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Kris Bryant is the bridge to better days ahead

Colorado Rockies news and links for Saturday, March 19, 2022

The signing of Kris Bryant to a seven-year, $182 million contract was a seismic move by the Colorado Rockies that not many expected or believed to come true. After three years of losing seasons and the soap opera storyline that followed Nolan Arenado’s contract extension and quick departure, there was plenty of reason to doubt Colorado committing to such a large deal — especially via free agency — so soon.

But the ink is dry and the deal became official on Friday, so Kris Bryant is set to be in Colorado until 2028. It’s a superstar commitment to a superstar player, one that will secure Bryant through his age 37 season. First, let’s look at the breakdown of his contract and the Rockies’ current payroll commitments through the deal.

Rockies Future Payroll

Year Bryant Salary Rockies Payroll Players signed
Year Bryant Salary Rockies Payroll Players signed
2022 $17M $120.93M 27
2023 $27M $110.63M 22
2024 $27m $67M 15
2025 $27M $44M 11
2026 $26M $39M 9
2027 $26M $26M 1
2028 $26M $26M 1
https://www.spotrac.com/mlb/colorado-rockies/yearly/payroll/

The immediate impact of adding Kris Bryant is substantial. The organization has expectations of competing for a playoff spot this season and believes adding Bryant — along with ancillary pieces José Iglesias and Alex Colomé — will get them over the hump. Skepticism of those expectations is valid, but the Rockies are objectively a better team now than they were a week ago. We’ll have to wait to see if that translates into at least a winning record over the course of the 2022 season.

But when you take a step back and look at the duration of this contract, it is apparent Bryant is Colorado’s answer for the long-term health of the ball club. His deal fits neatly between the late-stages of a roster that achieved back-to-back playoff appearances and the expected emergence of the future core of the franchise.

Charlie Blackmon, Kyle Freeland and Ryan McMahon are set to be Rockies through 2023, Germán Márquez through 2024. The Rockies will lean on Bryant to fill the void of that core left by the departures of Arenado and Trevor Story while the remainder of one of the most successful rosters in team history is still around.

But they’ll also have Brendan Rodgers evolving into an impact major league player beside him through 2025. Offensive reinforcements in Elehuris Montero, Ryan Vilade and Colton Welker are not far away plus Ryan Rolison and Ryan Feltner are waiting in the wings to help the pitching side of the big-league roster, as well.

Beyond that, however, is where the picture becomes much more vibrant. 2021 gave us a look at the state of the Rockies’ farm system, and the biggest takeaway was the talent emerging in the lower levels of the system.

Zac Veen and Drew Romo headlined a Fresno Grizzlies’ squad that went 74-41 and reached the Low-A West championship series. In August, Ezequiel Tovar joined Brenton Doyle, Chris McMahon and Helcris Oliveraz on a Spokane Indians team that finished 67-49 and also reached the championship series in the High-A West.

These are some the main faces of the future for the Colorado Rockies major league product, with more talent from the 2021 amateur draft and short-season Arizona Complex and Dominican Summer leagues behind them. This wave is projected to start filling out the major league roster in the middle of the decade and Kris Bryant is designed to be the connection between now and then.

“I’ve come from teams in Chicago, bringing a world series there and knowing what it takes. And we brought veterans in at that time and I want to be that veteran presence for the guys here. Hopefully they can lean on me for advice in big games and I’m looking forward to a full seven years here.”

“I see this as me being here for seven years and a lot of growth and opportunity to help a team get there and win a world series.”

This is where it begins to feel like there is a plan. If you look at the current roster and the competition facing the Rockies around their division and the National League, not buying the Rockies as legitimate competitors is understandable. Adding Kris Bryant doesn’t instantly patch every hole on a team that has posted three straight losing seasons and will lose two of their best players in free agency this off-season.

But there is talent on the horizon, and the Rockies are banking on Bryant to be an ambassador for that next generation as well. He may not be the same player when that time comes, but his accomplishments in the game are unique and it’s hard to pick a better external candidate to invest in building a winning culture around. That is the direction the organization is choosing, for better or worse. And for an organization that has been infuriatingly insular for far too long, it’s hard to be mad at that.

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Kris Bryant’s Enormous Payday Highlights Questions about the Rockies | FanGraphs

Jay Jaffe offers his summation of the Rockies’ signing Kris Bryant, with the help of Dan Szymborsk’s ZiPS projections. Jaffe highlights Bryant’s past accomplishments, the Rockies recent history with their star players on mega-deals, and the expectations of Bryant’s performance being positive for the first four-to-five years of the deal based on ZiPS. However, the overwhelming takeaway from the column is classifying the signing in the same unfavorable category as deals signed by Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera’s, Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Howard and Eric Hosmer.

Rockies 5, Diamondbacks 3

Coco Montes drove in the tying and go-ahead runs with a single in the top of the 8th inning to push the Rockies to a 2-0 start in the Cactus League. Zac Veen made his spring debut and did a little bit of everything - recording one hit, one walk, a stolen base and a run scored. Zach Neal was sharp in his first start, striking out three D-Backs with two hits and no walks allowed in three innings. Logan Cozart got the win in relief.

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