Earlier this week I explored the idea of extending Colorado Rockies closer Daniel Bard. If that transaction came to pass I theorized that it could fall in the ballpark of a two-year, $11 million pact that would give the Rockies some consistency at the backend of their bullpen and reward an individual that has had an overall decent three seasons in Colorado, and overcome a mountainous journey of hardship to return to the big leagues.
This season, the Rockies also took a chance with an under-the-radar signing in Chad Kuhl who, for all intents and purposes, has been the best starter for the team this season. While Bard is an obvious trade candidate the team should probably trade and try to sign after the season, Kuhl is a more interesting case to me of whether to trade or attempt an extension, because that scenario has far more ramifications on the roster than a 37-year-old reliever.
Kuhl as a Cucumber
Kuhl will be making his 15th start of the season on Sunday. Through his previous 14 starts, he has a 5-5 record with a strong 3.49 ERA in 77 1⁄3 innings of work. Across the board, the move to Colorado has actually helped Kuhl improve as a pitcher as he currently has a career-low 1.306 WHIP, and has managed to keep his problems with walks in check while also keeping the ball out of the air and inside the ballpark. It also helps that he has managed to enhance his arsenal exponentially, with his slider being one of the best pitches in baseball this season.
Surprisingly, Kuhl has also been primo at Coors Field and blended in nicely. His 2.48 ERA exceeds expectations as does the .221 opponent batting average against him at home. However, like most of the roster, he has struggled on the road where is two whole runs higher at 4.39, which still isn’t terrible and fits in with his career averages. We’ve seen his best performance in his three-hit complete-game shutout against the Los Angeles Dodgers in his last start. He’s provided fairly consistence performance in a rotation that has been volatile in its results this season. So, his numbers may be reason enough to consider an extension for the near future.
Kuhl for Help
In terms of bargain bin deals, the Rockies struck some gold with Kuhl at $3 million this season. According to FanGraphs calculations to covert fWAR into salary amounts, Kuhl’s 1.4 fWAR is valued at $11 million, talk about a deal! There are plenty of notable free agents for this coming offseason, none of which the Rockies are likely to bring in for at least $20 million a season, so Kuhl already being in a Rockies uniform presents an avenue to explore an extension.
The Rockies starting pitching depth is already depleted thanks to injuries to Peter Lambert and Ryan Rolison, and aside from lower cost, not many others in Triple-A are necessarily banging down the door for a shot at the big leagues. José Ureña may find himself an opportunity at some point if injuries stack up, but he isn’t inspiring much confidence in Albuquerque. Ashton Goudeau still hasn’t proven himself as a viable option either, which leaves Ryan Feltner as the lone man who has been getting action at the big league level. Even then, he has seen mixed results in his big league starts this season and has some obvious growing to do still.
With little help on the immediate horizon, and the Rockies' hesitance to trade away starting pitching (see Jon Gray 2021), it’s not out the question that they hold on to Kuhl just for the sake of being able to send a reliable fifth starter out every five days. There is also the fact that the Rockies' main intent seems to be to win as many games as possible, regardless of how far out of the playoff picture they end up.
Kuhl me Maybe
So, assuming they hold onto him rather than do a logical thing like trade him away, what could an extension of Chad Kuhl look like? He will be entering his age-30 season next year, so it’s not going to be an astronomical term length. Personally, I could see the Rockies pursue another two-year contract with a club option for a third season. That would have him signed through 2024 and potentially 2025, and despite what FanGraphs formula indicates, an AAV in the area of $6 million feels about right with a bump to $8 million for the option depending on performance incentives. Potentially, this gives you at least one more season of Kuhl, and then you can explore a trade in 2024 depending on how things go. Of course, a lot of this depends on the progress of the Rockies' minor leaguers.
If the team deems someone is going to be ready to take over in 2023 in the rotation, then by all means they should go that route as it is paramount they do more things like that. However, it’s also important to remember that you can never have too much starting pitching. Bill Schmidt and company have a lot to think about, but Chad Kuhl may be an interesting short-term target to hold onto.
What are your thoughts on a Chad Kuhl extension? Keep the conversation going below!
Should the Rockies extend Chad Kuhl?
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Only if the price is right
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Brendan Rodgers’ performance over the past two months has been a nice turnaround after an abysmal month of April. He tells Thomas Harding about some advice that Trevor Story once gave him, and what he is hoping to accomplish with the Rockies and become a leader among his peers as they try to crawl out of the NL West basement.
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On The Farm
The Isotopes cruised to a 9-3 victory over the Space Cowboys thanks to a pair of rockets by Carlos Pérez as part of a multi-hit night in which he drove in six runs. The Isotopes went with a pitch-by-committee approach, using seven pitchers in total, with Julian Fernández recording the win after tossing two scoreless innings. The Isotopes managed to take the lead in the sixth with three runs, followed by a four-spot in the seventh inning. D.J. Peterson also had a three-hit night while also driving in a run.
Noah Davis got roughed up in four innings of work against the Rumble Ponies after he took the loss by giving up five runs on seven hits. The Hartford offense was well contained by Binghamton as they managed just five hits on the night. Brenton Doyle slugged his 10th homer of the year, but aside from a Jimmy Herron two-hit night, wasn’t able to muster much else in the game.
Despite Bladimir Restituyo hitting a two-out triple to represent a tying run 90 feet away, Spokane stranded him at third to lose the game 4-3. Aside from a four-spot by Vancouver in the third inning, Joe Rock turned in a solid five innings of work, with only two of the runs being earned. Restituyo managed three hits on the night, while Grant Lavigne tallied a pair of hits to help lead the offense.
Victor Juarez provided a much better outing on Saturday night, despite allowing four runs on seven hits in 5 2⁄3 innings of work. The young prospect tallied three strikeouts and one walk in his outing, but it’s a nice bounceback from his start last week. Hunter Goodman managed to launch the 100th home run of the season for the Grizzlies, which also happened to be his 22nd long ball of the year, as part of his multi-hit night. Juan Guerrero and Adael Amador both had multi-hit nights as well to help the Grizzlies string together runs late in the ball game to take the victory.
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