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Trading from an area of depth could be the best way to improve Colorado’s pitching pipeline

Colorado Rockies news and links for Monday, October 16, 2023

I’m a big fan of one-for-one trades in baseball, specifically when they are centered around prospects or pre-arbitration eligible players. Generally these deals are based around teams working with each other to improve areas of their organization together. Like any trade, time tells who may get the better end of the swap but, overall, these trades seem to make a lot of sense on paper at the time.

The Colorado Rockies’ need is very apparent. Pitching. It’s always pitching.

The team could – and probably will – look to address its paper-thin rotation through minor acquisitions in the off-season. The waiver wire and minor league free agent deals seem to be management’s best friends when it comes to acquiring starters, as evident by recent transactions like Chase Anderson, Ty Blach and José Ureña.

These band-aids help patch the requisite innings needed from the rotation during the season (at least to some degree) but don’t do much to move the needle on the ceiling of the rotation. That has to come from Colorado’s internal development, as the organization is too gun-shy to pursue higher-end arms in free agency and would likely need to cough-up a contract at a steep premium to get the attention of a Blake Snell, anyways.

That internal-development plan is in turmoil at the moment, though. Big league stalwarts Germán Márquez and Antonio Senzatela are shut down while recovering from Tommy John surgery while higher-end Minor League arms Gabriel Hughes, Jordy Vargas and Jackson Cox also just went under the knife for elbow reconstruction.

That leaves the Rockies with an MLB rotation that doesn’t seem to have five capable starters at the moment and just Chase Dollander – who has yet to throw a pitch professionally – as the only active prospect with top-of-the-rotation potential on the horizon.

It’s a bleak situation that has been compounding over the years. One that the front office has failed to address in previous seasons and should expect similar results if they drag their feet on the issue again this off-season.

But there is a path the team has yet to truly explore, trading away higher-end position players to acquire pitching talent with that coveted upside. This idea of dealing Brendan Rodgers in a deal with the Miami Marlins was at least publicly entertained last off-season, but the Rockies reportedly backed-out during negotiations.

With top-prospect Adael Amador on the rise, Rodgers could once again theoretically make sense to move to bolster the pitching crops. However, after missing the vast majority of 2023 with a left shoulder injury, the front office would be selling-low on the former Gold Glove winner.

There is an alternative avenue of organizational depth that should be worth considering in this same vein, though. The emergence of Nolan Jones – who posted a robust 138 wRC+ on his way to a 20/20 season in just 424 plate appearances – has given Colorado a new centerpiece in their outfield of the future. Beyond that, Brenton Doyle showed at least some potential at the plate to go with his top-tier defense, warranting further playing time on the major league roster.

Behind Doyle and Jones is a wave of outfield talent expected to arrive in the next two years. Jordan Beck and Yanquiel Fernandez have the brightest shine of the group at the moment while Zac Veen and Benny Montgomery are still highly-regarded prospects. Mix-in Sterlin Thompson, who may or may not be able to stick as infielder, and it’s clear that Colorado has more talent on the way than space available.

Injuries, development setbacks or under-performance can and likely will happen to members of this group, so the stockpile is a good problem to have at the moment. But if all goes according to plan…there’s another logjam on the way.

This is where the Rockies could be proactive and pull from this supply to swing a deal for talented, cost-controlled hurlers to improve their future big league squad. Not every team would be able to fit the bill for such a swap – whether it be because of their pitching supply or needs for a young outfielder – but that doesn’t mean there are no possible suitors.

The Marlins again remain an attractive option with their pitching surplus heavily outweighing their position player prospect pool. As are the up-and-coming Detroit Tigers, who still boast an impressive arsenal of arms but are looking to reinforce their lineup around Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson.

The return will vary depending on what the Rockies would be willing to part with, but names like Edward Cabrera and Max Meyer from Miami or Wilmer Flores (not that one, but his brother with the same name), Matt Manning, Ty Madden or possibly even Jackson Jobe in Detroit would be the caliber of talent Colorado could feasibly aim for in this type of deal.

Whether these two teams or another from around the league would be willing to part with their assets in a deal remains to be seen. That sentiment certainly applies to Colorado, as well. But, on paper, it sure seems like the Rockies are in a good position to take a big swing at bolstering their rotation – in the immediate and long-term – if they want to.

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Rockies outright trio of veterans | Purple Row

The Rockies outrighted Matt Carasiti, Harold Castro and Austin Wynns off the Major League roster over the weekend. The club has 37 players on the 40-man roster with five players on the 60-day IL.

Rockies Journal: Who’ll return to the playoffs first, Broncos or Rox? | The Denver Post

With the Broncos falling to 1-5 after their loss on Thursday night, Patrick Saunders ponders if they or the Rockies are further away from making the playoffs.

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Pebble Report: Arizona Fall League

It was a strong week for the Salt River Rafters as they collected five wins in six games, bumping their record to 7-5 on the season. On the mound, Chris McMahon rebounded after a tough debut with two scoreless innings in relief, striking out two. Case Williams delivered another three scoreless innings in his second start of the year, striking out four while allowing just one hit.

At the plate, Benny Montgomery had another terrific week, tallying seven hits and two stolen bases with a .412/.500/.412 slash line in four games. Not to be outdone, Sterlin Thompson finished with a team-high 1.303 OPS in his four games and went for extra-bases in half of his six hits while driving in five runs and drawing five walks.

2023 AFL Hitters (Season to Date)

Benny Montgomery 26/78 3 14 27 10
Sterlin Thompson 27/80 0 18 24 7
Drew Romo 9/39 0 8 9 1

2023 AFL Pitchers (Season to Date)

Alec Barger 8/0 9.1 2/1 2 13
Jaden Hill 11/0 11.1 6/4 4 13
Chris McMahon 5/1 8.2 10/0 4 8
Juan Mejia 8/0 8.1 3/2 9 16
Case Williams 6/6 17 6/6 9 16

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