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Trade deadline 2021: Yes, you have a right to be upset

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Rockies news and links for Saturday, July 31, 2021

The hours leading into the Friday deadline was a wild ride for baseball fans. The Yankees showed they are ready to push for the playoffs by adding Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gallo. Trea Turner and Max Scherzer landed in Los Angeles, sending seismic waves of envy felt all around the league. The White Sox and Mets moved with the intention of securing their division leads by plucking Craig Kimbrel and Javier Báez from Chicago. It was a blizzard of moves that saw major swings taken by teams in the hunt.

But the sellers did not come away empty handed, either. The Washington Nationals and Cubs decided now was the time to commit to a fire-sale and came away with numerous top-100 prospects and former first round picks. The Texas Rangers restocked their farm system with four pieces in the Gallo trade while the Twins sold high on their ace in a lost season and walked away with the fifth overall pick from the 2020 draft for their troubles.

All the while, the Rockies stayed idle. It was extremely questionable by pundits across the sport while also being entirely unsurprisingly by followers of the team. The clock has been ticking for well over a year on Trevor Story and Jon Gray but the Rockies did not find a good enough reason to move them by the time the countdown ended. In fact, the Rockies seemed to use their final hours to open up contract extension negotiations with Gray while remaining unwilling to budge on it’s marked-up price tag for Story. No team bit on the demand for Story and Gray seems to be back in the stages of possibly re-signing.

C.J. Cron, Daniel Bard and Mychal Givens were less attractive names on expiring contracts, but still fit the mold as a rental piece to sell. Cron stayed put and Bard was never even discussed with other teams while Givens was dealt to Cincinnati in the team’s lone trade. To be fair, for two months of Givens the Rockies did acquire a decent lottery ticket in Noah Davis. They also re-acquired Case Williams from the Reds, whom they originally drafted in 2020 and traded along with Jeff Hoffman in the deal that netted Robert Stephenson this past off-season.

So out of five obvious candidates to move, the Rockies pulled the trigger on one and half of the return was a player the team just drafted less than a year ago. Story, Gray, Cron and Bard will all finish the season in Colorado and it is easy to envision all choosing to leave the organization this off-season.

But, at least for Story and maybe Gray, there is the possibility of the qualifying offer! This path can keep the players around for another year at a median salary if accepted or reward the franchise with a pick in the 32-36 range in the 2022 draft if it is declined by the player. This is the ace in the hole for the Rockies and they are not shy about admitting it.

And that’s it, the deadline has come and gone and the Rockies, as they did when they had the chance to be buyers in 2017 and 2018, remained adverse to risk and elected to mostly hold on to what they have.

There may be a world where Jon Gray and Trevor Story re-sign, and if that happens then that is wonderful, but it looks extremely likely that at least Story is gone after this season. And if one, or both, departs via free agency after rejecting a qualifying offer from Colorado, then the competitive balance draft pick is the consolation prize.

That draft pick may be used to select the next Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story or Charlie Blackmon, but it more easily could turn out to be the next Robert Tyler, Forrest Wall or Eddie Butler, too. That outcome remains in the Rockies control, though, and that’s the way they prefer it. This comes across as having always been Plan A for the franchise and that’s why, as a supporter of the Colorado Rockies organization, it is perfectly reasonable to be frustrated and unhappy with how the deadline transpired.

After the backlash the organization has received from disastrous free agent signings and the drama of the Nolan Arenado trade, the Rockies seemed simply unwilling to risk having to wear the “loser” label on another deal. You can’t lose the trades you don’t make though, I suppose. But as the organization sits in the basement of the division, holding on to it’s assets out of fear of not getting enough in return for them even though those assets are likely to willingly depart from the franchise in the near future, it’s hard to see how they believe they’re coming out on top.

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Trevor Story, Jon Gray stay with Rockies as trade deadline passes | The Denver Post ($)

Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post provides his coverage of the Rockies inactivity from the trade deadline and a few quotes from the Bill Schmidt press conference after the deadline. The Chicago White Sox, Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays, among others, all talked with the Colorado front office about acquiring Story, according to Saunders, but the Rockies’ asking price never budged so no deal was ever able to be reached. The handling of the situation and it’s outcome did not leave Story pleased:

“I’m confused and I don’t have really anything good to say about the situation and how it unfolded,” Story told The Denver Post.

Saunders also touched on preliminary talks on an extension for Jon Gray cropping up in the past few days. Although Gray has maintained he is open to an extension, there is nothing to indicate the two sides are close as Schmidt previously acknowledged:

“We’d like to (re-sign) Jon,” interim GM Bill Schmidt said two weeks ago. “If it’s possible, we’d like to work something out with Jon. But it always comes back to this: It takes two to tango.

“We can sit here and say, ‘We’d like to keep Jon,’ but it also depends on Jon and his representatives. So if they want to go in a different direction, then so be it.”

On the farm

Triple-A: Albuquerque Isotopes 10, Salt Lake Bees 4

The Isotopes’ bats were hot on Friday as they took their second straight from Salt Lake to start their series. Alan Trejo carried led the way for Albuquerque, collecting four hits with three runs scored and finished a home run short of the cycle. Greg Bird collected three hits of his own, including a solo shot in the eighth inning for his 14th long-ball of season. Taylor Motter also did what Taylor Motter does best, hitting a two-run blast for his 24th of season. Motter now has 12 bombs in his last 11 games and has hit 15 total in the month of July.

Double-A: Binghamton Rumble Ponies 3, Hartford Yard Goats 1

The Yard Goats lost a heartbreaker to the Rumble Ponies, leading 1-0 until the ninth when Binghamton put up three runs to steal the game. Nick Bush pitched an excellent game for Hartford, carrying a shutout into the ninth inning before allowing back-to-back hits to begin the final frame and giving way to reliever Nate Griep, who was unable to preserve the lead. The Yard Goats’ bats were no match for the arms of the Rumble Ponies as they struck out 14 times. Coco Montes and Elehuris Montero each had two of the team’s five hits in the game. Montero’s first hit was a solo shot in the first inning, his 20th homer of the season and the lone run for Hartford on Friday.

High-A: Spokane Indians 15, Vancouver Canadians 11

Helcris Olivarez got roughed up but the Spokane offense backed him up as they beat Vancouver on Friday. Olivarez could not escape the third inning, surrendering nine runs, eight hits and five walks in 2 23 innings. A Michael Toglia grand slam in the first started the comeback as the Indians’ offense chipped away at the deficit. In a tie game in the sixth inning, Daniel Cope delivered a grand-slam of his own to put the home team ahead. Niko Decolati was a perfect 5-5 at the plate while Isaac Collins collected four hits and scored three runs.

Low-A: Fresno Grizzlies 3, Lake Elsinore Storm 0

The Grizzlies hurled a combine shutout to take down the Storm. Tony Locey made his third start of the season, throwing the first 4 23 before Juan Mejia, Anderson Bido and Gavin Hollowell were brought in to complete the shutout. The pitching core combined to allow only four hits while striking out nine Lake Elsinore hitters. Drew Romo had two hits, the biggest being a single in the sixth inning that, along with a throwing error, brought in two runs to break the scoreless tie to that point. Ezequiel Tovar swiped his 21 stolen base of the season in the win.

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