SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Spring Training is a time to be optimistic, and a time to be bold. The top item on this list of predictions for Rockies camp, well, it’s one and not the other. But with spring in the air, this list won’t be a total downer.
Star 3B Arenado will be dealt, sooner rather than later
This isn’t what you want as you scrape away snow in Denver. Let’s face it -- almost no one wants this. But with so much buzz, and with high-profile teams having a need for either Nolan Arenado or the Cubs’ Kris Bryant, the time is right for a flurry of phone calls and even serious proposals.
It is complicated. The Cubs have the added burden of trying to keep their payroll below $208 million to avoid the luxury tax. The Rockies have touted a team capable of getting back to the postseason, which would make three trips in four years. A conventional one-for-one trade pushes the Cubs’ payroll higher and trades one star for another, but doesn’t help the Rockies with needs elsewhere.
The Braves, Cardinals, Phillies, Mets and Rangers all could use a hot-corner burning star -- and may be willing to make a major trade this time of year to get one. And while Arenado has not acknowledged whether he has requested or demanded that the Rockies trade him, his words of feeling a sense of “disrespect” show where his thoughts are.
This prediction isn’t fun to write. But if you disagree, take heart. Someone sees it your way.
This is not suggesting it should happen. In fact, if the Rockies do not receive immediate pitching help, immediate offensive production and one or two prospects, a deal should not happen.
Hilliard will carry end-of-the-season excitement into Cactus League
Gifted with linebacker size, sprinter speed and a swing designed to lift balls out of Coors Field to all areas, left-handed-hitting rookie left fielder Sam Hilliard can grab a regular job with a good spring. But it’s not going to be handed to him. Manager Bud Black has set up competition, so Hilliard would have to overcome right-handed-hitting Ian Desmond and left-handed-hitting Raimel Tapia. Should Hilliard light up camp, Black would protect him early by using Desmond and Tapia at times, depending on matchups and how Hilliard is swinging.
Healthy Davis will re-assume closer role
Other than the starting rotation, the bullpen is the most vital unit. With an established closer performing well, the Rockies can use their power-armed relievers as bridges and setup men.
How important is Wade Davis’ health to his viability? Before going to the injured list with a left oblique strain last season, he had a 2.45 ERA and seven saves in 15 outings. In 33 games after his return, he had an 11.89 ERA. The ability to add to their bullpen -- Pat Neshek in 2017, Seunghwan Oh in ’18 -- is a strong suit.
The second and third predictions coming true will bring added excitement if No. 1 is delightfully wrong.