The next two weeks will be amongst the most important in recent Rockies history. Somewhere in the halls of Coors Field, interim-GM Bill Schmidt and other front office personnel will field calls on their franchise cornerstone Trevor Story. Those calls will determine the direction they decide to go and will set the path for the future of the Colorado Rockies.
In the meantime, let’s rewind the clock a bit and revisit last season’s trade deadline. The Rockies, who were hovering near .500 at the deadline, decided to buy and chase an expanded postseason spot. They addressed the bullpen and outfield by adding both Mychal Givens and Kevin Pillar.
It didn’t ultimately work but how much did it cost them? Let’s look back at each deal and find out.
Rockies received: RP Mychal Givens
Orioles received: 2B/SS Terrin Vavra, 1B Tyler Nevin and OF Mishael Deson
What the Rockies were looking for: At least a year and a half of above average late inning relief. The Rockies bullpen was a mess last season with a 6.77 ERA, 1.67 WHIP and an opponent batting average of .305. In six seasons with the Orioles, Givens held a 3.32 ERA and a 1.137 WHIP. Given that Givens did this at the hitter friendly confines of Camden Yards, the Rockies most likely saw this as an opportunity to bring in an established bullpen arm from the outside who could translate well to Coors Field.
What the Rockies got: So far, about a year of above average relief pitching. Although he got off to a slow start with the team last season, Givens has been as good as anyone could have realistically expected. In 36 innings for the Rockies he’s got a 4.00 ERA with a ballpark adjusted ERA+ of 147. Givens has done well enough that he could be a candidate to be traded once again at this year’s deadline. He’ll be a free agent at the end of the season.
What it cost: The Rockies gave up a couple of their top prospects in Terrin Vavra and Tyler Nevin. Nevin just made his MLB debut in late May but only played in two games where he went 1-for-5 before being sent back down. At Triple-A Norfolk, he’s slashing .255/.335/.485 with 12 home runs in about 200 at-bats. Meanwhile at Double-A Bowie, Vavra continues to open eyes with a .263/.413/.447 line including four home runs in 114 at-bats. MLB.com ranks Vavra as the Orioles number ten prospect which says a lot in one of the best farm systems in baseball.
The price for Givens felt a bit high at the time last year and continues to now. It’s still too early to fully judge the deal but Nevin and Vavra are still on the trajectory to become at least future contributors at the major league level. Even the 18-year-old Mishael Deson, who was the “player to be named later”, is off to a hot 9-for-25 start in the first two weeks of the Rookie Florida Complex League.
Rockies received: CF Kevin Pillar
Red Sox received: RP Jacob Wallace
What the Rockies were looking for: A true center fielder who could provide a spark both offensively and defensively for a run at one of the expanded postseason spots. The Rockies had lost David Dahl for most of the season and were struggling offensively. Before the trade, Pillar had hit .326 with six doubles in 12 career games at Coors Field.
What the Rockies got: A month’s line of .308/.351/.451, two home runs, -4 DRS, -2 OAA, a couple of nice catches, and a grand slam. Pillar was a boost offensively but was not the outfield wizard nor the Geraldo Parra-esque spark Jeff Bridich hoped he would be. In fact, Pillar publicly noted how much lighter the clubhouse felt after Arenado went on the IL.
What it cost: At the deadline, the news was that Pillar had been traded for another “player to be named later.” Those were flying around last deadline because any player that wasn’t at the alternate site had to be “named later.” So therefore Jacob Wallace kind of fell under the radar but he was the Rockies 2019 third round draft pick out of UConn. Wallace had an impressive first professional season at Low-A Boise in 2019 as he allowed just three runs in 21 innings with 29 strikeouts and nine walks. Now at High-A Greenville, Wallace is struggling with a 7.16 ERA.
Again, Wallace is just getting started in the minor leagues, who knows what he’ll be. But for a month’s worth of Kevin Pillar, the Rockies gave up on their third rounder just a year removed from an intriguing first pro season.
These moves were part of Jeff Bridich’s last run at the postseason and were evidence of his and the front office’s strong belief that the Rockies were just a couple of moves away from competing. He held firm to that belief all the way through to his eventual stepping down as GM.
Now Bill Schmidt is singing a similar tune as he told The Denver Post a few days ago, “I think there are pieces here to make us good. Do we need more? Yeah, we need more. I realize that. But it starts with good pitching and we have that in place.”
Bridich focused on the short term and bought at the deadline last year. Schmidt has a chance to focus on the future and sell this year but don’t be surprised if the Rockies continue to refrain from committing to a rebuild by either standing pat or taking an offer that tries to thread the needle between both the future and the present.
Last year’s deadline can remind us that the Rockies front office has and may continue to operate on their accord.
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The Rockies might not get back into the postseason chase but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a lot to do in the second half of the season. Patrick Saunders outlines a few things the Rockies should look to do including fully exploring trades for all players on expiring contracts. The Rockies players, coaches or entire organization also need to find a solution to their road struggles. Colorado will also need to continue to find out exactly what they have in their younger players like Ryan McMahon, Brendan Rodgers, Dom Nuñez, Sam Hilliard and Garrett Hampson.
Raimel Tapia continues to miss time with an illness. Bench coach/acting manager Mike Redmond says it’s nothing more than a general sickness. The Rockies have missed their leadoff hitter but meanwhile Brendan Rodgers seems to have established himself in the two spot in the lineup. Redmond says he and Bud Black really like Rodgers at that spot and we could be seeing him there more often. Austin Gomber could also make his return on Wednesday.
On the farm
In a tightly contested extra inning contest, the Skeeters edged out the Isotopes. Taylor Motter led the offensive charge with two home runs for three RBI and two walks. Motter raises his OPS to 1.132. He hit .346 with five home runs in June and now so far in July he’s kept it up with a batting average of .368 and a .510 on-base percentage with five more home runs. Brian Serven and Alan Trejo also contributed with some big knocks to drive in two runs each.
On Sunday, the Sea Dogs completed a six game sweep of the Yard Goats. Hartford led the game for seven and a half innings until Yoan Aybar allowed four hits and a walk for four runs. Willie Abreu had a nice 2-for-4 game with a home run, a double and four RBIs. Elehuris Montero stays hot in the month of July with a 2-for-4 day with an RBI. Montero is slashing .449/.517/.776 with five home runs thus far in July.
The Indians lost their 36th game of the season in a high scoring extra inning battle in Spokane. Starter Helcris Olivarez could not make out of the first inning as he allowed five runs on three hits and four walks. The entire Spokane pitching staff struggled with walks as they allowed a combined total of eleven walks. Offensively, eight of the nine players in the lineup recorded a hit. Hunter Stovall went 3-for-4 with a double, RBI and a walk.
The Grizzlies won their ninth consecutive game as they took down the Ports on Sunday. The Grizzlies are now a scorching 14-3 in their last 17 games. The youngsters have been firing on all cylinders offensively and that continued yesterday as five different players recorded multi-hit games. Second baseman/shortstop Eddy Diaz had four hits and a stolen base. Zac Veen went 2-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs and a walk. Grant Lavigne was 3-for-5 with a double. Julio Carreras scored the go-ahead runs with a two run blast in the eighth.
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