Any discussion of the baseball world right now has to start with the Los Angeles Dodgers signing the greatest player in the world to a gargantuan 10-year, $700MM contract. Every non-Dodgers fan is bitter at the moment, but Shohei Ohtani now calling the National League West home for the foreseeable future cuts a little deeper for fans that share the same division as his new squad – which includes the Colorado Rockies.
The Dodgers flashing their wallets is nothing new. In 2021 they locked up Mookie Betts to a 12-year, $365MM deal after acquiring him from the Boston Red Sox before he was set to hit free agency. They followed that move up by plucking Freddie Freeman from the open market with a $162MM deal over six years.
When discussing the free-market, capitalist structure of Major League Baseball it’s easy to cry out over unfair advantages that larger markets like Los Angeles and New York have, affording them the luxury of being able to out-spend any of their competitors. While there is plenty more context to this discussion – competitive balance taxes and compensation, to start – the simple fact remains that very few organizations can spend $1.227 billion over three years.
So how are the Rockies meant to compete with someone like the Dodgers? Well, the same question is being asked by approximately 20 other teams around the league.
The answer is that they’re not. At least, not by trying to beat them at their own game.
The Texas Rangers just took home their first title thanks to heavy investing that led to a $251MM payroll – fourth-highest in baseball in 2023. They topped the Arizona Diamondbacks who sat 21st with a $119MM payroll.
Texas first reconstructed and then reinforced their organization after years in the basement while the D-Backs have undergone a similar approach to return to relevance. The Rangers finally reached paydirt with their approach while Arizona’s runner-up finish showed they still have holes to patch on their roster.
Arizona is a clear contender as the reigning NL pennant winner, but other hopefuls have been active on the free agent market like the St. Louis Cardinals signing Sonny Gray to multi-year deal and the Mets taking a flier on Luis Severino. On the trade front, the Atlanta Braves have been active buyers on the trade market with additions like Jarred Kelenic and David Fletcher.
Other NL clubs are reshaping their organization so far this off-season. The biggest example is the San Diego Padres, who essentially threw in the towel on their mega-team experiment with a deal that sent Juan Soto and Trent Grisham to the New York Yankees for a five-player package. The Milwaukee Brewers made a larger move for the future of their organization, locking-up top prospect Jackson Chourio to a guaranteed eight-year, $82MM deal that could be stretched into a 10-year, $142.5MM maximum value — all before his first MLB at-bat.
While all of this action has been going on, the Rockies…have made a Rule-5 selection. It was actually surprising they made that move.
Is the meat of this column pertaining to news concerning the Rockies? No, because there is no news surrounding the Rockies. They are set in their long-term goals and have found little incentive to deviate from the course thus far.
Are they delusional enough to believe they’re a win-now contender and looking to sell the farm in a trade or break the bank with a free-agent signing? No, so it is understandable there are no seismic deals in the works on that front.
But are they also any closer to knocking on the door of contention the way Texas and Arizona became in recent seasons? It’s hard to see how that could be the case.
So if the club truly believes in the core it is developing, it should be aiming to bolster the talent surrounding that group for when their time comes and explore locking-up that talent at a cost-efficient rate as Milwaukee did with Chourio.
Because the Rockies are not competing with the Dodgers, but the rest of the league. And, at this time, the rest of the league is doing plenty more to plan for their future than Colorado – who is showing little interest in doing more than waiting for the future to arrive.
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Thomas Harding provides detailed information in the the performance lab center training center set up to open in the club’s Salt River complex next month. With a small research and development department, Colorado hopes the biomechanical readings collected in the lab and in-game through performance monitors will help the organization create a smoother development and instruction process through easier access to information for players and coaches — ultimately leading to improved performance and ability to detect and correct flaws more quickly.
“In the past, they’ve been bringing the data to us, and we’ve been interpreting and integrating it into our practice plans,” Wilson said. “Now we can go at it the other way. ‘I want to send you home with four things that we know serves you for things that you love, that have helped you in the actual game, and things that we’ve measured.’”
More information from Sarah Wexler on the record-setting 10-year, $700 million contract between Ohtani and the Dodgers.
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