Now that free agency has begun, rosters have been protected, and contracts are being tendered, the hot stove continues to heat up across the league. As Rockies fans, we’ve grown accustomed to offseasons full of little to no action, fairly inconsequential action, or moves that make you question the reality that we are living in now. Thirsty for content, we begin to speculate and theorize, like many fans do, of things we would like to see the team do.
Last Friday, Joelle Milholm’s Rockpile talked about the fact that the Rockies probably need to trade C.J. Cron in order to continue moving toward the future. Today I hope to build off of that idea and peruse the market for a team that could use C.J. Cron and benefits the Rockies with a return.
The Cleveland Guardians stunned the baseball world by not only being the youngest team in baseball this year but storming into the playoffs until an ultimate showdown against the New York Yankees in the division series, a series they came close to winning. If you watched that series, you likely heard Bob Costas reiterate time and time again that the Guardians didn’t hit many home runs in 2022. It’s a part of that team’s makeup that could use some addressing this offseason, enter C.J. Cron.
Cleveland saw Josh Naylor and Owen Miller split time at first base. Naylor clubbed 19 home runs and had a .833 OPS while Miller had a respectable .250/.312/.377 line with five home runs and 32 RBI. The DH role was not as effective, hitting just eight home runs and batting .217/.276/.309 thanks to the efforts of 14 different players filling as the DH for at least one plate appearance. Cron’s 29 home runs in 2022 would have been tied for most on the team with José Ramírez, and provide some much-needed boost for the reigning AL Central champs for a reasonable one-year cost.
In return, the Rockies could look to obtain some decent pitching depth from the Guardians' seemingly endless supply of quality pitchers they can churn out year after year.
The Cron Zone..... IN SPACE
The reigning World Series champions are currently without their staple at first base. While they likely have some sort of prospect they could bring in or one of the notable free agents available, I propose that C.J. Cron could be a perfect stop-gap for the Houston Astros in 2023. Yuli Gurriel had a bit of a down year at first base for the Astros while trade acquisition Trey Mancini didn’t contribute much offensively. Both are free agents, and while the Astros could hand the keys over to J.J. Matijevic, Cron may be what they are really looking for.
The Astros first basemen batted a combined .236/.285/.371 with 14 home runs in 2022. The Astros already lost out on Anthony Rizzo, and could still pursue Josh Bell, or even Jose Abreu, but Cron would be the cheaper option that frees up money to retain Justin Verlander or bring in Wilson Contreras. Cron’s offensive and defensive capabilities could fit in well with the Astros, especially at home with a bit of a better target in left field to hit home runs.
Plus, the Astros have plenty of well-drafted players and the Rockies could probably not go wrong acquiring some pitching or position players.
Turn Wrigleyville into the Cron Zone
The Chicago Cubs feel poised to make some splashes this offseason as they try to figure out their identity again. Like these other teams on this list, Chicago did not get much production out of first base. The Cubs got a .223/.288/.339 line out of the position with 14 homers and 65 RBI, in addition to 172 strikeouts to just 49 walks. Those last two stats fall in line with Cron’s plate approach, but his 102 RBI along with the power numbers and slash line more than make up for it.
Cron is an established position player on both sides of the ball and that is something the Cubs could look to build upon. He provides some support behind Seiya Suzuki and provides a veteran voice to a somewhat inexperienced offensive squad. Now, this fit isn’t as solid as some others you may find across the league, but the move opens up some space for the Rockies' youngsters while giving the Cubs a bat that could help them improve, or turn into a trade chip at the deadline.
The return likely wouldn’t be anything overly significant for the Rockies, but they could probably acquire some sort of prospect diamond in the rough or even a major league-ready player of some sort to help build depth.
Consider the possibilities
These are just a few of the ideas of partners that came to mind as I consider the trade possibilities. Nearly half the league would likely benefit from adding Cron to their lineup without having to give up too much. He won’t command a franchise-changing return for the Rockies, but the point of the move is to build some depth, free up some money for other improvements, and make room for guys like Elehuris Montero and Michael Toglia to get more playing time.
As much as I love having C.J. Cron in purple, trading him is the type of move the Rockies need to consider making this off-season.
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In case you missed it yesterday, the Rockies made their second trade of the season, acquiring Nolan Jones from the Cleveland Guardians in exchange for Juan Brito. Brito was eligible for the Rule-5 draft and with the roster crunch of yesterday’s protection deadline, the Rockies chose to part with Brito and bring in another infielder/outfielder who is Major League ready.
In other news, old friend Tyler Anderson earned himself a nice little payday after rejecting a qualifying offer from the Dodgers. Anderson signed a three-year $39 million contract with the Angels.
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