This year’s Trade Deadline left Rockies fans understandably underwhelmed and disappointed. The Rockies held on to their valuable trade chips Trevor Story and Jon Gray. While the Rockies are making a push to sign Gray to an extension and have some distant hope they can somehow convince Story to stay, the status of C.J. Cron had been lost in the topic of conversation.
Cron has had a solid season with the Rockies and some assumed, myself included, that he would be a good piece to trade at the end of July and get a prospect or two. However, when the dust settled, Cron was still in purple and just doing his thing. The questions now remain of what the Rockies plan to do concerning Cron and if they should even consider bringing him back.
The status between Rockies and Cron
When the Rockies signed Cron to a minor league contract prior to Spring Training, it was implied that the job at first base was his to lose. The move paid off as he had a solid spring which allowed him to take over at first base, and that then has translated into a solid season where Cron has provided a slugging persona the Rockies have been missing at the position. His defense, while shaky to start the season, has been solid-average and has been a helpful piece to the Rockies’ defense.
Following the Trade Deadline, it appears that the Rockies have an interest in bringing Cron back. Bud Black talked with Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post on July 31 to offer some thoughts on Cron’s future with the team.
“We are going to explore it and talk to C.J. about his interest in coming back,” Black said, “there is potentially a fit there, for sure. I know that he has enjoyed his season here.”
Black then made the geographical point that often plays into the decisions of where players go to sign.
“He’s from the West; raised in Arizona and went to college in Utah, so I think there’s a comfort here and he enjoys being a Rockie. So we’ll see. I think it’s a definite possibility. We’ll see how the next two months play out.”
A case for more Cron
The team obviously loves him, and Cron has seemed to enjoy his time in Colorado as he is slashing .262/.370/.502 with 19 home runs and 63 RBI, both of which lead the team. He also set a franchise record by blasting three grand slams in a single season and tied Larry Walker for most RBI in a three-game series when he drove in 13 against the Miami Marlins.
Cron has also demonstrated an ability to get on base thanks to his ability to draw walks. Currently, he leads the team with 45 walks which is something he has tried to implement into his game and it’s a valuable asset that the Rockies need. He will still strike out, but he evens it out by being able to draw walks when needed along with putting the ball in play.
Cron has the potential to earn another year or two with the Rockies, to hold down the fort until the team is ready to hand the keys to a prospect like Michael Toglia. However, there are still some causes for concern that could make him expendable after the season.
A tale of two Crons
C.J. Cron has benefited greatly from playing in Colorado this season. It’s cliche to mention, but his home/road splits are drastically different this year. At home, Cron is batting .301/.402/.660 with 15 homers and 50 RBI. However, on the road, Cron has struggled a bit more, batting just .223/.339/.344 with 4 homers and 13 RBI. He has also struck out more on the road than at home, but perhaps you can’t hold this all against him.
The Road Rockies are very real this year, and everyone has struggled on offense away from Coors Field. Cron has made contact on the road, but it just hasn’t amounted to as much success as he has had at home. Plus it gets difficult to drive in runs when there are no runs to drive in. But the problems are still there, and if the Rockies aren’t able to help a player like Cron, or anyone on the roster for that matter, make that adjustment away from home then perhaps he is better off with another organization where those challenges are as prevalent.
What’s the plan?
Ultimately, the Rockies’ decision on Cron should come as a result of their plan going forward. The team has some decisions this offseason in how they plan to construct their roster. Trevor Story is almost guaranteed to leave, which opens up a spot at shortstop. The Rockies don’t have many options ready to fill that void, so Brendan Rodgers would be the likely candidate to slide over from second base and take over his natural position.
Seconds base is then the spot that needs to be filled. The Rockies could place Garrett Hampson there, but he hasn’t had a consistent output this season to warrant that type of lineup promotion. Perhaps the Rockies take a chance on a free agent signing at either middle infield position to complement the position they prefer Rodgers to play at.
Another option that is intriguing is to move Ryan McMahon back to second base and give Colton Welker the spot at third base. Welker had the setback this year of an 80-game suspension but has quickly gotten back into a groove in the minors. He is knocking on the door and 2022 could be the year they commit to him. If that was the case, then Cron could come back to play first until Toglia is ready.
There are other scenarios we won’t get into, but to put it in a nutshell, what happens in the outfield and with the universal designated hitter would also be important deciding factors. I wouldn’t mind seeing him wear purple for another season or two. Cron could be a valuable asset, but if there is no spot for him to play regularly like he may want to, then the Rockies may just be one stop of his career journey. Underlining all of this is one glaring fact, the Rockies need to have a vision and plan for their future and see if Cron is a contributing factor to that plan. Only then, can they decide if they want to stay in the “Cron Zone.”
Should the Rockies resign C.J. Cron?
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On the farm
Triple-A: Albuquerque Isotopes 4, Sugar Land Skeeters 3
The bullpen shined for Albuquerque as they combined to toss five innings of scoreless baseball against Sugar Land allowing just two hits. José Mujica labored through four innings of work, tossing 79 pitches in four innings of work, allowing three runs on six hits. The offense was aided by Sugar Land, who committed three errors, allowing Albuquerque to score three of their four runs.
Double-A: Binghamton Rumble Ponies 4, Hartford Yard Goats 1
Hartford’s offensive woes continued as they managed just one run on three hits, narrowly avoiding the shutout thanks to a Coco Montes double in the ninth. David Hill started on the mound and contributed a solid outing, scattering six hits over six innings of work. He allowed four runs, but only one was considered earned. The bullpen added two more scoreless innings, but the offense was stifled by Binghamton.
High-A: Spokane Indians 2, Tri-City Dust Devils 0
Helcris Olivarez put in a quality outing against Tri-City, tossing six scoreless innings while allowing just two hits to get his third victory of the season in Spokane. Olivarez struck out seven batters, but did struggle with command a bit, issuing five walks. Spokane scored a run in the first and second innings and that was all they needed. In the game, they tallied eight hits, with Grant Lavigne and Jack Blomgren both having multi-hit nights.
Low-A: Fresno Grizzlies 8, Stockton Ports 1
Sometimes the stars align and you are left with something wonderful. Playing under their Fresno Tacos moniker, the team formerly known as the Grizzlies scored eight runs in a dominant win over Stockton. Eddy Diaz had a three-hit night in the leadoff spot, while Cristopher Navarro blasted a three-run shot in the eighth for his first homer of the season. Case Williams turned in a strong performance on the mound, allowing one run on four hits in six strong innings of work. There is only one thing left to say about this game: taco’s.
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