In the post-Moneyball era, teams are continually looking for ways to maximize production for their money. Recently, teams have gone from taking advantage of players on reduced salaries during their arbitration years to signing young players to mega-deals before they hit free agency. Julio Rodriguez recently signed a contract during his rookie year that has the potential to max out at 17 years and $470 million. Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez each signed extensions with the White Sox before they had appeared in the majors.
The Rockies have followed suit in their own way. They extended Germán Márquez, Kyle Freeland, and Antonio Senzatela before they finished their arbitration years and hit free agency. (These signings, in contrast to losing Jon Gray in free agency.)
The Big One (above $20 million)
- Kris Bryant - $28 million (2.9 projected WAR)
In the Saturday Rockpile, Kenneth Weber took a look at the Kris Bryant contract and how it has been underwhelming thus far, to say the least. While it’s hard to envision next season going any worse - Bryant has yet to hit a home run in front of fans at Coors - next year he’ll get a $10 million raise and the aging curve comes for everyone. However, there likely won’t be anyone working harder to prove themselves than Bryant next year, and if the Rockies are to succeed he’ll have to live up to his salary.
The Next Tier ($10 million to $20 million)
- Charlie Blackmon - $18.33 million (0.1 projected WAR)
- Germán Márquez - $15.3 million (3.8 projected WAR)
- Kyle Freeland - $10.5 million (1.4 projected WAR)
- Randal Grichuk - $10.33 million (0.6 projected WAR)
Still a fan favorite, Charlie Blackmon will exercise his player option for the last year of his contract in 2023. While not the offensive force he once was, the 2023 ZIPS projection is less than rosy. Márquez and Freeland are each on their aforementioned extensions, and the team will rely on them to front the rotation. We’ve seen different iterations of both of them over the last couple years and each couple easily outplay their projections and make their contract seem like a bargain. Finally, Randal Grichuk will be in the walk year on his deal and looking to prove that he not only deserves a spot in the Rockies outfield, but another deal in the ten figure average annual value range.
The Rest (below $10 million)
- Daniel Bard - $9.5 million (0.3 projected WAR)
- Ryan McMahon - $9 million (2 projected WAR)
- CJ Cron - $7.25 million (1.1 projected WAR)
- Antonio Senzatela - $7.25 million (2.9 projected WAR)
- Elias Diaz - $5.5 million (0.8 projected WAR)
This section is filled with potential for the Rockies front office to look good. Ryan McMahon looked poised for a breakout year, but hasn’t found consistency. Antonio Senzatela has found injury trouble. Both of them have the potential to put themselves in line for a large raise in negotiating their next contract. And despite putting up another set of more than solid seasons, ZIPS does not believe in either CJ Cron or Daniel Bard going forward. Scott Oberg could also be a part of this list, but it’s assumed that the Rockies will decline his $8 million club option.
All told, the Rockies currently sit just under $150 million for their 2023 contracts. Contributors such as Brendan Rodgers, Austin Gomber, and Garrett Hampson are in their arbitration years, so each will also command a decent salary and add to this number, likely moreso if any of them sign major extensions. They have 23 players under contract, so definitely have some holes to fill before spring training.
★ ★ ★
Looking at the roster as a whole, it could go multiple ways. Both Elehuris Montero and Michael Toglia are top-15 organizational prospects who made their debuts in 2022 and look poised to return to the big league club in 2023. Ezequiel Tovar has recently been promoted to AAA and is continuing to make it look like he still belongs at a higher level. All three players could get a consistent shot at starting to the big league club next year, or GM Bill Schmidt could bring in a veteran option to provide a stopgap. Or, both could happen and we could see the younger players split time with veterans. Things are a little more solidified on the rotation end - Kyle Freeland, Antonio Senzatela, and Germán Márquez are all on long term contracts, but there remain questions on which versions of those pitchers will show up.
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On The Farm
Albuquerque dropped the finale and the series to Oklahoma City (LAD), despite getting out to a three run lead early. The Dodgers responded with three three-run innings to secure the game. Ezequiel Tovar (no. 1 PuRP) continued to show why he has shot up the prospect rankings, going 2-5 with an RBI in what was his third game at the AAA level. DJ Peterson knocked a three-run home run and Tyler Hill had a pair of hits and a run scored to provide the rest of the offense on the day. The Isotopes have an off-day today, then will head on the road to take on the Sugar Land Space Cowboys (HOU).
Despite going just 1-11 with runners in scoring position, the Yard Goats took the win to end their season on the road in Binghamton. Aaron Schunk, Daniel Montano (no. 30 PuRP), and Brent Doyle (no. 25 PuRP) each had solo homers to make the most of their at-bats. The pitching staff bullpenned the game to wrap up the year - seven different pitchers threw, with Regis University product Noah Gotsis earning the win after delivering a scoreless and hitless seven outs. The team’s 2023 schedule has been released here, they’ll open up at home on April 6th against the Bowie Baysox (BAL).
Lake Elsinore (SDP) came to the Cal League Championship Series ready to play, putting up multiple runs in the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh innings on the way to a dominating victory over the Grizzlies. Fresno had 12 hits, but wasn’t able to string them together - they ended the game with 25 men left on base.
The best-of-three series will return to Fresno on Tuesday for Game 2, and Game 3 to follow on Wednesday if necessary.
★ ★ ★
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