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Looking ahead to the Winter Meetings

Colorado Rockies news and links for Monday, December 4, 2023

The news-ticker is still at a snail’s pace when it comes to the Colorado Rockies but there is an opportunity for it to start picking up. So far, the big news surrounding the organization has been a trade with the Cleveland Guardians to acquire Cal Quantrill, the waiver-claim of LHP Jalen Beeks from the Tampa Bay Rays and a handful of internal roster moves during the non-tender deadline.

It’s largely been due diligence to this point, but that is true of most teams at this point in the year. The only major free agent splash to this point has been Sonny Gray inking a three-year pact with the St. Louis Cardinals – otherwise the breaking news has mostly been ancillary deals for role-players.

But Sunday marked the official start of MLB’s Winter Meetings, hosted this year in Nashville, Tennessee. Traditionally, this is the period of the winter where the most action takes place with agents and club management all together in the same place at the same time.

For the Rockies, this could lead to more roster maneuvering or possibly GM Bill Schmidt ironing out the details of a trade that could shape the franchise moving forward. The rumors will swirl on how much (or little) of that actually takes place – but there are also numerous important events coming in the next few days that will impact the franchise, as well.

With that in mind, let’s look over the upcoming schedule for the 2023 MLB Winter Meetings.

Rule 5 Draft

Historically, Colorado has not been a big player in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft. In the past ten years, the Rockies have only selected two players that stuck with the organization – Jordan Sheffield from the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2020 and Tommy Kahnle out of the New York Yankees organization in 2013.

They have shown a habit of using their picks in other ways, however. This is exemplified by their selection of Kevin Kelly out of the Cleveland organization last year – quickly flipping him to Tampa Bay for cash considerations. Kelly spent the entire year in a talented Rays pitching staff — which goes to show that there can be big league contributors found in this process.

The Rockies hold the third overall selection this year, essentially giving them the pick of the litter if they so choose. There are some intriguing names available in the draft pool this year and the ever pitching-needy Rockies could consider an arm from a crop that was well reviewed by Jacob Markle over at the Detroit Tigers SB Nation blog Bless You Boys.

Space would need to be cleared for any such pick, first, as Colorado currently has a full 40-man roster. Beside the possible acquisitions, the Rockies could also be in a position to see a departure from the organization as well with any of their Rule-5 players left unprotected. The MLB Pipeline team tabbed INF Aaron Schunk as the most intriguing player left exposed by Colorado.

MLB Draft Lottery

This could arguably be the most important headline of the off-season for the Rockies. After their disastrous 59-103 performance in 2023, Colorado finished with the third-worst record in baseball – giving them equal 18.3% odds with the Kansas City Royals and Oakland A’s to land the top pick in the 2024 amateur draft.

The Rockies have never held the top-overall selection in the amateur draft. The highest they have ever selected is second-overall back in the historic 2006 draft — selecting Greg Reynolds out of Stanford University.

That selection…did not age well. But, with the new draft lottery format, the Rockies have an opportunity to not only secure another top-three draft selection in 2024 – but possibly the top-overall selection for the first time in franchise history.

…or they could slide out of the top-five like the A’s, Royals and Cincinnati Reds did in the inaugural lottery. We’ll have to wait until Tuesday to find out the results, but it’s an exciting time for a Colorado fan base trying to look forward to the future.

The 2024 draft preview is still in its infancy, but so far there is a trio of collegiate hitters headlining a class that does not have a clear top-talent at the moment. There will be plenty more to play out as we get into the spring. But, for now, Colorado may not seem positioned to nab a generational talent like the 2023 draft class offered.

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Leyland, postseason manager extraordinaire, elected to Hall | mlb.com

The start off the Winter Meetings was the Contemporary Baseball Non-Players Committee Hall of Fame Ballot, which was conducted on Sunday. The lone inductee was Jim Leyland — manager of the Colorado Rockies during the 1999 season. Leyland was best known for his time with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Florida Marlins and Detroit Tigers. He was 72-90 in his lone season in Colorado.

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