Bryant’s lengthy and expensive contract includes a full no-trade clause and has felt more and more like like a weight on the Rockies’ shoulders after two seasons. The former MVP and World Series champion of the Chicago Cubs has logged only 122 games with his new team over the first two seasons of his deal. He has spent extensive time on the injured list with a variety of ailments from back issues and plantar fasciitis to a finger fracture after getting hit by a pitch three times in just one series.
Moving into the 2024 season there are even more question marks surrounding Bryant.
After his injuries and difficulty playing the outfield, general manager Bill Schmidt has indicated the plan for Bryant is to play first base and designated hitter with occasional forays into right field. The problem that arises from that move is that Bryant would effectively block players like Elehuris Montero, Michael Toglia, and Hunter Goodman from playing time, especially with Charlie Blackmon due back next season.
There is also the question of whether Bryant can ever find some semblance of his former production in a Rockies uniform. Bryant posted some decent numbers when he was on the field in 2022, going .306/.376/.475 in 181 plate appearances with five home runs, 12 doubles, and 14 runs batted in. In 2023 while playing in roughly twice the games, Bryant hit roughly twice the home runs and had twice the RsBI. However, he had fewer doubles, negligibly more walks, and hit just .233/.313/.367 in 335 plate appearances.
Bryant’s contract has definitely been a disappointment so far, but perhaps not as much as another moribund Colorado professional sports franchise.
Elsewhere in lower downtown, things aren’t looking particularly rosy for the Denver Broncos. Before the 2022 NFL season the Broncos traded a king’s ransom in draft picks and players to the Seattle Seahawks for their embattled but potential-Hall-of-Fame quarterback Russell Wilson. They then signed Wilson—sight unseen—to a five year, $245 million contract extension.
Broncos Country teemed with excitement when Wilson appeared at the Rockies’ Opening Day that April.
He then suffered a truly awful 2022 campaign in which he struggled with injuries and barely threw more touchdowns than he had bathrooms in his home, leading the Broncos to a 4-11 record and the firing of first time head coach Nathaniel Hackett before the season ended.
Wilson has looked better on paper this season, throwing 26 touchdowns to 8 interceptions through 15 games with a 98.0 quarterback rating that is much more in line with his career numbers.
Off paper, however, Wilson has struggled to see over his offensive line, been sacked 45 times, and drawn the ire of veteran head coach Sean Payton. After losing three of their last four games with the most recent miserable loss coming at the hands of the New England Patriots, it seems enough is enough. Russell Wilson has been benched for backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham despite the team still having a chance at making the playoffs.
If this is the end of Russell Wilson’s tenure in Denver and he is released after June 1st, 2024, his time in Denver might go down as one of the worst trades and contracts in both Broncos and NFL history.
In two seasons he has cost the Broncos almost as much as Kris Bryant’s entire guaranteed contract at $124 million, and unlike Major League Baseball, the National Football League has a salary cap. Cutting Wilson will cost the Broncos $35.4 million in dead cap money next season, and another $49.6 million in 2025.
In addition to the dead cap, Wilson will make an additional $37 million in guaranteed money if he sustains an injury before the season ends that would cause him to fail a physical. It was revealed that the Broncos had threatened to bench Wilson much earlier in the season if he did not rework the injury guarantee in his contract. Worse still, if Jarrett Stidham is injured in either of the last two games of the season, Wilson would go in as the backup quarterback. If he were to be injured, that $37 million guaranteed would vest and cost the Broncos even more money.
Although the season is not yet over, things aren’t looking particularly sunny in Broncos Country, even compared to the Colorado Rockies. While the Rockies may be coming off their worst season in franchise history with 103 losses, they actually have more recent success than the Broncos.
Since the Broncos last won the Super Bowl in 2015, they have a record of 51-78 and a winning percentage of just .395 with zero playoff appearances. Meanwhile the Rockies have a winning percentage of .461 and a record of 551-643 dating back to the year Kris Bryant won the World Series and was crowned MVP. They also have two playoff appearances in 2017 and 2018, and even a playoff win when counting the Wild Card.
While he will probbly never live up to his contract, Bryant at least has some promise at 31-years-old that he might recoup some of the cost and help lead a very young Rockies team to better days. Broncos fans, though, aren’t so lucky. The 35-year-old Wilson’s departure will likely have long lasting ramifications both financially and in terms of team construction.
The Broncos have very few draft picks to work with in the upcoming draft, having parted with many of them to bring in Wilson, and then to bring in Sean Payton in an attempt to fix Wilson. This will make it harder to bring in new young talent to one of the league’s ten oldest teams. They will also have to hunt for a new franchise quarterback through either the draft or a weak free agent class.
The Rockies at least have a strong and underrated farm system to bring in fresh talent to the organization while also owning the third overall pick in the 2024 draft.
It’s not often Rockies fans can say their team is in better shape than the NFL team that competes for attention in the same city. For now do we say “Rockies Country, let’s ride?”
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The Rockies may be in a rebuild, but the farm system is bearing fruit. Tanner Vogt over at Rox Pile outlines four prospects the Rockies should hang on dearly to: Cole Carrigg, Robert Calaz, Chase Dollander, and Sean Sullivan.
Our friends over at Pitcher List take a look at Rockies players to seek out and those to avoid in your upcoming fantasy drafts. Despite predicting regression, Nolan Jones makes the cut as a potential sleeper, as does Ezequiel Tovar and Brendan Rodgers. Like most seasons, you should probably avoid Rockies starting pitching unless you have to, and Cal Quantrill is no exception.
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