The Rockies have dropped seven of their last ten games, falling into last place in the NL West. They’re set to miss the postseason for the fourth consecutive year, but they remain opposed to any kind of dramatic overhaul. General manager Bill Schmidt flatly rejected the idea of a rebuild earlier this month, and it seems likely they’ll hold onto most or all of their shorter-term players as well.
Closer Daniel Bard and first baseman C.J. Cron have drawn reported interest over the past few weeks, but the Rox haven’t seemed especially urgent to move either player. That remains the case, as both Danielle Allentuck of the Colorado Spring Gazette and Nick Groke of the Athletic relay that neither is likely to be dealt. Both Allentuck and Groke write that Colorado is optimistic about its chances of signing the 37-year-old Bard to a contract extension that’d keep him from hitting the open market this winter as scheduled. Cron, meanwhile, is already under contract for next season at a modest $7.5MM salary.
Speaking with reporters yesterday, Colorado manager Bud Black metaphorically suggested the Rockies have been underwhelmed with the trade offers they’ve received on their veteran players. “We’re fielding calls. We’ve got some players who are desirable,” Black said. “And I can’t speak to it, but I’ll give you some perspective. Team A might call on one of our players and their front office might say, ‘We like this guy.’ And our front office will say, ‘Well, yeah, he’s a good player, you should be on that player. … But this happens a little bit, too. Hey, you guys have a Range Rover. We’ll take your Range Rover and we’ll give you our Honda Accord.’ And teams expect you to do that. Why would we do that? ‘How could you not trade your Range Rover?’ Because we might try to keep our Range Rover! Rather than trade it for your Subaru!”
The Rockies actions in recent seasons have reflected a similar sentiment. While most non-contenders are happy to take the best offer on the table for the bulk of their impending free agents, Colorado declined to trade any of Cron, Jon Gray or Trevor Story at last year’s deadline. It paid off in Cron’s case, as they eventually agreed to a two-year extension and have been rewarded with the slugger’s .280/.335/.521 showing this season. Gray and Story departed in free agency, however, and Colorado received no compensation for the former after surprisingly deciding against issuing him a qualifying offer.
They’re set to adopt a similar approach to this summer’s deadline. Groke writes that Colorado is also hoping to extend starter Chad Kuhl, who’s slated for free agency this winter himself. The righty has expressed openness to staying in Denver, and the organization shares the desire to keep him around. The 29-year-old signed a $3MM guarantee over the winter after being non-tendered by the Pirates. He’s made 19 starts and soaked up 98 innings with mixed results.
Kuhl had excellent numbers early on, carrying a 3.56 ERA through the end of May. He’s hit a major rough patch of late, though, allowing five-plus runs in three of his last five starts while failing to work into the sixth inning on any occasion. Since tossing a complete game shutout against the Dodgers on June 27, he’s allowed 22 runs in 20 2/3 innings. That has brought his season line up to a 4.78 ERA with a personal-low 16.6% strikeout rate.
Spotty recent run notwithstanding, there’s some merit to the Rox’s desire to hold onto Kuhl beyond this season. He’s handled himself well at Coors Field, pitching to a 4.17 ERA while holding opponents to a manageable .258/.313/.428 line through nine home starts. Largely thanks to a quality slider, he’s mostly done well against right-handed batters. Kuhl’s lack of a trustworthy changeup has always contributed to marked platoon concerns, but his sinker-slider mix generally aligns with those of pitchers (i.e. Gray, Kyle Freeland, Antonio Senzatela) whom the Rockies have relied upon in recent years. Depending on the price point, keeping Kuhl around as a lower-cost option at the back of the rotation is defensible — particularly since the trade demand from other clubs figures to be modest given his numbers this month.
Shortstop José Iglesias and right-hander Alex Colomé are each ticketed for free agency as well. Igleias, as a contact-oriented infielder, could hold modest appeal to contenders looking for utility depth. Colomé doesn’t miss many bats, but he’s a solid strike-thrower and ground-ball specialist in the middle innings. Whether Colorado will deal either for a lower-level prospect or two remains to be seen, although both Allentuck and Groke posit that Colomé is the likeliest player on the roster to be traded.
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