Rox 'pen options plentiful after non-tenders
DENVER -- The Rockies' hunt for arms and bargains could lead them to some intriguing free agents -- especially for the bullpen -- and that free-agent list became more interesting late Wednesday night when players not offered contracts by their clubs came available.
As with starting pitching, the Rockies are headed to the Winter Meetings starting Monday in Nashville looking first at trades to shore up their bullpen. Last year's Winter Meetings deal that brought righty Jairo Diaz from the Angels, for infielder Josh Rutledge, showed dividends when Diaz -- having worked on his command in Triple-A -- pitched well after being called up in August and September.
The Rockies could use power arms and experience on either side. There's also the matter of closer Adam Ottavino, who is coming off Tommy John surgery and may need several weeks after the season starts to finish his recovery and ease into the closer role.
Some names on the non-tendered list could bring help. A couple are familiar. Here's a look at those pitchers and the teams they were non-tendered by:
RHP Yusmeiro Petit, Giants: The ability to pitch in long relief and start occasionally could be intriguing to the Rockies, who love versatility. Petit's strikeout-to-walk rate fell in 2015 -- 6.05 in '14 to 3.93. But there was no drop-off in velocity, and the Giants' decision appeared more based on avoiding an arbitration-induced pay increase than any issue with Petit.
RHP Steve Cishek, Cardinals: Cishek lost the closer job with the Marlins before finishing the year with the Cardinals, who chose to invest dollars elsewhere when the non-tender decision came. The Rockies have hardly seen Cishek pitch poorly -- he has eight saves and a 2.63 ERA against them overall, and five saves in six appearances (4.50 ERA) at Coors.
RHPs Al Alburquerque and Neftali Feliz, Tigers: Alburquerque, who pitched in the Rockies' system in 2009 and '10, has struggled with consistency but when on has a fastball-slider mix that could work at Coors. Feliz appears to have regained his velocity after Tommy John surgery a few years back but was inconsistent with the Rangers and Tigers last season.
RHP Juan Nicasio, Dodgers: Nicasio thrived and struggled while both starting and relieving for the Rockies from 2011-14. In his first full year as a reliever, however, Nicasio had extreme difficulty with lefty hitters.
Schlitter, Williams among Minor League signings
Righty Brian Schlitter, who pitched for the Cubs in 2010, '14 and 15, has joined the Rockies under a Minor League contract. Although non-roster invitations to Major League camp haven't been finalized, he figures to be invited.
For some depth at catcher, the club has also reached a non-roster deal with Jackson Williams, who appeared in 16 games for the Rockies in 2014 and 14 for the Giants in '15. Veteran Nick Hundley is the regular, with Dustin Garneau and Tom Murphy having received playing time at the end of the season.
The Rockies also have reached Minor League deals to retain righty relievers Simon Castro and Gonzalez Germen, who pitched for the club in 2015 but were outrighted after the season, and righty Nelson Gonzalez, who pitched at Double-A New Haven and Triple-A Albuquerque.