DENVER -- The agreement between the Rockies and second baseman Brendan Rodgers on a one-year, $2.7 million contract on Friday wrapped up all the team’s arbitration cases, which clearly was a priority for general manager Bill Schmidt this winter.
The team reached a one-year, $1.65 million deal with lefty pitcher Austin Gomber on Thursday, and the others were done in November -- righty reliever Tyler Kinley for three years and $6.25 million, lefty reliever Brent Suter for one year at $3 million and righty reliever Dinelson Lamet for one year and $5 million.
Last season, the team went into Spring Training with the arbitration cases of third baseman Ryan McMahon and lefty pitcher Kyle Freeland still pending. McMahon reached a six-year, $70 million deal during camp. Freeland and the club agreed to a one-year deal during camp that was part of the groundwork toward the five-year, $64.5 million deal he signed in late April.
However, both players struggled early in the 2022 season. It’s difficult to quantify issues such as pressure brought on by trying to live up to a big contract, negotiating in Spring Training or negotiating during a season, but Rockies officials have alluded to the possibility that contract-related issues were distractions for both players.
“At this time, you’d like the guys focused on coming to Spring Training and not worried about other stuff, like a contract,” said Schmidt, whose first Spring Training as GM was unusual because the sport was coming out of a lockout that temporarily halted offseason business. “In that situation, they’re free of mind. Just focus and play.”
It’s not clear, however, whether the book is completely closed on Rodgers, 26, who in 2022 won a Fielding Bible Award and a Gold Glove Award for his defense. He is considered a candidate to find offensive consistency and take a leap after posting a .761 OPS with 28 homers, with both torrid and cold streaks, in his two seasons as a regular.
After the contracts to McMahon, Freeland, Germán Márquez and Antonio Senzatela, the Rockies are in the business of identifying key players early in their careers and locking them up on lengthy deals. Schmidt declined to comment on whether there are ongoing negotiations with Rodgers beyond the 2023 season.
The New York Post reported recently that Rodgers’ name came up in trade talks for Marlins right-handed starting pitcher Edward Cabrera. The Rockies do not comment on trade talks, and the deal does not appear to be coming to fruition. But Colorado is looking to improve its rotation with active pitchers under club control -- Cabrera has six more seasons of club control -- and Rodgers is one of the few Rockies whose 2022 season is attractive to clubs seeking immediate lineup boosts.