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Three low-risk, high-reward free agents for the Rockies to consider

Colorado Rockies news and links for Monday, November 27, 2023

The quiet off-season rolls on for the Colorado Rockies. There has been little-to-nothing in terms of news for both the team and most of MLB in the waning days of November. The Arizona Diamondbacks and Seattle Mariners recently struck a deal, with the Snakes acquiring 3B Eugenio Suárez from the M’s.

This move has mild ramifications for the Rockies as it solidifies an area of need for a divisional rival. Beyond that, it potentially affects the market for one of their better-valued trade assets in Ryan McMahon – if management were to choose to move him during the off-season.

Those are storylines worth following on as the off-season progresses, but now is the time for rumors and speculation to reign supreme. Last week, we took a look at three players recently non-tendered by their clubs that could be worth considering for Colorado.

Dakota Hudson, Nick Senzel and Spencer Turnbull aren’t the only options worth a look, however. The interest in Hudson and Turnbull is evident – Colorado needs starting pitching and the two righties have a history of success that would be a welcome addition. In Senzel, there would be more of a bet on tapping into his potential at a reduced rate.

There are quite a few options on the market that fit that same mold, and the Rockies are in a position to start giving opportunities to those types of players. With that in mind, let’s look at three more players the Rockies could bring in who fit that mold.

Francisco Mejía

While Elias Díaz produced an All-Star season behind the plate for the Rockies, they certainly fell short at the position with the back-up role. Manager Bud Black deployed three options behind Díaz last year – Brian Serven, Jorge Alfaro and Austin Wynns – with limited success. Wynns picked up the most slack with 45 games played, but contributed to a group that combined to post a negative-one rWAR collectively.

Wynns and Alfaro have moved on from the organization with just Serven remaining on the 40-man roster. While the organization likely still has Drew Romo in mind for the future of the position, that doesn’t mean he will be ready to take on a big-league role in 2024 – meaning they could use some reinforcement back there for 2024.

There are plenty of veteran options on the market, but a more intriguing option could be Francisco Mejía – who was recently cut loose by the Tampa Bay Rays. A former top-prospect, Mejía has been dealt twice in his career — even being a centerpiece in a package that sent Blake Snell to the San Diego Padres.

He’s never translated that potential into a full-time MLB starting gig, however. In seven seasons, Mejía’s high in games-played topped out at 93 in 2022 and he owns a lifetime .678 OPS and 88 OPS+. While not meager numbers, they certainly are not the stats he was projected to post to this point.

But the bat still holds some impact ability and his defense, while not outstanding, is at least serviceable behind the plate. He is certainly not without his warts – especially in his plate approach based on his career 4.6% walk-rate – but there is enough upside in his skillset that could be worth taking a flier on for one season.

Brailyn Marquez

Speaking of former top-prospects, few pitchers were held in higher-regard LHP Brailyn Marquez of the Chicago Cubs organization. In four minor league seasons, Marquez dominated the lower-levels of the minors between 2016-2019 – leading to his MLB debut in 2020.

Unfortunately, shoulder injuries derailed his career and he completely missed both the 2021 and 2022 seasons because of it. He returned to action in 2023, throwing 30 ⅔ innings between four levels mostly in a relief role.

Seeing Marquez return to the mound was a huge step for a once-heralded prospect. He still flashed the same high-octane offerings that he showed pre-injury and now sits at 331 punch-outs over 287 ⅔ IP during his minor league career.

There is still plenty of concern regarding his health moving forward and his performance last season left plenty to be desired regarding his control (38 walks and six HBP in 23 games). But there is still enough potential left in the tank that he is worth taking a look at. With Helcris Olivarez departing the organization in favor of the Boston Red Sox, Marquez could be a perfect replacement for his spot in the organization.

Josh Staumont

Two years ago, Josh Staumont showed all the signs of a future closer in-the-making. With elite velocity and equally-devastating curveball, Staumont produced a strikeout-rate near 27% with a 159 ERA+ over 110 ⅔ IP in his first three big league seasons.

His production has dropped off over the past two years, however. His average fastball velocity has taken a step back but still remains in the upper-echelon of MLB pitchers but the numbers and quantity of innings were considerably less impressive. Overall, Staumont held a 6.09 ERA over 57 ⅔ IP between 2022-2023 – appearing in 63 games during that span after pitching in 64 games the year before.

The dip in his performance became more clear when he was shut down in July last season, ultimately leading to Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery. The timetable is very unclear for when he will fully recover and how he will look in his return to action. But there was also a very dominant arm that could be a massive reward if he is able to return to form.

For Colorado, this could be a perfect opportunity to offer a lower-grade year two deal with hopes that Staumont can rediscover himself over the 2024 season and become a perfect substitute for Daniel Bard’s role in 2025.

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