Rox bolster 'pen with trade for Givens

August 31st, 2020

DENVER -- The Rockies acquired veteran right-handed reliever from the Orioles, for infielder-outfielder Tyler Nevin, infielder Terrin Vavra and a player to be named or cash considerations on Sunday, the day before the Trade Deadline.

Givens, 30, who brings a 96-98 mph fastball and an effective hard slider, has stood out in a setup role for the Orioles this season (1.38 ERA, 19 strikeouts in 13 innings).

The Rockies have needed bullpen help. Right-handed setup man Scott Oberg is out for the season (blood clots), and righty Wade Davis has been on the injured list since the season’s early days with a right shoulder strain.

“He's a proven big league relief pitcher who will definitely help us,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “We're excited to have him. I know the guys in the clubhouse were excited to see the name. He’s a good one. We’ll use him in the back end of the game to help us win. He’s done that in the past.”

Sunday’s 13-2 loss to the Padres dropped the Rockies to .500 (17-17), but that merely puts them in the middle of a jumbled National League playoff race. The Rockies’ bullpen has gotten a surprise contribution from righty Daniel Bard, who has turned an inspiring story into a job as closer after Jairo Díaz hit a speed bump (he gave up a double and a home run in one inning Sunday), and on-and-off solid work from righties Carlos Estévez, Yency Almonte and Tyler Kinley.

“This isn’t the first time that we’ve actually asked on Mychal Givens over the past few years,” Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich said. “What he has done in the past fits into our later innings. There’s a lot of experience there, a lot of production.

“The numbers, everybody can see. But the way that he does it is a little bit different in terms of his mechanics, which is intriguing here. We’re excited to bring this caliber of pitcher into the fold. The fact he is around at least through next year for us was a factor as well in terms of desire for his services.”

Givens’ numbers were down the previous two years with increased closing opportunities (2-13, 4.25 ERA in 127 games). But before and after that period, he has been a valuable bridge from the starter to the late bullpen, and this season he was used in matchups against dangerous right-handed hitters.

Givens has one more year of arbitration eligibility, which made him attractive beyond what the Rockies hope is a postseason run in 2020.

This fits with Bridich’s pattern of bolstering the bullpen when the team has proven to be a contender for a postseason berth. Bridich obtained righty Pat Neshek from the Phillies in 2017, and acquired righty Seunghwan Oh from the Blue Jays in ’18. Both late pushes ended with the Rockies receiving NL Wild Card berths.

The Rockies are competing with their Sunday opponent, the Padres, for playoff seeding. The Padres (21-15) are second in the NL West, the Rockies third. Sunday was the third meeting in a four-game series.

It also was the Rockies’ answer to San Diego’s trade activity over the past two days. The Padres traded for reliever Trevor Rosenthal from Kansas City on Saturday and added slugger Mitch Moreland from the Red Sox on Sunday morning. Later Sunday, they added catcher Austin Nola and two relievers in a seven-player trade with the Mariners, then finalized a swap with the Angels that netted them another catcher in Jason Castro.

Asked if he plans to add offense before the Trade Deadline, Bridich said he’s trying.

“We certainly have other conversations that are somewhat ongoing,” he said. “We may or may not be done, I’m not sure. There’s typically a lot of action on the last day of the Deadline.”

To make the Givens deal, the Rockies showed a willingness to part with prospects.

Nevin, 23, son of Yankees third-base coach Phil Nevin, a Competitive Balance Round A Draft pick in 2015 out of Poway (Calif.) High School, was the Rockies’ No. 14 prospect according to MLB Pipeline.

Vavra, 23, was a third-round pick out of the University of Minnesota in 2018, and rated as the Rockies’ No. 7 prospect.

“I don’t know what the other offers were from other teams,” Bridich said. “I do know [Givens] was popular in terms of this Deadline. You add an All-Star type of pitcher, generally you’ve got to play a high premium.”