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My Rockies bullpen holiday wish list

Colorado Rockies news and links for Friday, December 23, 2022

With the holiday season in full swing and gift-giving taking center stage, many people – even if it’s mostly kids – make holiday wish lists. I figured I would make one for the Rockies to show what fans might like from them to end 2022 and give us something to look forward to in 2023. Maybe something a little more than a video of Dinger ending Lucas Gilbreath’s workout to go ice skating at McGregor Square (even though it’s hard not to get a kick out of Gilbreath’s likable cheesiness).

Any wish list could go off the rails quickly, so I am putting in the parameters that it has to be realistic. In other words, no major changes to the front office, but more along the lines of small changes like signing free agents who might be willing to sign on to play in Colorado and at a price the team will pay.

While the Rockies need help in many areas from the front office to the starting rotation to improving the offense, the organization seems to be building toward improvement through young prospects with hopes of earning more wins by 2025. Until then, it will be a period of growing pains to see what prospects pan out.

Even though the top of my list would be to trade C.J. Cron for pitching depth since the Rockies aren’t going to be contending in 2023 and he’s blocking space for Michael Toglia and Elehuris Montero, I am limiting this list to the bullpen. The Colorado bullpen had the worst ERA in MLB in 2022 at 4.85, but they did combine for a 4.2 fWAR, which ranks No. 12 in the league.

Even if a team is struggling, it helps to have a bullpen that can preserve some wins — even if the wins aren’t as many as you would hope for. As a fan, it can be downright depressing to watch leads vanish in late innings in repeat scenarios. With an offense that hasn’t yet improved from 2022, more games could be close and low scoring. It could really help morale — on the field and in the stands — and a path toward establishing a winning identity to have some more help in the bullpen to get a few more wins and blow fewer games in 2023.

It would also be really helpful to have another veteran in the bullpen to help as the younger arms find themselves. The loss of Carlos Estévez is going to hurt. He was a steady presence who got better as the year went on and provided a solid set-up in the eighth inning to pave the way for Daniel Bard. Bard himself is now proof of the possibility of success at Coors Field for aging relievers instead of Wade Davis, Bryan Shaw, and Jake McGee serving as the rule of inevitable calamity.

Brent Suter and Pierce Johnson could be great additions, but they won’t be enough to replace Estévez or hold down the fort until Tyler Kinley returns, which isn’t expected until the 2023 season is well underway. The FanGraph’s 2023 ZiPS projections released Thursday put the Rockies bullpen down 1.4 fWAR to 2.8 from 2022 (also due to a predicted dropoff from Bard). The bullpen needs help.

With that, let’s get to the wish list with the most coveted free agent bullpen arm first.

Andrew Chafin (LHP)

Age: 32

2022: 0.3 rWAR, 2.83 ERA and 1.169 WHIP in 57 1/3 innings with 67 strikeouts with the Tigers

Ground ball rate: 50% in 2022 and 49.7% over 9-year career

At Coors Field: 3.53 ERA in 48 games over 35 2/3 innings

Last Contract: He signed a 2-year, $13 million deal with the Tigers in 2022m but took the opt-out for 2023.

Appeal: His hair fits the Rockies mullet theme and he’s got great nicknames for Denver in “The Sheriff” and “Big Country.”

Brad Hand (LHP)

Age: 32

2022: 0.9 rWAR, 2.80 ERA and 1.333 WHIP in 45 innings over 55 games with 38 strikeouts with the Phillies

Ground ball rate: 40.5 % in 2022 and 41.8% in 12-year career

At Coors Field: 3.75 ERA in 16 1/3 innings over 10 games

Last Contract: He signed a 1-year, $6 million deal with Philadelphia in 2022.

Appeal: The three-time All-Star is a steady veteran with loads of experience to share with younger players and has pitched well at altitude.

Craig Kimbrel (RHP)

Age: 34

2022: 0.2 rWAR, 3.75 ERA and 1.317 WHIP in 60 innings over 63 games with 72 strikeouts with the Dodgers

Ground ball rate: 38.7% in 2022 and 38.4% in 12-year career

At Coors Field: 4.50 ERA in 14 innings over 14 games

Last Contract: He signed a 3-year, $43 million deal with Cubs in 2019 and was then traded to White Sox in 2021 and then Dodgers in 2022.

Appeal: Kimbrel posted 22 saves, but struggled with command and getting hit hard before he lost the closing role for the Dodgers in September. He could slot in nicely in the seventh or eighth inning with less pressure and his price will be reduced because of diminished effectiveness over the last two years.

Taylor Rogers (LHP)

Age: 32

2022: -0.7 rWAR, 4.76 ERA and 1.181 WHIP in 64 1/3 innings over 66 games with 84 strikeouts with the Padres and Brewers

Ground ball rate: 37.3% in 2022 and 46.4% in 7-year career

At Coors Field: 27.00 ERA in two innings (six runs in three appearances)

Last Contract: He signed a $7.3 million on a one-year deal with the Twins last year, then was traded to the Padres and then to the Brewers.

Appeal: The Rockies love to bring in Colorado natives and the Chatfield High School graduate could be the fourth on the staff (third in the bullpen). Despite not having a great record at Coors Field, the sample size is too small to draw conclusions. After a down year, he could have a lower price tag.

Wily Peralta (RHP)

Age: 33

2022: 0.7 rWAR, 2.58 ERA with 1.513 WHIP in 38 1/3 innings over 28 games with 32 strikeouts

Ground ball rate: 45.9% in 2022 and 49.6 in 10-year career

At Coors Field: 4.15 ERA in 17 1/3 innings over three starts

Last Contract: He signed a 1-year, $2.3 million deal with the Tigers.

Appeal: Peralta’s season was cut short due to a left hamstring injury that landed him on the IL in July and he was then designated for assignment by the Tigers in August. Detroit manager A.J. Hinch told the Detroit Free Press that Peralta didn’t fit in Detroit’s plans, but that Peralta “did nothing wrong.” His numbers would be a sight for sore eyes in the Colorado bullpen, even with altitude inflation.


Who is tops on your Rockies reliever wish list?

This poll is closed

  • 34%
    Andrew Chafin
    (57 votes)
  • 14%
    Brad Hand
    (24 votes)
  • 8%
    Craig Kimbrel
    (14 votes)
  • 8%
    Taylor Rogers
    (14 votes)
  • 5%
    Wily Peralta
    (9 votes)
  • 2%
    Someone else (please share in the comments)
    (4 votes)
  • 26%
    It doesn’t matter because I don’t believe the Rockies will bring in any free agents.
    (45 votes)
167 votes total Vote Now

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2023 ZiPS Projections: Colorado Rockies | FanGraphs

Dan Szymborski released his player projections and outlook for the Rockies for the 2023 season. Unsurprisingly, it’s not very positive due to the lack of substantive change. Perhaps more surprising is the fact that Szymborski calculates that Ryan McMahon will be the top position player with a 2.2 fWAR, followed by Kris Bryant at 1.7, Brendan Rodgers at 1.6, and Ezequiel Tovar at 1.6. Szymborski’s analysis is worth a read, especially his thoughts on the organization’s “imagination” or lack thereof.

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