and a new agreement could alter the compensatory draft pick structure. But, that’s a discussion for another day.)
Yes, there have been hits in the second and comp rounds of the draft for Colorado. But, for every Major League regular like McMahon, there are a number of Alex Blalog’s (taken in the second round the year before McMahon) who never make it to the big leagues, or Ryan Castellani’s (second round the year after McMahon) who don’t exactly work out as planned.
The trade path is no guarantee either. For every prospect dealt for a rental at the deadline that eventually thrives (Yordan Alvarez, Josh Hader, Eduardo Rodriguez and Willy Adames, to name a few recent examples) there are numerous other players included in those same deals who never pan out.
The biggest problem, however, is that the Rockies simply don’t appear to be interested in initiating trades. There hasn’t been much of an indication on who, or what, they want if they are in fact looking at the market. Rather, it appears the organization simply expects to be approached about their players with the hope a team will offer an overpayment they won’t be able to turn down. Not every team will be willing to part with what the Rockies may want, but a standard-functioning front office would at least suggest continuous dialogue with other organizations to gage what they’re willing to trade away. That would put the Rockies in a healthier position to negotiate obtaining quality assets for their current players.
“At the end of the day, it will be about what we can get back. We are not a farm system for other people.”
The Rockies seem to believe they will get a compensatory draft pick or two for their impending free agents, and unless someone blows them away with an offer before the end of the month, that is the deal they are willing to accept. This was a possibility I discussed in May and here we are, two weeks before the deadline, watching the organization plan to idly stand by once again and hope this time works out better than the last.
All the while, the organization will spend their time concerned with the “farm system for other teams” stigma. But, when key players are planning to depart through free agency anyways, what is the difference?
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On a positive note within the community, the Rockies and Major League Baseball donated $60K to It Takes a Village on July 8th to drive their community impact. The non-profit organization provides an array of free health care services to communities of color that have been disproportionately affected by health and social issues. The donation will go toward purchasing a van, which will allow the organization to bring their services to the community more effectively.
Zac Veen had a heck of night on Thursday, going 4-4 with two walks, two home runs, four runs scored an a stolen base against the Stockton Ports. Veen, the top prospect in the Rockies system and the #39 overall prospect on MLB’s top 100 list, has raised his OPS to .826 and leads all levels of farm system in stolen bases with 27.
On the Farm
Austin Gomber made his first rehab outing for the Isotopes on Friday. He threw 62 pitches in four innings, allowed three runs and struck out four Skeeters without issuing a walk. Tate Scioneaux had his best Triple-A performance yet, throwing two perfect innings in relief with four strikeouts. Rio Ruiz recorded two hits, blasting a solo shot in the fourth for his sixth homer of the season.
The Yard Goats have now lost nine of their last ten games, falling at home to the Fisher Cats for the third time in the series. Nate Harris threw well in his second start of the season, allowing one run over five innings. Unfortunately former Texas Longhorns pitcher Nick Kennedy did not fare as well. Entering the eighth inning with a 2-1 lead, Kennedy surrendered four earned runs and ended up taking the loss. Jameson Hannah accounted for two of Hartford’s six hits.
Spokane recorded the lone win of the day for the Rockies’ minor league affiliates, beating the Emeralds at home. Michael Toglia and Aaon Schunk went deep and each drove in three runs for the Indians. Niko Decolati also had two knocks and drove in two runs in the victory. Will Ethridge picked up the victory. He carried a no-hitter through the first four innings and finished with a line of six innings pitched, allowing two runs on six hits while recording two walks and three strikeouts.
Low-A: Fresno Grizzlies, Stockton Ports (PPD-COVID-19)
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