If we look back to the 86 wins threshold for the sixth seed in the National League and apply that standard today, it means the Rockies will need 53 more wins in their final 85 games just to crack the edge of the playoff picture. That’s a .624 W-L%, a mark better than what every other team in baseball has posted to this point outside of the New York Yankees, Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers.
That’s not happening.
So, once again, the Rockies will be in the “seller” bucket for the upcoming trade deadline on August 2. The label is familiar, but actual transacting is not. Colorado has made ancillary deadline moves in recent seasons, usually regarding relievers on expiring contracts or minor league swaps, but for the most part there has not been an impact player traded away since the Troy Tulowitzki deal in 2015.
But there is a strong case to be made that trading C.J. Cron is a move the Rockies need to make in 2022.
For the four seasons from 2017-2020, C.J. Cron played for four different teams. He posted a .250/.315/.472 mark and 110 wRC+ in that time. He was good-not-great at a position that demands a bat-first profile, resulting in little demand for his services heading into the 2021 season.
He signed a minor league contract with Colorado and won a starting job out of Spring Training. In his first season with the Rockies, Cron hit 28 home runs, had a .905 OPS and posted a 131 OPS+. This earned him a two-year extension with Colorado worth $7.25M annually for 2022 and 2023.
In the first year of that deal, Cron is producing a similar clip with a 133 OPS+ through 76 games. His name is prominently featured in the top-10 of the National League for offensive production and, as a result, the Rockies are sitting in the top-third of 1B production for the entire league.
This upper-class ranking in 1B production indicates there is a market for Cron from teams looking to improve their offense. Adding C.J. Cron to upgrade at 1B would make sense for a team in the thick of the playoff picture like the Cleveland Guardians, Houston Astros or Boston Red Sox. A need could be created because of injury, too, like the Seattle Mariners just experienced with the loss of Ty France (and are now trying to fill with Carlos Santana).
The pool of potential suitors grows when you consider the universal DH. To go with the aforementioned Guardians and Mariners, the New York Mets, San Diego Padres, St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants have all received DH production below league-average when using wRC+.
Adding Cron’s bat would mark an upgrade to any of these organization’s lineup for both this season and next. And at a very palatable expense considering Cron’s contract is tied for the 188th largest deal in the league.
The conjecture on a return-package for any player is endless. We know the general list of potential buyers and what value Cron brings to the table, but can only speculate on what the Rockies can get until a trade is actually completed.
But there is precedence available.
The Pittsburgh Pirates were able to acquire two top-10 pitching prospects (one of which is pitching very well right now) from the Washington Nationals’ system for multiple seasons of Josh Bell before the start of the 2020 season. And previous offensive deadline rentals like Javier Báez and Kris Bryant in 2021 and Nicholas Castellanos in 2019 have fetched net-positive returns despite being for players on expiring contracts.
How GM Bill Schmidt negotiates with other clubs will prove what kind of return the team can fetch for Cron. There’s a non-zero chance it could go poorly for any seller (like J.D. Martinez to Arizona in 2017), but there is also an opportunity for an important piece of the future to arrive from Cron departing. Given where Colorado currently stands, it certainly feels like a risk worth taking.
Last, and maybe most important, is filling the hole that Cron leaves behind. Obviously the Rockies are a better team with Cron than without, but it’s irrelevant when the team is likely to finish well short of the .500 mark.
Simply getting a return of significance for a low-risk minor league signing from two years ago is a compelling rationale on its own. But the incentive to move Cron becomes that much sweeter when you consider what could be done with his spot in the lineup.
The logjam in the Colorado lineup has been well documented and only becomes exacerbated with Kris Bryant’s return. Plus you have Elehuris Montero sitting near the top of PCL leader boards in offensive production this season, shuffling back and forth between Albuquerque and Colorado, waiting for his chance for consistent at-bats at the major league level.
Moving Cron would conceivably present Montero with that opportunity, with other capable hitters behind him if needed. It would also fetch prospects that would bolster a Colorado system that is still in the process of rising. While moving Cron would certainly diminish the product on the field for the Rockies, it certainly seems like a wise decision for the health of the franchise moving forward.
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July 1st marks the celebration of the New York Mets cutting a $1.19M check to Bobby Bonilla as part of the deferred salary from his contract signed in 2000. With that in mind, Noah Yingling looks at the deferred salaries on Colorado’s books. First is Todd Helton, who has received $1.3M per year from the Rockies, with the last of his ten installments due next year. The other still receiving compensation from his playing days is Vinny Castilla, who gets $106,666 annually as part of a one-year $2.1M contract in 2004.
★ ★ ★
On The Farm
An RBI single from Sam Hilliard got Albuquerque out to an early lead, but it would not last long. Starter Brandon Gold allowed three runs in the second to surrender the lead before being on the hook for five of the six runs that crossed in the fourth inning, putting the Isotopes in a big hole they could never climb out of. L.J. Hatch brought the Isotopes closer with a three-run home run in the fifth inning, but that is as close as they would get as the club went scoreless the rest of the way.
Starter Nick Bush held the Rumble Ponies scoreless through the first two innings, but was touched up for three runs in the third, putting Hartford down early. A long Brenton Doyle two-run homer in the fourth inning brought the Yard Goats within one before the team exploded for sixth runs in the fifth. The outburst was constructed by RBI doubles from Hunter Stovall, a run-scoring from Willie MacIver and a two-run homer from Jimmy Herron. The Hartford bullpen would hold down the fort from there with two scoreless, no-hit innings from Riley Pint followed by one of the same from P.J. Poulin.
RBI doubles from Grant Lavigne and Trevor Boone in the top of a three-run first inning gave Fresno a lead they would never relinquish. Vancouver would score runs in the first and second off starter Will Ethridge, who allowed three total in 5 2⁄3 innings, to bring the lead down to one. But an RBI single by Bladimir Restituyo in the sixth and solo homers by Zac Veen and Trevor Boone in the following innings would give the Grizzlies a two-run lead heading into the ninth. They tacked on three in the ninth thanks to a Veen single and Lavigne double to seal the deal.
After gaining an early lead on a Yanquiel Fernandez solo home run in the top of the first inning, the Fresno Grizzlies quickly fell behind after Stockton put up three runs in three innings against starter Brayan Castillo. The score would remain locked at 3-1 until the sixth when reliever Ever Moya was touched up for three more. Fresno would rally for a run in the seventh on a Warming Bernabel groundout, but that momentum was cut short when Stockton added two more in the eighth. Down 8-2 in the ninth with two out and two strikes, Juan Guerrero drove a three-run homer out to cut the lead to 8-5 but Fresno’s comeback wasn’t enough as they left the tying run at the on-deck circle.
★ ★ ★
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