There are several different types of players in spring training.
The following types make up the majority of a complete organizational roster:
- Minor league fighters, battling for an organizational promotion.
- Big league fighters, looking to stay and prove their financial worth through arbitration.
The tenured big leaguers get the attention over these guys, as all the press surrounding Kris Bryant this week has shown.
Bryant is the exception, however — the superstar that has already made it — and most every other Rockie, from the complex league to the bigs, is fighting a battle this March that doesn’t always resemble a star.
Ryan McMahon crossed the bridge on Monday.
The Focus Is Clear
McMahon got paid. He can now expect six years and $70 million worth of belief from his organization, making the Arizona sun feel a lot less like a training ground and a lot more like a spring training paradise while he goes to work.
Picture your current job and how the equivalent must feel. Pretty sweet, right?
Prior to this extension, McMahon was entering 2022 with a tremendous amount to prove. He saw a sharp decline across his batting slash in 2020, and while a career-best OPS brought him back in 2021, this year was looking like a mission to prove his long-term value.
McMahon was contracted by the Rockies through 2023 before his new extension. If Colorado lost him, his name would be added to the lineage of homegrown stars that would find homes elsewhere near the age of 30: Story, Arenado, Tulowitzki.
It’s hard enough to play the game on the field itself. It’s even harder when a front office rift has continually weighed down on the latest wave of Rockies stars, which eventually fueled their departures. Bryant’s willingness to come to Colorado does suggest a change is being made, but for an organization to truly suggest a push in a new direction, it requires somebody on the inside to show a similar belief.
Bryant is the outsider that believes in a new era of Rockies baseball. McMahon is now the insider.
A six-year extension takes the game out of the conference room — and life gets a whole lot simpler.
The Art of the Extension
Signing an external free agent means a player must get used to a new fanbase. Top dollar free-agents are expected to prove their value to a new home crowd, and the (sometimes hostile) expectation is set as soon as pen hits paper.
Trevor Story has his work cut out for him in Boston, for example.
Signing an extension with an existing club means a fanbase has already developed an awareness for said player. There is no pressure to make an immediate splash because it has already been made.
Rather than pressing to make something happen early in a deal, McMahon can focus on business that has already been usual. There is nothing new on McMahon’s plate, other than perspective — which can make all the difference.
And Kris Bryant.
The New Perspective: Colorado’s pinnacle enjoys the simple(r) life.
If McMahon made this extension during the Nolan Arenado era, he would be subjecting himself to a club in a far different phase. This is not meant to place blame on Arenado, Story or even Tulowitzki, but it simply shows that McMahon has seen something that is worth sticking around for.
The ultimate counterclaim is this: Arenado’s intent was to stick around, too. Arenado also saw a handful of deals backfire during his tenure, however; no disrespect is intended for Daniel Murphy, Ian Desmond, Wade Davis, Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw, but it was tough for the Arenado days to flourish with some underwhelming performance from those signings.
Our friend Manny Randhawa said on Monday that recent deals for McMahon, Antonio Senzatela and C.J. Cron are won and lost in hindsight. This was most definitely the case from 2017-2018, but this time, what if it all works?
There are many ways to light a fire. The Bill Schmidt era is locking down its assets; the clubhouse is new, the perspective has changed, and McMahon’s willingness is here to show that something is different.
We’ll have to check back in six years to see how it pans out — but for March 2022, something is suggesting a difference.
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Jeff Passan gave us his clear account of the McMahon deal, breaking down collective Rockies spending and the chess match the team has played on the transaction board this March. He breaks down the “career-best” season for McMahon in 2021, from his showcased power to his best strikeout rate in 2021.
Our friend Noah Yingling at Rox Pile gives us an interesting account on one of Colorado’s now-lesser-publicized deals this month. “Iglesias has had a longer career than Tapia but in recent years, he’s been nearly identical to Tapia, especially offensively,” he said. Both have near-equal OPS and their performance on the batting slash has shown a relatively similar presence.
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The Rockies sent a prospect-heavy lineup to Peoria, Arizona on Monday and they ran into a Yu Darvish-sized roadblock once they got there. Darvish tossed three scoreless frames allowing three hits, striking out nine and walking zero.
Ryan Rolison took the start for Colorado and his afternoon ended after a single tough-luck inning. He allowed four runs and only one was earned; Rockies’ relievers would then toss eight consecutive scoreless innings to shut this one down.
Ezequel Tovar was the breakout player of the day on offense, going 3-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored. Colorado starters went a combined 8-for-24, while the Rockies’ run scoring came exclusively in the sixth and eighth inning.
The Rockies will make another short trip to Tempe Diablo Stadium today to take on the Angels, missing Shohei Ohtani’s start by a single day. They will return ‘home’ to Salt River Fields on Wednesday.
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