Breaking down the Rockies' 40-man roster

October 26th, 2021

DENVER -- Each season, even the unlikeliest of teams dream of everything going right. It’s why in Spring Training left-handed starter Kyle Freeland said the Rockies were looking to “shock the world.” But a poor start to the season jolted them into a reality -- 2021 was a developmental year.

Go through this roster breakdown. More than a few players, certainly more players than on expected contenders, enter 2022 facing questions: Star or regular? Regular or role player? Ready for the Majors? Secure in a roster spot?

For now, 2022 is an incomplete picture. For the Rockies to do any kind of the shocking Freeland ambitiously predicted, they sorely need to add impact through free agency and trades. But there will be time to explore that. For now, here is a look at each player who is on the 40-man roster or could figure in future plans.


(third year arbitration): Slashed .125/.193/.188 through May; .283/.346/.550 from June 1 to the end -- plus led National League catchers (minimum 500 innings) in caught-stealing rate at 42.1 percent. He made the most of a chance to prove he’s a front-line catcher; now, to do it from the start.

(club control through 2026): Plan was for the left-handed hitting Nuñez to share catching with Díaz, but his .189 average meant bench time and the lack of a viable Triple-A option meant he wasn’t optioned. Will his occasional power (10 homers, 12 doubles in 228 at-bats) and improved late-season defense -- coupled with a plan to play in Puerto Rico this winter to make up for the lost playing time -- lead to big league production?

First base

(signed through 2023): Originally under a Minor League deal, Cron led the Rockies in home runs (27) and OPS+ (130, with 100 being MLB average), and developed into a solid fielder – especially on low throws. He’s now a true Rockie, meaning he must deal with a dramatic difference in home (1.073) and road (.734) production.

(rookie status intact): After a PED suspension, Welker batted .286 with three homers and 18 RBIs in 23 games at Triple-A Albuquerque to earn a 19-game trial. A third baseman by trade, Welker profiles better at first base -- with improving foot movement and developing offensive power as his offseason tasks.

Second base

(under club control through 2025): Overcame a Spring Training hamstring injury and a slow first 2 1/2 months to solidify the No. 2 spot in the batting order (.284/.328/.470 in 102 games). While there is the possibility he could end up at shortstop (depending on club moves this winter), he profiles better at second base -- but must improve anticipation and flexibility to be a plus defender there.

Third base

(second year arbitration): A standout year with the glove saw McMahon statistically lead NL second basemen in fielding metrics until he became a full-time third basemen -- where he ended up leading the league in defensive metrics. After showing power in the first half (16 home runs) and improved patience in the second (.349 OBP), McMahon needs to put both together to be the lineup leader the Rockies desire.


(free agent after the World Series): While the rough parts of his year were well-documented, with drops in offensive numbers and reduced velocity and effectiveness throwing, Story will be in much demand this offseason. The Rockies will extend a qualifying offer and try to keep him, but that’s a longshot given the money it would take to sign him and the other money the Rockies would have to spend around him to convince him to stay.


(outrighted on Oct. 21): In a strange season, Fuentes proved every bit as good as McMahon -- meaning Gold Glove-level -- at two positions, third base and first base. But his .225/.257/.351 slash line meant an option to Triple-A (where he worked on outfield skills), and ultimately the Rockies removed him from the Major League roster.

(free agent after the World Series): Two straight years in a Rockies uniform have seen Owings deliver production as a utility player before injuries forced him out for the season. Owings plans to make up for the lack of playing time in winter ball, and the Rockies want to re-sign him.

(rookie status intact): A 16th-round pick in 2017, Trejo impressed the Rockies with his defense throughout the Minors and earned 28 games in the Majors. Did his solid season at Triple-A (.278/.324/.569, 17 home runs in 362 plate appearances) prepare him for a longer look in the Majors?

(outrighted on Oct. 21): Offensive struggles as a regular led to his departure from the Orioles; with the Rockies, he honed utility skills and swung better off the bench than as a starter. Even after being outrighted, Ruiz has a shot at Major League employment somewhere if he can add first base and outfield to his current third base-second base positional profile.

Left field

(third and final year of arbitration): During some highly effective streaks, Tapia hit for average and made his speed a weapon -- the profile of an old-time leadoff man. But there were lengthy dry spells, and the Rockies’ need for power may mean Tapia (.273/.327/.372, 20 steals) could be a better asset as a trade piece.

(club control through 2026): In his third callup, Joe played solidly in left and led off with power and on-base production (.304/.392/.552, eight homers in 37 games) before a right hamstring injury ended his season. A corner infielder by trade, Joe will make some changes to his physical program to better accommodate the range he needs in the outfield.

(rookie status intact): A second-round pick in 2017, Vilade saw seven plate appearances in the Majors, but the Rockies called him up mainly to get him past big league awe. His .284/.339/.410 performance as a Triple-A leadoff man showed promise; now he must grow into the power hitter the Rockies envision.

Center field

(first year arbitration): Hampson received his first season of regular playing time and, like Tapia, sizzled and struggled (.234/.289/.380). With the Rockies seeking power in the outfield, Hampson could return to a utility role with much of his action coming in the infield.

(club control through 2025): For the second straight year, Hilliard received a prominent role early but struggled his way to an option to the Minors. This time, though, he posted an .807 OPS in his final 60 games (49 starts) during which he hit 12 homers.

(club control through 2026): The Rockies’ best defensive outfielder, Daza hit .282 and had a .332 OBP, although there was little power in terms of homers or extra-base hits. The team’s need for power could cost him a roster spot, but Daza has been counted out before yet earned his way to playing time.

Right field

(player options for 2022 and '23): Were his .270 average and 13 homers -- lower than in the past -- signals of a decline at 35? Or can his offensive upswing after a terrible start (.191/.308./326 through May 4, .287/.360/.428 after), coupled with his career-high 14 assists defensively, be signs that he will return to production once his adjustments are complete?

Starting pitchers

RHP (signed through 2023 with a club option for '24): A torrid streak in June and July helped Márquez -- long considered a top pitcher who was underrated in part because of a difficult home park -- earn recognition through an All-Star Game invitation. Márquez, who tied with the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright and the Phillies’ Zack Wheeler for the NL lead in complete games with three, still has to improve his overall durability and consistency to stay among the league’s best.

LHP (third year arbitration): Freeland sustained a left shoulder injury in Spring Training and struggled upon his return, but he put together a strong second half. Development of a curveball to go with his two- and four-seam fastballs and his changeup has made Freeland’s the most diverse pitch mix in the rotation.

RHP (signed through 2026 with a club option for '27) Senzatela took a step back numbers-wise (151 ERA+ in ’20, 108 in ’21), but the difference was some mistake pitches early in the season. Location and confidence in his fastball and slider took an uptick, but will he develop the changeup that the Rockies believe is the key to reaching a new level?

RHP (free agent after the World Series): A wild season of strong performances, slumps and trade rumors ended in mixed numbers. Gray has said he wants to return, and the Rockies believe he is in the top third of starters in the game. But will a contract result?

LHP (under club control through 2025): Gomber didn’t take long to adjust to Coors Field, and his 1.24 WHIP was lowest among Rockies starters. Back issues that ended his season early were a signal that he needs to adjust his physical program for the rigors of pitching at altitude.

RHP (designated for assignment at regular season’s end): González was the Rockies’ main spot starter, but pitched better out of the bullpen. Will the Rockies bring him back on a Minor League contract for depth in either a swing role or strict bullpen duty?

RHP (first year arbitration): Lambert made two starts at season’s end to complete a lengthy comeback from Tommy John right elbow surgery. He should have a normal offseason, which will give him a chance to win a job next spring by proving he is healthy and has a clean delivery.

RHP (rookie status intact): Feltner began the year at High-A, pitched well there and at Double-A and suddenly found himself in the Majors for two starts. The taste of Major League action could spur his development.

RHP (rookie status intact): A second-round pick out of high school in 2014, Castellani walked four and gave up five hits in 3 1/3 innings in his only Major League start. He walked 6.7 batters per nine innings at Triple-A.

RHP (rookie status intact): Goudeau was a man of many transactions -- five teams, six transactions since last December -- and saw Major League time with the Reds and Rockies. His fastball-curveball combination could make him useful in a swingman role, if he can get Major League footing.

Relief pitchers

RHP (third and final year arbitration): Already possessing a high-velocity fastball and a slider, Estévez and the coaches agreed he needed to hone in on the changeup -- even though the emphasis led to early-season struggles. Estévez finished the year as closer, and the Rockies must decide if that job or the setup role suits him best.

RHP (first year arbitration): Kinley had four months of ERAs of 3.33 or below, but two months above 6.00. He must match his durability (70 appearances) with consistency.

RHP (signed through 2022): Recurring bouts with blood clots in his pitching arm cost Oberg the 2021 season. Oberg stayed with the club helping relievers, the coaching staff and even the scouting department, and a future role awaits if he's not able to return.

RHP (free agent after the World Series): Signed for long relief and to support the starting staff, Chacín found his stuff ticked up in a late role (.176 batting average against in high-leverage situations, .188 in medium leverage). With the bullpen needing stabilizing experience, re-signing him makes sense.

RHP (fourth and final year arbitration): Bard’s experience made him the closer in the beginning, but he struggled for consistency and was hurt by left-handed batters. Late in the year, the Rockies found him an asset in a mid-game role against the right-handed heart of an opponent’s lineup.

LHP (rookie status intact): Having never pitched in relief, or pitched above A-ball before this season, Gilbreath was a development success story. As the main high-leverage lefty by season’s end, Gilbreath posted a 0.78 ERA and a .160 batting average against in August and September.

RHP (second year arbitration): Obtained in an offseason trade with the Reds, Stephenson displayed a solid slider and increasingly better fastball. After missing a month and a half with an upper-back injury, Stephenson fashioned a 1.61 ERA and .225 batting average against during the final two months.

RHP (outrighted on Oct. 21): After a solid 2.93 ERA in the shortened 2020 season, Almonte saw his number balloon to 7.55 in 2021. Despite a .216 batting average against and 23 strikeouts against eight walks in his final 17 appearances, the struggles and the fact he was eligible for arbitration led to the club’s decision to remove him from the 40-man roster.

RHP (exceeded rookie limits): A Rule 5 Draft pick from the Dodgers, Sheffield put up solid numbers (3.38 ERA, 142 ERA-plus) in 30 appearances. He missed time with a right shoulder injury, so he went to the Arizona Fall League to build up his innings and continue delivery work.

LHP (rookie status intact): A second-round pick in 2016, Bowden was tested in a variety of roles with mixed results in 2021 (6.56 ERA in 39 games). Bowden had 42 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings, but his 21 walks were a key reason he bounced between the Majors and Triple-A.

RHP (rookie status intact): Like Gilbreath and Bowden, Lawrence went through a developmental year (time in the Majors and Triple-A) with some good and bad moments in key situations. The Rockies like his velocity and funky arm angle, but 17 strikeouts against 19 walks in 16 2/3 Major League innings must improve.

RHP (rookie status intact): Called up several times but used sparingly, Santos spent most of the year in Triple-A. The Rockies have long liked his stuff, but his 7.94 ERA in 34 Triple-A games put his place on the 40-man roster in jeopardy.

RHP (rookie status intact): Fernández rose from Double-A to the Majors because of his 100 mph-plus fastball. His 10.80 ERA in six appearances showed that location and predictability must be improved for him to be viable; but his velocity makes the Rockies excited to undergo the project.