As Major League Baseball moved out of the lockout and into the 2022 season, one of the bigger questions for the Rockies was who was going to fill the hole in the lineup and at short left by the imminent departure of Trevor Story. In a narrative that we’ve all heard plenty of times, the last time the Rockies had an everyday shortstop not named Story or Tulowitzki was 2006.
It took new GM Bill Schmidt just three days after the lockout ended to find the answer to at least one of those questions. José Iglesias, who spent time with the Angels and Red Sox last year and was an All Star with the Tigers in 2015, signed a one year deal worth $5 million. Iglesias looks to get the majority of starts at short going into the season.
Iglesias, historically, had been known as a glove first shortstop, sporting a career triple slash of .277/.318/.382. During his All Star year, 2015, he hit .300/.347/.370 - slightly above his career average. He excels at putting the ball in play, having strikeout (and walk) rates well below league norm, but predictably does not bring much power to the table.
After going to Boston for the playoff stretch last year, Iglesias experienced a renaissance of sorts, hitting .356/.406/.508 in a limited sample size of 23 games. However, his renaissance also extended to his typically solid defensive side of the ball - over 2021 as a whole, he ranked last for major league shortstops in multiple defensive metrics. While the bat of Trevor Story will undoubtedly prove hard to replace, his glove is arguably just as valuable, and Iglesias will hope to regain his defensive form of old to back up the Rockies pitchers.
Similar to the other infield positions, the Rockies lack depth backups, but rather have other everyday players who could fill in if necessary. Both Brendan Rodgers and Garrett Hampson got reps in at short last year, and both should prove capable replacements, yet both also have every day positional responsibilities of their own.
Beyond Rodgers and Hampson, Alan Trejo made his major league debut last year and spent time for the Rockies at short and is another player who could get looks if need be.
On the farm
The Rockies have a trio of interesting options coming through the pipeline, but none look to be ready in 2022 unless something drastically changes.
Ezequiel Tovar ended the year at High-A Spokane last year for his first full season of professional ball. The now 20-year old excelled in Fresno to start the year, putting up a .856 OPS, 11 homers, and 21 steals. He is a consensus top 10 prospect in the system across multiple rankings and has steadily moved up the lists since signing with the Rockies as a 16-year old. He’s still young, even for A ball, projecting as a stellar fielding infielder that makes solid contact at the dish. However, barring an incredible breakout or meltdowns above him, he’s at least a year away from the bigs.
Even further down the pipeline is Adael Amador. Signed in 2019 out of the Dominican Republic, he played last year at the complex level. The switch hitter is sound defensively, makes good contact, and has speed to hurt opponents on the basepaths. He’ll likely make his A-level debut this summer.
In case of disaster
Similar to the other infield positions, the Rockies have a good amount of defensive versatility at short. In addition to Hampson, Rodgers, and Trejo, the Rockies could look to move Ryan McMahon over if necessary, especially considering new Rockie Kris Bryant has plenty of experience to take over at third.