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The roster crunch looms for the Rockies

Colorado Rockies news and links for Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Last week we saw the Colorado Rockies begin the arduous task of shuffling the 40-man roster as the offseason grows ever closer. Their first task involved outrighting arbitration-eligible veterans Harold Castro and Austin Wynns and extra reliever Matt Carasiti. All three players elected free agency and left the Rockies with 37 players on the 40-man roster. With five players on the 60-day injured list that need to be added, three pending free agents, and the need to protect players in the Rule 5 draft, there is plenty to be done in the coming months.

Injured List

The following players currently reside on the 60-day IL as of writing:

  • Germán Márquez
  • Antonio Senzatela
  • Austin Gomber
  • Lucas Gilbreath
  • Ryan Rolison

All five players would need to be added back to the 40-man roster around the time free agency and the offseason begin. The returns of Márquez, Senzatela, and Gilbreath back to the 40-man are guaranteed additions. Both Márquez and Senzatela will return to the 60-day IL once spring training starts, but for the time being, will have to occupy space during the offseason. Gilbreath spent 2023 recovering from Tommy John surgery and appears likely to be ready to go once February and March roll around and be a 15-day IL placement at the least.

Austin Gomber is certain to return, but that depends on whether the Rockies choose to retain his services in arbitration and if the back problems he has dealt with don’t pose a red flag to the team. The fringe candidate remains Ryan Rolison. Injuries have derailed Rolison’s big-league aspirations and it’s hard to envision him ever staying healthy enough with that left shoulder to achieve the potential the Rockies drafted him for. If the Rockies feel so inclined, they may have to finally cut their losses on Rolison who will turn 27 next July.

Free Agents

The Rockies have three pending free agents:

  • Brent Suter
  • Chase Anderson
  • Chris Flexen

Both Suter and Anderson expressed interest in returning to the Rockies at some point during the 2023 season. Oftentimes that is the secret word of the day Pee-Wee’s Playhouse style for the Rockies organization and there could still be interest for one or both of those players. Suter could garner wider interest after a solid 2023, but Anderson seems like a safe bet for the team to bring back as a veteran leader for the rotation, especially after a strong finish to the season.

Flexen, on the other hand, fulfilled his role as a warm-body pitcher but due to his relative ineffectiveness as a starter would likely be a candidate to return on a minor league deal as a depth piece for 2024, otherwise, it would be wise for the Rockies to let him walk and look for opportunities elsewhere, especially ones where he could be a big league starter for someone else.

Rule 5 and beyond

The Rule 5 draft occurs every December during the Winter Meetings. MLB states, “Players signed at age 18 or younger need to be added to their club’s 40-man roster within five seasons or they become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft. Players who signed at age 19 or older need to be protected within four seasons.” I won’t go into depth for eligible players (we’ll leave that for another time) but the Rockies will once again find themselves in a crunch. The Rockies have a good amount of players who will be eligible, so they will have to make some tough decisions before the deadline in November.

If the Rockies let all three of their free agents walk while adding back all five 60-day IL players. That leaves them with one measly roster spot to work with this offseason, meaning that more moves have to be made. Non-tenders and outrights are sure to happen because there is just so much more work to do with the roster. The Rockies are certain to live on the minor league contract, which is fine in some aspects, but they will have to address needs in other meaningful ways. Trades, waiver claims, and free agent signings have to be explored to bolster the major league product while cutting the fat — something they did quite well last offseason — so that they can shape the roster towards the future.

All we can do is sit and wait for the Rockies to choose a path back toward contention. After losing 103 games in 2023, change starts with the roster and approach to it.


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