clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Rockies finally did what was needed at the Trade Deadline

Colorado Rockies news and links for Thursday, August 3rd, 2023

After years of baffling inaction at the MLB Trade Deadline, the Colorado Rockies finally did what fans have pleaded for since 2019: The became sellers at the deadline. After four-straight (soon to be five) losing seasons, two alienated superstars, and a change in general managers, the Rockies traded away multiple veteran players in exchange for a key organizational need. Older players on expiring or short-term contracts were dealt for minor league pitchers and prospects while clearing roster space for younger players to get more playing time.

1B/DH Mike Moustakas to LAA for RHP Connor Van Scoyoc

The first domino to fall was a month before the deadline but a promising sign of things to come. After a 25-1 beatdown at the hands of the Los Angeles Angels, the Rockies sent Mike Moustakas across the diamond. Moustakas signed with the Rockies in spring training after being designated for assignment by the Cincinnati Reds. With the Reds paying the majority of his contract, the Rockies were paying Moustakas only $336,777 according to Spotrac.

In exchange for Moustakas, the Rockies received 23-year old minor league pitcher Connor Van Scoyoc. A right-handed starter, Van Scoyoc had been putting together a solid season with the High-A Tri-City Dust Devils. He made 11 starts and posted a 2.76 ERA with 56 strikeouts. Van Scoyoc was assigned to the High-A Spokane Indians, where he made four more starts with a 3.33 ERA and 22 more strikeouts before being promoted to the Double-A Hartford Yard Goats.

His first start in Hartford was a little bumpy, lasting just 3 13 innings while he yielded eight earned runs on eight hits and three walks, but he also struck out three batters and has time to adjust to this more difficult level of professional ball.

RHP Pierce Johnson to ATL for RHP Victor Vodnik and RHP Tanner Gordon

It was a surprise when Rockies parted ways with Denver native Pierce Johnson, sending him to the Atlanta Braves. The Faith Christian Academy alumni was signed to a one-year, $5 million deal.

On the surface Johnson was having an uneven season. In 43 appearances and 39 innings, he posted a 6.00 ERA, but he also earned his first 13 career saves. What likely tantalized the Braves were his numbers away from Coors Field. In 16 road innings, Johnson had a 3.94 ERA with 29 strikeouts while allowing just one home run.

In exchange for Johnson, the Rockies received two of the Braves’ top 30 organizational prospects in right-handed pitchers Victor Vodnik and Tanner Gordon.

Vodnik was the Braves’ no. 10 prospect and now ranks at no. 22 for the Rockies. He projects as a reliever with a lively fireball of a four-seam fastball, averaging over 96 MPH that can hit triple digits. He excels at striking batters out with a 12.4 K/9 so far this season, but struggles with command and walks. Vodnik has been assigned to Double-A Hartford where he has already made two shutout appearances over three innings.

Gordon was the Braves’ no. 26 prospect but is unranked in the Rockies’ deep system. Projected as a back-end starter, the 6’5’’ righty has a low-to-mid 90s fastball with some carry, as well as a solid slider and a changeup. Gordon has already seen some action as high as Triple-A this season but struggled over six starts before being demoted to Double-A. He has been assigned to Double-A Hartford, where he pitched for 5 23 innings in his first start. He struck out six batters, walked two, and gave up two earned runs on five hits.

1B CJ Cron and OF Randal Grichuk to LAA for RHP Jake Madden and LHP Mason Albright

Potentially the biggest move of the deadline, the Rockies moved on from two of their best offensive players this season. CJ Cron still has the second-most home runs on the team with 11 while Grichuk hit .308/.365/.496 in a Rockies uniform despite missing time early in the season. Both in the final year of their respective contracts, they return to the team that originally drafted them and have a chance to help Shohei Ohtani and their former teammate Mike Moustakas make a playoff push.

The Rockies also sent $2 million to the Angels to increase the value of the prospects they received. By doing so, they obtained Angels no. 8 overall prospect RHP Jake Madden and no. 28 overall prospect LHP Mason Albright. (Both have been assigned to the Low-A Fresno Grizzlies.)

Madden, now the Rockies’ no. 20 prospect, is a 6’6’’ righty with an even bigger 60-grade fastball that can regularly hit 98 MPH. He also has a strong slider and a solid changeup. That being said, Madden needs to work on his command and delivery. The 2022 fourth round pick has made 14 starts with Low-A Inland Empire while posting a 5.46 ERA, 66 strikeouts, and 39 walks. MLB Pipeline suggests that as the 21-year old adds strength and fills out his tall frame, he might find more command and increase his strikeout potential.

Mason Albright became the Rockies’ no. 21 trade with the move to Colorado. Also a starter with Inland Empire, he is a command-and-feel pitcher with an arsenal of breaking pitches to compliment his low-to-mid-90s fastball. Albright has a 50-grade cutter, changeup, and curve enhanced by his deceptive left-handed delivery. Albright has made 15 appearances (14 starts) with Inland Empire and has an ERA of 3.62 with 86 strikeouts to 20 walks.

LHP Brad Hand to ATL for RHP Alec Barger

There’s always a market for left-handed relievers at the deadline, and journeyman Brad Hand found himself moved to the Atlanta Braves as they continued to collect ammunition for their bullpen. Hand was on a one-year deal with a mutual option for 2024.

Although unranked in the Braves system and now the Rockies system, Alec Barger is an interesting acquisition. Having been converted exclusively to relief pitching, Barger has been a consistent strikeout pitcher with a 12.6 K/9 in 2022 and 11.3 so far in 2023. In 30 appearances with the Double-A Mississippi Braves this season, he has posted a 3.29 ERA over 38 13 innings working late in ballgames. He also has five saves.

Barger throws both a four-seam fastball that tops out at 97 MPH as well as a sinker, while his primary breaking pitch is a slider that hits in the mid-80s. His pitch mix allows him to get both strikeouts and ground ball outs. Interestingly, Barger went to high school with his former Braves and new Hartford teammate Tanner Gordon at Champaign Central High School in Illinois.

Cash considerations to LAD for LHP Justin Bruihl

The final, and somewhat under-the-radar move was the Rockies’ acquisition of MLB left-handed reliever Justin Bruihl from Los Angeles Dodgers for cash. Bruihl was designated for assignment as a casualty of the Dodgers’ other deadline moves, specifically bringing in Joe Kelly and Lance Lynn. However, Bruihl has the potential to be a solid addition to the bullpen.

Bruihl was signed as an amateur free agent by the Dodgers in 2017 and made his MLB debut in 2021. Over 85 big league appearances, he has a career ERA of 3.65 in 66 23 innings pitched. Bruihl had already made 20 appearances for the Dodgers this season with 19 strikeouts over 24 13 innings before being designated for assignment. A soft-tossing, command-focused lefty, Bruihl mixes a sinker, slider, and cutter to generate ground balls and is especially tough on left-handed hitters.

What the Rockies didn’t do

Notably, the Rockies held on to three of their veteran players this deadline. Brent Suter has enjoyed success with the Rockies this season, and they may look to sign him again this offseason as a veteran presence in a very young bullpen.

The Rockies also kept Jurickson Profar and Harold Castro, neither of whom were likely to draw heavy interest on the trade market. The Rockies’ young players will need more opportunities, so these two veterans will likely see their playing time diminish to allow rookies to show what they’ve got.

Even if the Rockies weren’t able to trade all of their veterans and expiring contracts, what is important is that they did what needed to be done this year.

★ ★ ★

Austin Gomber looks to continue dominance for Rockies after incredible month of July | Rox Pile

Thomas Murray over at Rox Pile discusses the strong month of July from Rockies left-handed starter Austin Gomber, who looks to build on his success despite the Rockies being out of contention and sellers at the deadline.

Freeland analyzes recent performance following loss |

“It’s very frustrating,” Freeland said. “The second year of this contract, definitely not how I pictured things for myself and this team. It’s tough on me. We all want to win. We all want to have success. And we all want to be in the playoffs, playing meaningful baseball.

“Right now it seems every time you look down that tunnel looking for the light, it just keeps moving further and further away.”

★ ★ ★

On the Farm

Triple-A: Albuquerque Isotopes 19, Las Vegas Aviators 6

An eight run seventh inning was the highlight of the offensive might the Isotopes demonstrated against the Aviators. All but two ‘Topes batters had multiple hits on the night as they scored 19 runs on 17 hits. Daniel Montaño was the star of the show, going 3-for-5 with three RsBI, two runs scored, and two walks. Montaño was a double shy of the cycle and helped bust the game wide open with a two-run home run in the fifth inning. Jameson Hannah also reached safely five times in his first game back with the Isotopes since April. Josh Rogers pitched a solid four run outing in six innings of work, striking out three batters. Gavin Hollowell pitched a scoreless frame of relief while Kyle Johnston gave up two earned runs in two innings of work after the game was already well and truly out of reach for the Aviators.

Double-A: Reading Fightin’ Phils 8, Hartford Yard Goats 2

Case Williams struck out eight batters in 4 23 innings of work, but also gave up five earned runs on six hits and two walks against the Fightin’ Phils. Finn Del Bonta Smith also had his strike out stuff working as he fanned three batters in 1 13 innings, but he yielded three earned runs. Dylan Spain worked two scoreless and hitless innings while Bryce McGowan struck out two in a scoreless ninth inning. The Yard Goats’ two runs were scored off the bat of Grant Lavigne, who connected for a two-run home run in the fifth inning.

High-A: Everett Aqua-Sox 4, Spokane Indians 3

Despite holding the lead for six innings, the Indians coughed up the victory late when Keegan James and Angel Chivilli gave up three unanswered runs starting in the seventh inning. Starter Mason Green gave up one earned run through 4 13 innings while striking out five batters, but he also walked three. Tyler Ahearn looked strong in 1 23 innings of relief in which he allowed just one hit and struck out four batters. The Indians were just 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position while scoring three runs on five hits. Nic Kent hit his ninth home run of the year while Benny Montgomery returned to action with a double after a scary looking collision the other day. Sean Bouchard made a rehab start with the Indians in right field and was 0-for-2.

Low-A: Fresno Grizzlies 7, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes 2

Oh hey, we know that guy! Mason Albright had an excellent debut for the Grizzlies by working five shutout innings. He gave up two hits and walked two batters while striking out a whopping nine during his first start with the Rockies organization. Austin Becker and Braxton Hyde both pitched scoreless innings out of the bullpen, though Javier Ramos gave up two earned runs on two walks and two hits in his two innings of work. Ramos also struck out three batters. Skyler Messinger was the offensive MVP of the game, going 3-for-4 with two RsBI. Jesus Bugarin also had two RsBI in a 1-for-3 night and Bryant Betancourt went 2-for-3.

★ ★ ★

Please keep in mind our Purple Row Community Guidelines when you’re commenting. Thanks!