As Rockies owner Dick Monfort stepped forward to introduce his new player acquisition on Friday, he grabbed the microphone and said, “So many things about (signing Kris Bryant) feel really, really right. … He can help us win that elusive World Series.”
Monfort and the Rockies have a lot of work to do to make that statement true.
When the news broke that Kris Bryant would be signing a massive contract with the Colorado Rockies, it was met with a wide variety of reactions. Some were overjoyed with the signing, some were content, some were angry, and the majority of the baseball world was just plain baffled by the move.
A team in the Rockies’ position really has no tangible reason for going out to sign a big-name star to their team. They are just one season removed after pushing away not one, but two franchise stars, along with losing a franchise starting pitcher to the Rangers for nothing. But someway, somehow, the Rockies got their man for the foreseeable future, despite there being plenty of other suitors looking to add Bryant.
One can only hope that the Rockies did not use the seemingly same silver-tongued approach with Bryant that might have been used with Nolan Arenado. If you recall, one of the problems that led to the rift between Arenado and the front office was that the third baseman felt that the Rockies did not make a full effort to improve and compete after he signed the highest contract value extension in team history.
The understanding by many was that the Rockies made promises to their star that they did not intend to keep. In 2018 at the trade deadline the Rockies had chances to push the team over the edge to make a deep run into the playoffs and win their first division title. They instead settled for a single relief pitcher and a depth piece catcher, rather than try to find an impact bat that could help the team rival the Dodgers. The offseason heading into 2019 saw the team sacrifice D.J. LeMahieu for Daniel Murphy and then do nothing the rest of that year and the following year. Promises must have been broken, and a rift became a chasm of discontent between the star and the men building the team.
We know the rest of the story. Arenado was traded to St. Louis along with $50 million for a package consisting of Austin Gomber and several prospects. Arenado enjoyed a playoff run with the Cardinals where he continued to sock dingers and win yet another Gold Glove. He seemed happy to get away from Colorado and play for a winning team. His teammate Trevor Story saw the warning signs of the drama play out, and is not intent on signing anywhere but here.
So what’s the deal with Bryant after this history?
A common theme from the press conference introducing Bryant on Friday was that he wanted to be a Rockie. Sure, a lengthy seven-year deal worth $182 million is a good reason to go anywhere, but why the Rockies?
“Colorado fits my personality,” Bryant said during the press conference, “I feel like they are so often overlooked [here]... I’ve never had a comfortable at-bat against the Rockies.”
Bryant then went on to mention how he has been in the playoffs almost every year and has never played on a losing team. “I don’t intend for that change,” he said. He’s been a consistent batter and fielder during his career and the Rockies have a guy they can build around for several years to come. He has the experience and ability to help lead the next era of Rockies baseball, but he can’t do it on his own.
General manager Bill Schmidt and Dick Monfort must now choose how they will respond after signing their new star. The ball is fully in their court. Bryant comes from a background of earning major awards, winning a World Series, and earning numerous All-Star game appearances. He has the experience of what it means to be part of a winning product in constant playoff contention. The team can no longer put up smoke and mirrors because of the simple fact that their star knows better. If they want to avoid the mess they put themselves into the past couple of years, they have to invest and put in all the chips on their team.
No more can they just expect guys to “play better.” No more can they just sign reclamation projects or take a flyer on a guy that was good five years ago. The team will have to operate like a well-oiled machine that can bring in quality pieces in free agency and trades as needed while nurturing and developing high-quality homegrown players. Colorado should be a place where every notable slugger is itching to play.
It won’t be easy to compete with the Dodgers, Padres, or Giants, but the Rockies will need to emulate the successful process of their immediate rivals. It can be done, but it’s going to take grit, guts, and a whole lot of luck.
The team has gone through some messy divorces in the last seven years. Relationships soured with Troy Tulowitzki, Nolan Arenado, and Trevor Story in what has become a nasty trend for a team that has yet to win its division, but insists it can win a World Series despite the fact that teams like the Dodgers exist. They have found a new suitor, and can’t afford to drive him away like so many others.
Kris Bryant chose to be in Colorado. He intends to spend seven years with the team. He intends to win. It’s an admirable thing and I hope he has success here because on paper this feels like a great addition to the team. He has the tools and personality to be a powerful addition to the team, and you know he is going to give it his all. However, successful relationships require maximum effort from both parties involved.
The Rockies talked the talk to get him here. They will need to walk the walk if they intend to keep him here.
★ ★ ★
Connor Joe has become an instant favorite in Colorado. Despite a short sample size due to injury, Joe had a strong showing in 2021 with the team. Thomas Harding caught up with Joe to discuss his journey and inspiration moving forward, as well as talking Joe and reuniting with his college teammate Kris Bryant.
Rockies pitchers had a rough day preventing the long ball as the Giants launched four home runs in their spring training victory. Frank Duncan allowed five runs on five hits in two innings of work, an unfortunate result for a pitcher with big-league potential. The Rockies tallied 10 hits, however, with Garrett Hampson showing off some pop with a leadoff homer in the first inning. Also worthy to note that Brendan Rodgers was scheduled to start the game at second base but was scratched prior to the game as a result of back tightness.
★ ★ ★
Please keep in mind our Purple Row Community Guidelines when you’re commenting. Thanks!