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Parra for the Coors: Impact on OF market?

January 12, 2016

Gerardo Parra is a solid fourth outfielder for a powerhouse team. He can play all over the outfield, even in center, and still has enough range and arm strength to make most plays, even if he's lost half a step the past couple of years.Parra is a left-handed hitter who

Gerardo Parra is a solid fourth outfielder for a powerhouse team. He can play all over the outfield, even in center, and still has enough range and arm strength to make most plays, even if he's lost half a step the past couple of years.
Parra is a left-handed hitter who hits for power against right-handers, but he is probably going to be lifted for a pinch-hitter against a tough lefty reliever. Unless his team is protecting a lead, that is. Then, Parra's defensive reputation (Gold Glove Awards in 2011 and '13) will probably keep him on the field, even at the cost of his .296 career on-base percentage against lefties.
But do you think the Rockies just signed Parra to be their fourth outfielder? They aren't exactly at the point where they can start sweating the small stuff.
Hot Stove Tracker
Seems pretty unlikely that they'd commit $27.5 million over three years to an extra man. This would make Parra their fourth-highest-paid player next season.
That's almost certainly not going to happen, of course. Parra will probably be No. 3 on Colorado's payroll, as signing him makes it easier to deal right fielder Carlos Gonzalez (or center fielder Charlie Blackmon or left fielder Corey Dickerson) for badly needed pitching.
The Parra signing was a move that sets up another move, just as the Cubs' signing of Ben Zobrist was immediately followed by the trade that sent Starlin Castro to the Yankees. This is bad news for:
A. Yoenis Cespedes.
B. Justin Upton.
C. Dexter Fowler.
D. Teams like the Reds (Jay Bruce) or Dodgers (Andre Ethier, Alex Guerrero), who are looking to trade an outfielder.
Just the other day, Jim Duquette and Jim Memolo were debating on MLB Network Radio which player teams would rather have if they could get them -- the top free-agent outfielders on the market (Cespedes and Upton) or Gonzalez. Duquette went with the 30-year-old Gonzalez, who is owed about $37.9 million total in 2016-17 before reaching the free-agent market.
• Castro: Is Cespedes or Upton better value?
But these things aren't equal. There's the acquisition cost that will come with Gonzalez or one of the younger outfielders, Dickerson (.536 slugging percentage in 65 games last year) or Blackmon (.347 on-base percentage, 17 homers and 43 stolen bases last year), who could be controlled longer.
On the other hand, all of the Rockies are relative financial bargains when compared to the prices that have been associated to the free agents. They aren't attached to Draft choice compensation (although neither is Cespedes, and that hasn't been a huge boost for him).
Immediately after word of Parra's agreement with Colorado, FOX Sports' J.P. Morosi tweeted about ongoing talks between the Rockies and Orioles. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal also tweeted on Tuesday that the Tigers have negotiated with Colorado about its outfielders.
This is very interesting, as it potentially could impact the stalemate between the O's and Chris Davis. What if Baltimore could deal Kevin Gausman to Colorado for Gonzalez and then signed Yovani Gallardo or Ian Kennedy to fill Gausman's spot in the rotation?
Or what if the Rockies could get Jose Quintana from the White Sox for Gonzalez and Triple-A shortstop Trevor Story (.279, 20 homers, 22 stolen bases between Double-A and Triple-A last season)?
The idea that the Rockies will trade an outfielder is hardly new. It has been lurking in the background throughout the Hot Stove season. Just a week ago, I suggested that Colorado might sign Denard Span to a one-year contract and then move an outfielder. But in this case the reality one-ups speculation, for all the parties involved (Span and Parra).
Span's three-year, $31 million deal with the Giants, like the Parra deal with the Rockies, comes while Davis, Cespedes and Upton are looking for nine-figure contracts. So far there have been only five of those (David Price, Zack Greinke, Jason Heyward, Johnny Cueto and Jordan Zimmermann).
What's going to happen first? One of the big free agents signing, Fowler signing a mid-level deal like Parra and Span or Colorado pulling off a blockbuster deal? I'd bet on the latter.
Like the Cubs with the Zobrist-Castro combination of moves, the Rockies have been lining up options in both free agency and on the trade front. They had a pretty good idea what they were going to do when they agreed to the Parra deal.
Parra could wind up platooning with Kyle Parker. He's not going to be a fourth outfielder. Not in 2016, anyway.

Phil Rogers is a columnist for