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CarGo's offense will help Rox's young pitchers

MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

PHOENIX -- It's possible that the Rockies' route to contender status has to involve trading star outfielder Carlos Gonzalez to improve and deepen their starting pitching. But the fact that he'll report with position players on Tuesday speaks volumes about general manager Jeff Bridich's thinking.

After improving the Rockies' bullpen and changing some of their offensive focus during the offseason, Bridich believes that if the club's inexperienced starting pitchers make a quantum leap, Gonzalez's power could help take the Rockies a long way. The 30-year-old's 40 homers and 97 RBIs in 2015 came after nearly three years of injury and a poor start to the season.

PHOENIX -- It's possible that the Rockies' route to contender status has to involve trading star outfielder Carlos Gonzalez to improve and deepen their starting pitching. But the fact that he'll report with position players on Tuesday speaks volumes about general manager Jeff Bridich's thinking.

After improving the Rockies' bullpen and changing some of their offensive focus during the offseason, Bridich believes that if the club's inexperienced starting pitchers make a quantum leap, Gonzalez's power could help take the Rockies a long way. The 30-year-old's 40 homers and 97 RBIs in 2015 came after nearly three years of injury and a poor start to the season.

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Bridich and the Rockies have genuine affection for and belief in Gonzalez, and they are putting money behind it -- $37 million over the next two seasons. The Rockies have just seven players signed beyond 2016. The only one with a greater salary is embattled shortstop Jose Reyes, who signed that deal while with the Marlins, two teams ago. 

If Gonzalez continues to produce, as the Rockies hope, and the club struggles because of its young starting pitching, there's always the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline. The Rockies dealt their former franchise headliner, shortstop Troy Tulowtizki, to the Blue Jays before last year's Trade Deadline.

Tweet from @Rockies: #CarGo stopped by the Daytona 500 yesterday: https://t.co/cJA07iJTks pic.twitter.com/IsOUby3SDz

One development would eliminate the talk of whether they'll trade CarGo. A surprise foray into National League West contention. And Monday during Cactus League Media Day at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel was as good a time as any for Bridich to hold that possibility open.

Video: Outlook: CarGo should still be strong performer

"Who knows?" Bridich said. "My hope is that we surprise all of the naysayers and the doubters, which is most of the interested parties in this baseball industry."

The question hung over the Rockies last season in the days between the Tulowitzki deal and the Trade Deadline. It was a burning issue during the General Managers Meetings and the Winter Meetings this offseason. When the Rockies signed outfielder Gerardo Parra and had one too many capable starters, speculation burned until the Rockies dealt Corey Dickerson to the Rays.

It's safe to say that the Rockies don't want to deal Gonzalez, even if he eventually has to go.

"It has always been supposition and conjecture and assumptions made," Bridich said. "We have never said that we wanted to trade him.

"A year ago at this time, it was, 'Is he going to heal? Has he healed? Is he going to be back to the player that he can be, as a 29-year-old, elite type of player?' And he answered those questions. … He's been a great Rockie, so there is still not some overarching desire to trade Carlos Gonzalez."

All that said, if the Rockies struggle and a contending team decides it needs Gonzalez's bat, the Rockies could find themselves finally saying goodbye -- and, most likely, hello to the pitching that many believe they lack.

"My job, and the rest of the organization's job, is to look at every side out there," Bridich said. "We have done that, we will continue to do that. I think that if we had some huge, yearning desire to trade Carlos and have him not be a Rockie anymore, it would probably already be done."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Colorado Rockies, Carlos Gonzalez