The Colorado Rockies wrapped up another typical season of tremendous offensive production, but poor pitching. With the offseason in full swing and the Winter Meetings coming up, the Rockies must address specific needs if they want to compete in 2017.
Colorado Rockies 2016 Offseason Needs
1. Trade for a Top-Tier Pitcher
The 2016-2017 starting pitching free agent class is weak. The Rockies have enough pitching, but not enough good pitching. None of the current free agent pitchers look to good enough to come into Coors Field and replace any of the incumbents.
Therefore, they should trade from their abundance of offense to get some top pitching. This is very open-ended and there are countless potential deals to be made.
Trade for Zack Greinke
One option would be to trade for Zack Greinke. He definitely struggled in his first year with the Arizona Diamondbacks, but is still a top pitcher. If anything, his struggles make him more available now than ever. Given his big contract, the Diamondbacks may not hesitate to trade him elsewhere. Perhaps trading DJ LeMahieu for Greinke and cash would work.
If the Diamondbacks want to have any money to spend in the future, then Greinke has to go. They would also be adding a second baseman who just won a batting title. They could move Chris Owings to shortstop and put the newly-acquired Ketel Marte on the bench, giving them solid infield depth. The Rockies would be selling LeMahieu when his value is highest and adding an ace.
Make a Deal for a Mets Pitcher
If a deal for Greinke doesn’t work out, the Rockies could always turn to the New York Mets, who they’ve been paired with in trade rumors for years. Though Bartolo Colon signed with the Atlanta Braves, the Mets have a surplus of pitching once everybody gets healthy. They will have Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Steven Matz, Robert Gsellman, and Seth Lugo.
Harvey and Wheeler have surfaced in trade rumors before and could be potentially available. Also, Lugo and Gsellman’s future is murky once everybody comes back. They have proven they should be starters; instead of pushing them both to the bullpen, the Mets could trade one or both of them.
2. Trade for Ian Kennedy
This is not as open-ended as the previous need. The Rockies should trade for Ian Kennedy of the Kansas City Royals. This is not a common idea held by many, but it actually makes sense for both teams.
The Case for Kennedy
The Rockies need a lot of quality help in the pitching department. With the pitching market so weak, they will have to get creative with trades if they want to compete.
Why Kennedy? For starters, if they get a high-level pitcher like Greinke, they will then have to look at more economical pitchers in terms of prospects and money. Also, Colorado can’t simply look for any talented pitcher to come into Coors and pitch well. Even the best pitchers have failed at that task.
Kennedy, however, has actually pitched well at Coors. In 62.2 innings, he has a 3.16 ERA. Among pitchers with more innings pitched at Coors, only Tyler Anderson‘s 3.00 ERA is lower.
Why This Can Work
One of the biggest problems with this trade would be Kennedy’s availability. His name hasn’t been part of many trade rumors. However, he was thought to be available near the trade deadline back in July.
The Royals are paying him a lot of money at a time when that could restrict their future success. Next year, they will have multiple free agents and not enough money to retain them all. Most of those players would be more worthwhile to keep. Therefore, if the Rockies contacted the Royals, a deal could be realistic.
If the Rockies were willing to take on his entire salary, they probably wouldn’t need to give up any big prospects. On the flip-side, if Colorado gave up some decent prospects, the Royals may be willing to eat some of his backloaded contract.
3. Address the Bullpen
The Rockies finished dead last in bullpen ERA, at 5.13 ERA. Luckily for them, there are some big-name closers on the free agent market. Of course, these guys will cost an arm and a leg so they have to spend wisely.
If the Rockies Don’t Address the Previous Two Needs:
The reason why this need is third is because the Rockies will have to play the reliever market by ear. If they fulfill the first two needs, their rotation could consist of Greinke, Kennedy, Tyler Chatwood, Chad Bettis, and Jorge De La Rosa. Anderson and Chris Rusin, who in limited starts had ERAs of 3.54 and 3.74, respectively, could technically be in that mix. At the very least, they can be the next men up if anyone falters. That also gives 24-year-old Jon Gray a chance to perfect his craft, either in the bullpen or the minors.
If the Rockies can’t get that type of pitching, they should pursue an elite closer. While Adam Ottavino did a solid job during his seven saves, replacing him would strengthen the entire bullpen. That would give the Rockies both an elite closer and setup man.
One option is Mark Melancon. Over the last couple of years, he has been one of the top closers in baseball. In 2015, he saved 51 games to go along with a 2.23 ERA. In 2016, he notched 47 saves and a 1.64 ERA. He would be a good fit for any team, which is why he is drawing interest from many.
Another option is Aroldis Chapman. Chapman helped the Chicago Cubs win their first World Series in 108 years and is looking to cash in on his performance from the last few seasons. Early reports said he was looking for a $100 million deal. That is certainly an amount of money the Rockies should stay away from. If that price came down to earth, then Colorado should inquire.
If the Rockies Address the Previous Two Needs:
A bullpen arm of the likes of Chapman or Melancon isn’t as big a priority if they can solidify the rotation. In that case, inexpensive relievers like Jerry Blevins make more sense. If they can’t replace a rotation that hasn’t pitched well enough to keep the Rockies relevant, then closers like Chapman or Melancon should be a priority.
The time of the Rockies signing low-level pitchers and seeing who sticks should end. They must get serious about who they sign and trade for if they want pitching that isn’t perennially poor.