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Perusing top remaining outfield free agents

Colorado Rockies news and links for Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Last week, we explored the top remaining infielder free agents according to FanGraphs’ version of Wins Above Replacement. I came to the conclusion that for the most part, the Colorado Rockies are fairly set in their infield, thanks to the abundance of prospects and established players at their positions. While it grows increasingly unlikely that the Rockies will make any significant transactions, we can still explore the rest of the free agent market for pieces that Bill Schmidt and company could take a look at in the outfield.

Left Field: Adam Duvall (3.6 fWAR)

I’ll start off by saying, left field is locked down for the Rockies. Kris Bryant is the everyday player at the position (pending health) and the team has plenty of backups ready to fill in as needed, such as Sean Bouchard and Nolan Jones. However, it’s still worth it to consider someone like Adam Duvall for a little bit.

First and foremost, Duvall is two things: a slugger and a solid outfielder. Over the course of his career, when he has been given extended playing time in a season, he has produced plenty of home runs. In 2021, Duvall led the league with 113 RBI while blasting 38 home runs en route to helping the Atlanta Braves win the World Series. While the average has never been great for Duvall, his career .755 OPS is still respectable, all things considered.

Add in the fact that Duvall has generally been a reliable defender. 2022 was the first season that Duvall had a negative DRS in the outfield since 2015. When he’s healthy, he is a versatile and quality outfielder that could handle any of the three outfield positions, a valuable trait that makes him a notable option that can also slot into the DH spot.

Likelihood: Not much. As I said, left field is fairly locked down for the Rockies. Duvall has the power potential you want, but other moves would have to be made to make room for him. He seems better suited for a younger team, or even a rebuilding one.

Center Field: Odúbel Herrera (1.8)

A left-handed center fielder seemed to be at the top of the Rockies' offseason wishlist. Unfortunately for them, their top options quickly fell off the board one by one until it seems that Yonathan Daza and Randal Grichuk will hold down the fort once again. An everyday player doesn’t stand out on the market, but Odúbel Herrera could be another bench option.

Having spent his entire career with the Philadelphia Phillies, Herrera finds himself in search of a new home. During his career, Herrera has established himself as a high-contact type of player. In fact, he has a career contract rate of 76.9%, though the biggest problem is an overabundance of groundballs at 46.6%.

So he’ll put the ball in play, it’s just more likely it’s going into the ground. His .271/.326/.419 slash line is respectable and would be the type of production you’d take off the bench for a fourth outfielder type. He’ll run into a handful of home runs and play reliable defense in center field. He’s also a left-handed bat, something the Rockies need still.

Likelihood: He’s the type of bench player that would fit the Rockies' makeup, or is even worth a non-roster invite to Spring Training. Will the Rockies take a chance like that? Probably not, but it could be worth considering.

Right Field: Tyler Naquin (1.5 fWAR)

I won’t spend much time here on Tyler Naquin since I already wrote about him a while ago. Simply to recap, Naquin is a career .264/.318/.448 hitter, and has had a bit of an uneven career, numbers-wise. At times he has displayed some high-quality production like during his rookie year in 2016 when he finished third in Rookie of the Year voting after smacking 14 home runs and batting .296/.372/.514 in 116 games.

Most recently, Naquin spent the 2022 season split between the Reds and the Mets. In 105 games last season, Naquin batted .229/.282/.423 with 11 home runs and 46 RBI. Despite struggling a bit after a trade to the Mets, Naquin settled into a nice reserve role for the team in Queens. He is capable of playing both center field and right field, and he displays a high-contact profile that is fairly even across the board.

Likelihood: Much like Herrera, Naquin fits into that veteran bench piece. He is definitely one of those players that would fall into the non-roster invite category. Still not as likely, but worth a look if push comes to shove.

Decisions, Decisions

Much like the infield, the Rockies have their bed made in the outfield. There is still uncertainty about who will get the majority of the starts in center and right field, but they missed out on their prized free agents early on in the offseason and now their two options for upgrades are only through in-house promotion and trades. The available free agents again really only fit at bench options, still important pieces, but not of the utmost importance.

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In case you missed the news, Scott Oberg officially announced his retirement on Tuesday. The reliever hasn’t been able to pitch in a big league game since 2019, dealing with numerous difficulties as a result of blood clots in his arm. He will stay with the organization however has a special assistant in the front office, a role he has more or less been filling the past couple of seasons.

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