Inbox: Will Holland return to close for the Rox?

Beat reporter Thomas Harding answers fans' questions

December 22nd, 2017

DENVER -- Let's take some questions off Twitter, just a few days before the calendar turns.
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In my mind, Greg Holland remains the favorite to return as the Rockies' closer. Various people familiar with the situation have indicated that Holland, represented by high-profile agent Scott Boras, is interested in coming back to Colorado. The Rockies have made an offer but have been willing to keep talking. Last year, the talks went through the holiday season before Holland signed in January during the team's Winter Caravan.
With and on the market, and with trades possible -- although the Orioles' Zach Britton was crossed off the list because of a right Achilles tendon injury -- there are other ways to go.

I am not certain about Gonzalez's health situation, but I'm told the Rockies are not going down that road. Gonzalez has put up good career numbers at Coors Field. However, left-handed-hitting , a third baseman by trade who is developing into a first baseman (and plays some second), hit a combined .355 with a .986 OPS in Double-A and Triple-A. The Rockies tend not to go outside if they have a prospect ready. Look at shortstop in 2016 as an example.
• McMahon gives Rox intriguing first-base option
It's not certain McMahon is ready for everyday Major League duty. But with in the fold to play first and the outfield, and with the Rockies talking to free-agent , McMahon could be the left-handed-hitting complement until he is ready for regular duty.

I noted in the last answer that the Rockies don't bring in an outsider to block a prospect -- when he is ready. But as they shown in the outfield, when they didn't trade any number of years or last winter or so far this winter, they don't move people to force a youngster into the lineup. They will let him earn his way, but it's a little early for Rodgers, the club's No. 1 prospect according to
Rodgers was stellar in 2017, hitting .336 with a .940 OPS and 47 extra-base hits including 18 home runs. But after reaching Double-A Hartford, he suffered a right quad strain. He finished the year with Class A Advanced Lancaster in the playoffs, which meant less time at second base and none at third, where he will see some time. He played in 89 games, plus seven in the playoffs, and hasn't played more than 110 games in a professional season.
The Rockies want to develop his versatility, just in case an opening in the Majors comes because of an injury or transaction.

The Rockies have determined that power is at the top of the list of keys for pitching success. Power isn't dependent on age and experience, but it's more expensive and therefore a riskier investment. A 25-season history suggests spending more on the bullpen -- while also developing less-expensive power arms -- is smarter.
But there is one caveat. If they find themselves within smelling distance of the World Series during the season, they will have to make a serious evaluation of the top of their rotation and determine if they need to make that big trade for an experienced starter. But I don't see it happening via free agency, and I don't see history to justify it happening.
I'm not saying there aren't risks in a build-from-within approach. While the pitching proved good enough last year, injuries to outfielder and catcher Tom Murphy, and Story's struggles until the regular season's final month, meant some of the power the Rockies were hoping for didn't materialize. If young starters slump, there are more where those guys came from, but they have to be good.

Love a philosophical question, especially when you're talking about a division where the Rockies will usually be significantly outspent by the Dodgers and Giants.
Colorado will always rank high in runs and other traditional statistical categories because of Coors Field and always will have dips offensively on the road. But the Rockies must limit the wild lows, when at-bats are unproductive and situational hitting disappears for long stretches.
Since the Rockies can't always go out and buy the personnel, can they develop it? Players like Story, , Dahl, McMahon and Murphy could be keys. That could happen any time, maybe even 2018. But many Rockies have put up big numbers before, and there is no division championship banner.