DENVER -- It's hard to fathom the dollars it could take for the Rockies to reach a multi-year contract with third baseman Nolan Arenado, their best-known and most-accomplished player. It may be even harder to imagine the Rockies without him.But with the 2018 season done, thanks to a three-game sweep
DENVER -- It's hard to fathom the dollars it could take for the Rockies to reach a multi-year contract with third baseman Nolan Arenado, their best-known and most-accomplished player. It may be even harder to imagine the Rockies without him.
But with the 2018 season done, thanks to a three-game sweep at the hands of the Brewers in the National League Division Series, the offseason is certainly time to consider the possibilities.
Arenado's two-year, $29 million contract has expired, but the club has control of his 2019 contract because the 27-year-old is eligible for arbitration. So Arenado and the club aren't actually under a deadline; they could reach an agreement for next season through the arbitration process, and not even deal with Arenado being eligible for free agency at the end of the year.
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But if the Rockies don't sign him to a multi-year deal, speculation will abound on whether the Rockies will trade him either during the winter or at next season's non-waiver Trade Deadline. The thought behind that is they could receive a future-building package, rather than see him potentially leave as a free agent with only a Draft pick as compensation.
However, the Rockies are coming off a 91-win season, came a tiebreaker loss to the Dodgers away from winning their first NL West title, and have made the postseason in consecutive years for the first time in club history. Even if the Rockies are keeping him for just one more season, there is a strong argument that they stand a better chance at an elusive World Series title next season with him than without.
There are months to chip away at those answers, but the club holds most of those. As for Arenado, he doesn't know much.
"I haven't really thought about that, honestly," Arenado said after Sunday's 6-0 loss to the Brewers. "I know I expect to be in Spring Training with the Rockies next year. This is a business, and I know how things can get a little weird on that side of stuff, but honestly I expect to be here next year."
Despite the gloom of Sunday, Arenado is coming off a solid season during which he played in 156 games despite a right shoulder injury that slowed him the final two months, led the National League with 38 home runs, drove in 110 runs and put up a .297 batting average, .374 on-base percentage and .561 slugging percentage.
Arenado and the rest of the Rockies will be turning their attention to improvement next year. The struggles of October -- when the Rockies didn't manage more than two runs in either the tiebreaker or any of their four postseason games -- highlighted improvements that must happen. In going 1-4 during the week, the Rockies went 2-for-31 and drew two walks with runners in scoring position.
"There are plenty of signs that we need to be better as a hitting team," Arenado said. "There's no question about that. At the crucial times, we've got to be able to come out. We weren't able to do that as a group, which is disappointing. Our pitchers pitched great, which is what we needed. It's on the offense. We couldn't get anything going."
Getting back to being Big John
During a crazy season that saw some high points but also saw a Minor League demotion and his being left off the postseason rosters, Rockies right-hander Jon Gray looked more slender than ever. While Gray didn't reveal the reason, he said an offseason goal is to regain weight and strength. His 95.3-mph fastball velocity was the lowest of his career. Last year's 96.4 was his highest.
"I wasn't really heathy," Gray, 26, said. "My velo was down this year. I'm going to get back to that good foundation to build off of. I was down about 20 pounds this year. It's been a little tough. I hope to get back up to 230-235."
Cruel ending to a breakout
Righty Scott Oberg struck out three on Sunday, but gave up two hits and two runs -- on a balk and a wild pitch. But it was just the sixth time in 43 games since July 1 that he gave up a run. The performance was not lost on center fielder Charlie Blackmon, who was sure to credit Oberg while discussing the promising pitching.
"Somebody should write a really good article on how good Oberg has gotten these last couple of months," Blackmon said. "These guys are really good, and right in front of us are becoming very good big league players -- and those guys are going to be around awhile."
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.