Now that Dusty Baker finally has his long-deserved managerial championship, the 2022 MLB season is officially concluded and it’s time to shift focus to the off-season. The Colorado Rockies have a long list of needs to address this off-season, but there is plenty of time to cover the myriad of issues with the current roster. Today, let’s start by focusing on starting pitching.
Germán Márquez and Kyle Freeland are a fine beginning for a major league staff, but Antonio Senzatela’s August knee injury will likely keep him out until at-least the second half of the season. Until then, Ryan Feltner and (presumably) Austin Gomber will anchor the back-end of the rotation with the options for the fifth starter still up in the air.
There are internal depth options that could provide a solution, but they are far from sure-bets. For years Peter Lambert and Ryan Rolison have had a seat reserved for them but have been noticeably absent due to injury. After both suffered lost seasons in 2022, expecting either to finally become a part of the rotation from the outset of next year seems like an ill-advised course of action.
So reinforcements are once again needed. The Colorado front office already acknowledged this last season with the acquisitions of Chad Kuhl and José Ureña and could conceivably bring both back in 2023. While each had their moments in purple pinstripes, they are not the only options on the market that could fill a short-term role for the organization. With that in mind, let’s look at five free agent starters that could bolster the Rockies rotation without the massive commitment other top-tier options should command.
2022 season: 32 GS, 196 ⅓ IP, 2.89 ERA, 169 K, 69 BB, 136 ERA+
Arguably, no pitcher entering free agency earned themselves a larger payday in 2022 than Martín Pérez. A former top prospect as a farmhand of the Texas Rangers, Pérez largely underwhelmed in his first ten seasons in the majors. After short stints with the Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox, he produced a career-year in his return to Texas last season with a sub-3.00 ERA over the fifth-most innings in the American League.
A soft-tossing lefty that featured his sinker predominantly last year, Pérez will be 32 next season and has a limited track record of success. That profile could keep him within Colorado’s price-range, albeit as the high-end option and likely on a multi-year commitment.
2022 season: 13 GS, 75 ⅔ IP, 4.04 ERA, 65 K, 15 BB, 101 ERA+
Fresh off a long postseason run with the Philadelphia Phillies where he tossed seven consecutive scoreless appearances out of the bullpen, Zach Eflin is set to hit the market before his age 29 season. Having worked as a starter for most of his career, Eflin was moved to the bullpen during the stretch run last season to positive results. While transitioning to the bullpen may leave some questions to his future role, his track record suggests he can still be stretched out as a starter.
Like Pérez, Zach Eflin is a sinker-baller that will likely demand a multi-year investment, but has posted an ERA+ at or above league-average each of the last four seasons.
2022 season: 0 GS, 13 ⅓ IP, 13 K, 8 BB, 282 ERA+
A former ace for the Detroit Tigers, Boyd signed a one-year deal with the San Francisco Giants after undergoing surgery in September of 2021. Unfortunately, Boyd suffered a setback with a flexor strain in June and never made it to the mound with the Giants. He signed with his hometown Seattle Mariners after his release and ended the season pitching out of the bullpen for the M’s.
Although his career suggests little more than a league-average hurler, Boyd does offer appeal as a harder-throwing lefty with a wipeout slider and a knack for racking up strikeouts. After missing most of the 2022 season, the cost for gambling on him will likely not be substantial.
2022 season: 24 GS, 158 ⅓ IP, 3.35 ERA, 102 K, 33 BB, 118 ERA+
A longtime ace for the Cincinnati Reds, Cueto has aged well in the second half of his career. After his lucrative deal with the San Francisco Giants expired, Cueto signed a one-year pact with the Chicago White Sox last year and produced his best season since 2018.
Entering his age-37 season, Cueto’s velocity and strikeouts are down significantly from his peak seasons. But he still avoids hard contact and walks while getting hitters to chase outside of the strike zone. It may not be the most electric option on the market, but the Rockies could do much worse at the back of the rotation.
2022 season: 18 GS, 97 ⅔ IP, 4.24 ERA, 85 K, 44 BB, 95 ERA+
Sporting a four-pitch mix, Lorenzen produces a 50% groundball-rate and has a high-spin profile with multiple fastballs to go with a slider and changeup for his off-speed offerings – each being utilized around 20% of the time last season.
Injuries have been a concern in his career, which prompted the Cincinnati Reds to use him out of the bullpen for most of his career. However he did spend the entire season in the rotation for the Los Angeles Angels last season, but still missed two months in the middle of the season with a shoulder strain. While this is certainly a red-flag for any team, this could also be what keeps his price tag modest enough for the Rockies.
Which pitcher would you be most interested in the Rockies signing?
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None/Somebody else (let us know who in the comments)
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The Rockies didn’t wait long to make their first transaction of the off-season, sending OF Sam Hilliard to the Atlanta Braves for RHP Dylan Spain. Hilliard hit 29 HR and posted a .717 OPS in 214 games with the Rockies. Spain was a 10th round selection by the Braves out of the University of Hawaii in the 2021 draft. He had a 5.30 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 56 IP with the High-A Rome Braves last season.
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Pebble Report: 2022 Arizona Fall League
It was another tough week overall for the Salt River Rafters, who lost four of five to bring their record to 11-16. On the mound, Blair Calvo and Stephen Jones each appeared in two games out of the bullpen while Fineas Del Bonta-Smith was called upon once. Each pitcher surrender one earned run while Calvo struck out four in his two innings.
The week concluded with the AFL Fall Stars Game on Sunday with Grant Lavigne and Zac Veen selected for the National League in a 9-3 victory. Veen led off for the NL, hitting a double and drawing two walks while scoring a game-high three runs. Lavigne came off the bench for eventual game MVP Matt Mervis of the Chicago Cubs and drew a walk in his lone plate appearance.
AFL Hitters (Season)
AFL Pitchers (Season)
|Fineas Del Bonta-Smith||9/2||16.2||16/12||18||7|
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