Only 175 days left until Colorado Rockies baseball is back. It was a long and often frustrating season for the Rockies. With a 68-94 final record tied for the team’s fourth worst finish with their 2004 and 2015 campaigns, there is no doubt the Rockies need to do better and get better. General Manager Bill Schmidt admitted in his breakdown of the 2022 season that the Rockies needed to do better and probably needed to add some pieces. The first wave of additions came in the form of the late-season rookie surge where potential future stars Ezequiel Tovar and Michael Toglia made their major league debuts. The second wave will come this offseason via trades and free agent acquisitions. Last season I put out my wishlist at Christmas and went 1-for-5 as the Rockies brought in Kris Bryant. This year I figured I’d get started a little bit early in sending my wishes to the cosmos for who I would like the Rockies to target this offseason in free agency.
Carlos Rodón, Starting Pitcher
He was on the list last year. He’s on the list this year. If he exercises his opt-out, Carlos Rodón will hit the free agent market, and the Rockies should seriously consider pulling the trigger on a big splash pitcher. The Rockies need to bolster a starting rotation that had just one pitcher with an ERA below 5.00 through the 2022 season. Anchors and team leaders Kyle Freeland and Germán Márquez have promised improvement for 2023, but the rest of the rotation is very much up in the air. Austin Gomber made the final start of the 2022 season but spent much of the year in the bullpen. Ryan Feltner has promise but also allows a home run pretty much every game. Chad Kuhl struggled in the second half and José Ureña showed some upside, but both are free agents.
The Rockies need a proven power strikeout pitcher, and I would love to add Carlos Rodón to the staff. Rodón had a fantastic season with the San Francisco Giants, putting up a 2.88 ERA—his second consecutive season with an ERA under 3.00—over 178 innings. He only gave up 12 home runs while striking out a whopping 237. For comparison, the Rockies team leader in strikeouts was Germán Márquez with 150 in 181 2⁄3 innings. Rodón also made 31 starts, something only Freeland and Márquez matched out of the Rockies rotation.
Adam Ottavino, Relief Pitcher
It was another difficult year for the Rockies bullpen, which was once again one of the worst units in baseball for the third straight year. Bullpen coach Reid Cornelius—should he return next season—will have the tall order of improving the bullpen while working with an extremely young group of pitchers like Gavin Hollowell and Chad Smith in his second season. With the likely retirement of Jhoulys Chacín and the potential departure of Carlos Estévez in free agency, the Rockies will be lacking in experienced bullpen arms that understand how pitching at altitude works.
Adam Ottavino with the Rockies
Enter Adam Ottavino, a reliever with a proven track record in Colorado. Ottavino is coming off of his best season since 2019. With the playoff-bound New York Mets he made 66 appearances and worked 65 2⁄3 innings while posting a 2.06 ERA. He walked just 16 batters while striking out 79. Sure he’s about to be 37 years old, but he’d fit right in with fellow elder statesman Daniel Bard.
Carlos Estévez, Relief Pitcher
WIld Thing, you make my heart sing. Carlos Estévez is set to be a free agent after being the second-longest tenured Rockies player on the 2022 squad behind Charlie Blackmon. Estévez is coming off of a very strong season out of the Rockies bullpen in which he finished with a 3.47 ERA over 57 innings and 62 appearances. He was a slow starter, definitely affected by the shortened spring training. In the first half he had a 5.17 ERA and struggled to find his strikeout stuff and velocity in the first few months of the season. However, he made everything groovy after the All-Star Break. In 26 second-half appearances Estévez posted a 1.40 ERA over 25 2⁄3 innings of work. Opponents slashed a meager .146/.206/.281 against him and he gave up just three home run before his season was unfortunately cut short due to an illness that landed him on the injured list. I would be thrilled if the Rockies decided to bring Estévez back next season to help lead our young bullpen.
Aaron Judge, Outfielder
Look, you know it’s probably not going to happen, and I know it’s probably not going to happen... but we can dream. Under Bill Schmidt’s own admission the team needs more power after hitting the fewest home runs since the expansion years of 1993 and 1994, failing to have a 30 home run hitter for the second year in a row, and failing to hit a grand slam for the first time in franchise history. Aaron Judge is a very big man who hits the ball very far. After his American League record 62 home runs this season, the perhaps-soon-to-be former New York Yankees slugger will be a hot commodity and demand a hefty sum in free agency. Watching Judge traumatize baseballs at altitude in Coors Field for 81 games a season would certainly be a draw.
Who would you like the Rockies to target in free agency? Let us know down in the comments to continue the discussion!
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Rockies beat writer Thomas Harding discusses the surprise emergence of rookie outfielder Sean Bouchard, who had an excellent September in his debut season. Bouchard put up excellent numbers with Triple-A Albuquerque, but really began to shine in his second big league stint in September. Drawing walks, hitting home runs, and playing a strong defensive left field, Bouchard may well have earned himself a roster spot in 2023.
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Arizona Fall League
It was a tough day in the desert for Rockies prospects as the Salt River Rafters were crushed by the Mesa Solar Sox in a lopsided affair. Rockies relief pitchers Finn Del Bonta-Smith and Blair Calvo struggled in their AFL debuts. Del Bonta-Smith allowed two home runs in his two innings of work as he gave up four earned runs on five hits. He did strike out three batters while walking zero. Calvo gave up six earned runs on four hits and two walks while working just 2⁄3 of an inning. At the plate the Rockies prospects didn’t fare much better. Warming Bernabel and Braxton Fulford both went hitless with a combined three strikeouts.
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