The Colorado Rockies have certainly been quiet this offseason. Outside of the Rule 5 draft the front office has really only made two major moves in acquiring right handed pitcher Cal Quantrill from the Cleveland Guardians and lefty reliever Jalen Beeks from the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rockies have also signed a smattering of minor league players including Matt Koch and Chance Adams.
There has been frustration over the Rockies’ quiet offseason so far, especially when it comes to transparency from an especially quiet front office and an obvious vision for the future of this team. However, it could also be argued that the offseason is going exactly as needed, even if it’s boring.
While that may be the case, both skipper Bud Black and general manager Bill Schmidt have made one thing clear: they want to bring in a veteran for the bench.
“We’re gonna look to try to help Buddy out here and put together a better bench,” Schmidt said in Nashville during the winter meetings.
It’s not necessarily a bad idea. Currently the Rockies appear set to push forward with a very young lineup. An additional veteran presence who can fill a vital need and provide quality at-bats off the bench while not eating into the playing time of younger players is an important part of any rebuilding team. While the Rockies won’t admit they’re rebuilding, it’s apparent that they’ve fallen into a rebuild whether they like it or not.
One of the best fits for the Rockies bench is ironically a familiar face. The Rockies signed Mike Moustakas to a minor league contract last offseason after he was cut by the Cincinnati Reds. Showing up to camp slimmer and feeling healthier than he had in years, Moustakas hit .367/.387/.700 during spring training with two home runs and found himself on the Opening Day Roster.
With the moose now loose in Denver, the left-handed Moustakas provided much more value than expected for a 34-year-old bench bat. Appearing in 47 games for the Rockies, he hit .270/.360/.435 with four home runs and 17 RsBI. His 105 OPS+ and 100 wRC+ remained some of the highest values on the team even after his departure, and his 12.5% walk rate was only matched by rookie powerhouse Nolan Jones. He made scattered starts at first base, third base, and designated hitter in addition to pinch hitting appearances.
Moustakas was traded to the Los Angeles Angels prior to the deadline for minor league pitcher Connor Van Scoyoc. While it accomplished the goal of obtaining pitching potential in exchange for a low cost veteran, it became clear what the Rockies had lost after the trade was complete.
A lot of hugs for Mike Moustakas as he was traded across the field to the #Angels. Man, did he make a huge impact on this org in a short amount of time. Moose told us this morning how much he loved his time with the #Rockies as you seeing him telling Bud Black, “thank you.” pic.twitter.com/H30a4nJWfD— Kelsey Wingert-Linch (@KelsWingert) June 25, 2023
Moustakas wasn’t just the bench bat, but a respected member of the clubhouse. Young players routinely asked him for advice while both his teammates and coaches valued his input and praised his desire to help others.
“It’s sad,” Moustakas said of the trade. “It’s a great group of guys over there. They gave me an opportunity to come back and play Major League Baseball this year. I’ll forever be grateful for that. I made some really good friends. I’m going to miss those guys a lot. It’s a great group. We had a lot of fun.”
Moustakas didn’t play quite as well with the Angels, hitting just .236/.256/.371 over 65 games. He also found himself starting much more frequently both at first and third base for the moribund Angels as they faltered down the stretch. However, he did hit eight more home runs and eight more doubles while driving in 31 runs.
Reuniting with Moustakas in 2024 wouldn’t be the worst of ideas. Much like Jason Giambi once did, the storied veteran understands the role he would play on Bud Black’s bench. More importantly, he appears to believe in the youth movement of the Rockies and can be an investment in their future.
“Obviously, we didn’t play as well as we should have and wanted to, but that’s a great group of guys. That’s going to be a good team here in the future.”
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Rockies Fest set to return in January 2024 | MLB.com
The Colorado Rockies are poised to bring back their fan event “Rockies Fest” in January for the first time since 2020. Manny Randhawa at MLB.com has information about the event, which will include autograph sessions, Q&A panels, and other fan experiences.
Tovar poised for ‘24 breakout for Rockies | MLB.com
In this excerpt from his latest newsletter, Thomas Harding details some of the expectations for young Rockies shortstop Ezequiel Tovar. A “coolheaded” and mature rookie at just 21-years-old, Tovar performed well but didn’t receive a single Rookie of the Year vote and missed out on the “sport-wide acclaim” of other rookies in 2023. However, that could change in 2024.
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