It’s the middle of November, the offseason is in full swing, and teams are beginning to make moves to start forming next season’s roster. The Rockies are off to a hot start making moves, re-signing players, and hiring new coaches. In case you missed last week transactions, here is a quick overview of the moves made.
The Rockies announced today the following roster moves:— Rockies Club Information (@RockiesClubInfo) November 9, 2022
- C Dom Nuñez has been claimed off waivers by San Francisco
- OF Ryan Vilade has been claimed off waivers by Pittsburgh
- LHP Ty Blach, LHP Helcris Olivarez and OF Wynton Bernard have been outrighted off the 40-man roster.
The Colorado Rockies announced today that they have agreed to terms with RHP José Ureña on a one-year contract with a club option for 2024.— Rockies Club Information (@RockiesClubInfo) November 12, 2022
In addition to the transactions and signings last week, the Rockies traded Sam Hilliard the week before in exchange for a minor league pitcher. For a more in-depth look at last week’s moves, you can read Evan Lang’s recap here. At the time of writing this, the Rockies 40-man roster sits at 32 players, which is important for next month’s Rule 5 Draft at the Winter Meetings. With last week in mind, let’s take a look at where the roster stands now and what the next couple weeks might look like from the front office.
The Rockies added five extra spaces for their 40-man roster after outrights and waiver claims, and the trade of Sam Hilliard gave another space available. This is important right now with the Rule 5 Draft less than a month away and the front office will need to make decisions on protecting players by adding them to the 40-man roster. One of the biggest decisions before the Rule 5 Draft is Grant Lavigne, the first baseman prospect that has been impressive during the Arizona Fall League lately. Lavigne’s case for being protected from the Rule 5 Draft is interesting with his recent play this past season, but the Rockies currently have five first baseman on the 40-man roster already. Right now, the Rockies have eight open roster spots to add prospects and for any free agent signings that will come as the offseason progresses. The outfield position has the least amount of players on the roster with only five players (six including Charlie Blackmon, who is listed as a DH) on the depth chart that roam the large outfield of Coors Field. With the off season still young, expect the front office to try add some more players to the roster and fill the final available slots on the 40-man roster.
Although the Rockies have available positions on the 40-man roster, the payroll may limit what the front office can do in the open marketing. At the moment, the Rockies payroll is estimated to be $157 million for the 2023 season, up from $136 million in 2022 according to FanGraphs. Next season, 11 players are already guaranteed their salary, with Kris Bryant’s $28 million leading the way and followed by Charlie Blackmon’s $15 million. Altogether, these 11 players are guaranteed nearly $20 million next season.
Five players will be eligible for arbitration this offseason, including Gold Glove winner Brendan Rodgers, Austin Gomber, and mid-season pick up reliever Dinelson Lamet. FanGraph estimates that arbitration eligible players will add nearly $13 million to the payroll total.
In addition to the current players on the active roster, the Rockies have two other payments that will affect the payroll. First, Nolan Arenado is still owed $16 million next season as part of the trade that sent him to the Cardinals. This means that Arenado — despite not being on the roster for a third-straight year next year,— will be the Rockies second-highest paid player in 2023. Second, the Rockies will receive $4,333,333 cash from the Toronto Blue Jays as part of the trade that brought Randal Grichuk to Denver last offseason.
If the estimate for next season’s payroll is correct, it will be be the club’s largest payroll in the franchise’s history. 2019 was the next-highest, with an Opening Day payroll at $146 million, which is over ten million more than next season’s projection. The Rockies will have a lot of money coming off the books after the 2023 season. Charlie Blackmon’s $15 million and Randal Grichuk’s $10 million will gone and both will be free agents. Add in CJ Cron’s $7.5 million, the Rockies will clear up $32 million following next season. Nolan Arenado will officially be off the payroll after paying the $50 million over the last three years to send him out to the Cardinals.
Unless the Monforts are willing to open up the pocket books even more this season, it may be unlikely for the Rockies to make a big splash in free agency.
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Zac Veen has had an impressive fall for the Salt River Rafters (see the article below), making the National League Fall Star team. The stat that sticks out the most for author Jacob Resnick is Veen’s ability to steal bases. Despite only playing 30 games this fall compared to 50 in AFL seasons past, Veen has swiped 16 bases to be in the top ten for that stat in the history of the AFL. Veen had a stolen base rate of .75 per game, which is best ever in the AFL, beating out former Rockie Eric Young Jr. and Chase d’Arnaud who had .65 per game in 2008 and 2009 respectively. In his first two professional season, Veen has stolen 91 bases so far, which is ideal for a hitter with a .444 OBP this fall.
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The Arizona Fall League has come and gone already, meaning it’s time to award the best players for the fall. Rockies’ prospect Zac Veen showed why he is considered the franchise’s top prospect by putting together a clinic at the plate and on the bases for the Rafters. Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com was also impressed and awarded Zac Veen the offensive player of the year, slashing .333/.444/.444 while adding 15 walks and going 16/18 in stolen base attempts. Despite a rough end to the 2022 season after being promoted to Double-A Hartford, Veen made the adjustments to have a great fall season.
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Last Friday, the Rockies resigned starting RHP José Ureña to a one year, $3.5 million contract. Ureña joined the Rockies midseason after the Brewers designated him for assignment and signed off waivers. Despite a rough end to the season, Ureña can force groundballs at a 50.5% rate last season, a trait crucial to success at Coors Field. Despite the addition of Ureña to the middle-to-back end of the rotation, the Rockies still have question marks for the rotation.
Austin Gomber, the lefty acquired in the infamous Arenado trade, was sent to the bullpen after a rough start in the rotation last season, leaving his position in the rotation up in the air. Antonio Senzatela is still recovering from an ACL tear that will have him out until at least May at the earliest. Other options like Chad Kuhl and Peter Lambert are still question marks. A tough end of the season for Kuhl resulted in a 9.00 ERA in his last ten starts and Lambert recovering from an injury that kept him out of action in 2022. The Rockies still have find answers to their rotation this offseason before next season comes around.
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