Interim general manager Bill Schmidt was recently on The Drew Goodman Podcast and broached a number of topics regarding the Colorado Rockies. One of the items discussed was the club’s desire to sign Jon Gray to an extension, keeping him in Colorado for the 2022 season and beyond.
“We’re optimistic that we’ll be able to work something out with Jon. Jon’s on record saying he’d like to be here. If it’s possible, we’d like to have Jon here past the end of this season. We made the decision through the trade deadline to see if we could try to work it out. I’m optimistic that we’ll get something here and keep Jon as a Rockie.”
The decision to pull Jon Gray off the market was one that was met with a fair amount of criticism from pundits and fans alike, but it was the direction the organization ultimately decided was best.
Few disagree on the principal idea of extending Gray. After all, this is a pitcher who has spent his entire career in Colorado and is a prominent fixture on the franchise’s all-time pitching leaderboards. But the practicality of signing Gray this close to free agency is what makes this decision so questionable.
Anthony Franco at MLB Trade Rumors explained the limited precedence of an extension for a pitcher of Gray’s caliber at this point in his career in his article this past June:
Extensions for starting pitchers this close to free agency are atypical, as one might expect. Over the past four seasons, only two starters with five-plus years of MLB service time signed extensions. Righty Sonny Gray inked a three-year, $30.5MM guarantee with the Reds in 2019. That was part of an agreement to facilitate a trade from the Yankees to Cincinnati, though, so it’s not a perfectly analogous situation. Righty Lance McCullers Jr., meanwhile, signed a five-year, $85MM deal with the Astros in March. McCullers is nearly two full years younger than Jon Gray and has a better career track record (even after adjusting for park), so the Rockies hurler would have a hard time commanding that kind of commitment.
As Franco points out, getting an extension signed at this point in the process would be unusual and only Sonny Gray and Lance McCullers Jr. are the closest examples of this coming to fruition. However, there’s nothing stopping the Rockies from coming to terms with Gray after he hits free agency either, so the proverbial door is open until Gray signs on the dotted line. While Gray has stated his willingness to stay in Colorado, it is safe to assume that he and his agent have a price in mind for his services based on what he could receive on the open market.
So if Gray does in fact reach the free agency period without a contract in place, what kind of deal could he get? Anthony Franco speculated that the five-year, $85 million dollar pact McCullers Jr. struck with Houston could be too high of a bar for Gray to clear, however, recent history suggests that it may not be such a far-fetched idea.
When looking at free agent deals signed in the past five off-seasons by pitchers at, or around, 30 years-old with five or six years of service time, there are a handful of pitchers with track records similar to Gray’s that could be used as comparisons to what Gray may be expecting.
Comparable Free Agent SP signings since 2015
There are plenty of factors that go into these deals beyond an encompassing statistic like ERA+, of course. To name a few, a player’s health history, underlying analytics, performance in the prior season, peers in his free agent class and number of clubs bidding on the market all contribute to these final values.
However, when looking at what pitchers like Patrick Corbin and Zach Wheeler were able to recently command on the open market, Jon Gray may be setting himself up for a larger pay day on his next contract than some might expect.
What do you think a contract extension between the Rockies and Gray should be?
How many years should Gray sign for?
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Don’t re-sign Gray
What average salary should Gray sign for?
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$15M - $20M
Don’t re-sign Gray
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Kyle Newman of The Denver Post shines a spotlight on the first professional season of top prospect Zac Veen. Drafted out of high school in Florida in 2019, Veen has burst onto the scene with a .302/.398/.528 slash through his first 80 games. Sitting in the top-ten in numerous offensive categories, Veen has also been stellar defensively, committing only two errors in across 49 games in right field and 22 in left field this season. As Newman points out, Veen hasn’t slowed down either, posting a 1.412 OPS through eight games in August.
Noah Yingling cites three Rockies who need to make a strong impression in the final weeks of the season. Versatile speedster Garrett Hampson is first on the list, hitting .165 since July 3. Joshua Fuentes, who has cooled off after a strong start to the season, is next. Fuentes was sent down to Albuquerque in July but is hitting just .179/.256/.231 with the Isotopes. Yency Almonte rounds out the list. Entering the season, Almonte had a career ERA of 3.89 but that that total has shot up by almost two full runs due to his struggles in 2021.
Danielle Allentuck puts a magnifying glass on the road woes of the Rockies this season. Following another shut-out loss on the road on Thursday, the team now has 15 shutout losses (all on the road) this season, which is the most in franchise history. In 14 of those games, they’ve had five or fewer hits which is the most since the 1972 Texas Rangers. Allentuck also points out that if the season were to end today, the disparity between their home record (38-21) and road record (13-43) would be the largest in league history.
On the farm
The Isotopes took care of the Skeeters on the road on Friday. Taylor Snyder started the scoring with a two-run bomb in the second inning to give Albuquerque the lead. Sugar Land would tie the score when they put up two runs in the fifth inning against starter Frank Duncan, his only two runs allowed in the ballgame. The Isotopes regained the lead for good in the sixth inning when a bases-load hit-by-pitch by Rio Ruiz was followed by a Ryan Vilade walk to bring across the fourth and fifth runs of the game. Justin Lawrence threw a clean ninth inning to close out the ballgame.
The Yard Goats fell to 29 games below .500 with their loss in Binghamton on Friday night. Rumble Ponies starter Cole Gordon had a superb outing, striking out ten Hartford hitters in five shutout innings while allowing just one hit. That lone hit came off the bat of Willie Abreu, who had three of the four Hartford knocks during the evening. Along with his double off Godron, Abreu also went deep in the seventh inning for his sixth home run of the season and the Yard Goats’ lone run of the ballgame.
Breiling Eusebio had a magnificent outing in a Spokane victory, allowing one run over five innings on just three hits while striking out seven Tri-City hitters. Hunter Stovall collected two hits and score two of the Indians’ five runs while Daniel Montano recorded three hits of his own with two runs driven in.
The Grizzlies’ offense put a crooked number on the scoreboard at home against Stockton. All nine starting Fresno hitters recorded at least one hit as the team collected 19 total hits in the game, 14 of which went for extra bases. Julio Carerras was the biggest star of the lineup, collecting two triples and home run on the evening while driving in four runs. Fresno has now won five of their last six games and sit at a 3 1⁄2 games ahead of the San Jose Giants for the top seed is the Low-A North Division.
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