5 questions for the Rockies to answer in the offseason

October 25th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Thomas Harding’s Rockies Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

At the end of April, Rockies general manager Bill Schmidt looked at a rising D-backs team and declared them “a year or so ahead of us.

That was before the D-backs hit the accelerator and made underrated moves en route to an unexpected World Series berth, and the Rockies went the other way by trading veterans for prospects and speeding toward the worst record (59-103) in their history.

But the Rockies can still look at a parallel. The D-backs, their World Series opponents, the Rangers, and the American League East champion Orioles all finished in triple figures in losses just two seasons ago. However long it takes, how do the Rockies cover the distance?


1. Where will the starting pitching come from?

Lefties Kyle Freeland and Austin Gomber were the best the Rockies had, and each was inconsistent. But they have to lead the 2024 rotation. Because of Tommy John surgery, Germán Márquez won’t return until after the All-Star break and Antonio Senzatela won’t be seen until August. The rest of the folks in tow are best described as developing.

The Rockies won’t play at the top of the free-agent market, and pitchers looking for lengthy deals or those who believe there is another contract down the road tend not to choose to pitch at Coors Field. Three vets who helped this year and are free agents -- righties Chase Anderson and Chris Flexen, and lefty Ty Blach -- will be in play. But expect the Rockies to push for a late-career starter of some repute, or possibly a pitcher trying to re-establish value. The best route to a quality starter may be via trade. But the road to improvement must begin with improved starting pitching.

2. Who do the Rockies deal?

Brendan Rodgers, the 2022 National League Gold Glove second baseman, came up in trade talks last winter with the Marlins and Mariners, according to reports and Major League sources. There was more traction with the Marlins regarding Edward Cabrera, whose status offered six years of club control, but nothing materialized.

Rodgers, who missed much of the year with a dislocated left shoulder but played well in the final weeks, is an established player in his second year of arbitration. Of the players on the Major League roster, he is most in-play for trade talks.

After 2015, then-GM Jeff Bridich acquired Márquez -- an undervalued prospect -- and reliever Jake McGee from the Rays for arbitration-eligible outfielder Corey Dickerson and Minor League utilityman Kevin Padlo. Márquez debuted in late ‘16 and was part of playoff rotations in ‘17 and ‘18.

Could the Rockies deal Rodgers in a repeat of that strategy?

3. Is there a willingness to trade prospects?

Last offseason, Schmidt acquired Rookie of the Year candidate Nolan Jones by sending infielder Juan Brito -- who has risen to No. 6 in the Guardians chain. So, maybe.

The Rockies could keep Rodgers, who is part of a solid up-the-middle defense. The team has built depth in the middle infield in No. 1 prospect Adael Amador; No. 6 prospect Sterlin Thompson, who is hitting .354 in the Arizona Fall League and has spent more time at second than any other position; No. 7 prospect Dyan Jorge, and No. 20 prospect Ryan Ritter, who earned California League Most Valuable Player honors at Fresno. There is also outfield depth.

4. What’s the best way to address the bullpen?

The Rockies have expressed interest in retaining free-agent lefty Brent Suter. Last year, they signed veterans Brad Hand and Pierce Johnson in the winter, and traded each in separate deals with the Braves -- for pitching prospect depth -- when the season faltered. Expect similar pursuits of experienced relievers -- including Suter.

5. How about the catching?

Every team has a lot of catchers in their system, but the Rockies quietly believe they have catching depth. No. 9 prospect Drew Romo, taken 35th overall in 2020, and No. 11 prospect Cole Carrigg, 65th overall this year, are highly touted switch-hitters, and one-time Futures Game participant Willie MacIver and Braxton Fulford reached Triple-A this season.

But to reduce pressure on any prospect, do the Rockies extend Elias Díaz, the 2023 All-Star Game Most Valuable Player, who is headed into the final year of a three-year, $14.5 million deal?