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Inbox: What is offseason strategy for Rockies?

Beat reporter Thomas Harding answers questions from fans
MLB.com

DENVER -- The going theme of questions in this Rockies Inbox: Are there tweaks that could make a young team that performed above expectations just a little better?

Read on to see what's on fans' minds.

DENVER -- The going theme of questions in this Rockies Inbox: Are there tweaks that could make a young team that performed above expectations just a little better?

Read on to see what's on fans' minds.

Tweet from @bergo23: Senza as potential closer?

Looking at the full season, Antonio Senzatela -- who made the season-opening rotation at 22, after just 34 2/3 innings in Double-A in 2016 -- saw some improvement as a reliever. He had a 5.03 ERA as a starter to 3.04 in relief. His WHIP decreased from 1.38 to 0.88. He saw increases in his strikeouts per nine innings (6.4 to 8.7) and strikeout-to-walk rate (2.03 to 2.88).

Those stats, and the rise in velocity of his power fastball out of the bullpen, make the temptation to keep him in relief understandable.

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However, the first 12 starts (8-2, 3.56 ERA, 62 percent strikes) suggest that he can start in the Majors. Now, go back to the age and the scant experience the previous year. Those led to some downturns in his effectiveness last season, but with experience there is reason to believe he will be a better starter. Coming out of the bullpen taught him the importance of attacking the strike zone immediately, which can be transferred to starting.

Last year showed that he needed experience to be effective as a starter through an entire season. It did not show that he can't start.

Besides, early indications are re-signing 2017 closer Greg Holland will be a priority.

Tweet from @dfellman: After playing better than expected like in 2007, do you see a regression like in '08 or will this team get better next season?

In 2008, after Aaron Cook, Ubaldo Jimenez, Jorge De La Rosa and Jeff Francis, the Rockies had veteran starters whose effectiveness had diminished. They couldn't absorb Francis' shoulder issues, which led to a 4-10, 5.01 performance in 24 starts and ultimately cost him the 2009 season.

These Rockies potentially have seven starters who were part of a postseason team -- Jon Gray, Tyler Anderson, Chad Bettis, German Marquez, Kyle Freeland, Jeff Hoffman and Senzatela -- and some talented prospects that could force their way into action. The '08 team didn't have that level of talent.

Video: MIA@COL: Gray fans five in six innings vs. Marlins

On the flip side, the youth of this staff certainly is reason to wonder about regression. It'll depend on how they keep up with opponents who have a year's information on them.

Tweet from @bix783: Give me your best guess about giving Cargo a one year deal.

The first question is whether the Rockies will extend the qualifying offer, valued at $18.1 million for 2018, to Carlos Gonzalez, who would have 10 days to accept or reject. Should he reject it, the Rockies could still negotiate with Gonzalez. But should he sign with another team, the Rockies should receive a pick in the '18 Draft.

If Gonzalez accepts, then nothing has changed. Highly regarded prospect David Dahl, who missed the year with a rib injury, plus Raimel Tapia and Mike Tauchman will still be trying to make their marks in an outfield that includes center field stalwart Charlie Blackmon, Gerardo Parra and the versatile Ian Desmond. It seems crowded, but remember that in 2017 Desmond, Parra and Dahl all missed significant time with injuries.

The Rockies will have to determine if re-signing Gonzalez hampers other efforts, such as re-signing Holland or possibly going after free-agent first baseman Eric Hosmer. It'll be part of an offseason strategy under which general manager Jeff Bridich will at least explore multiple trade options.

Tweet from @ABBronco: Will the Rockies target a veteran starting pitcher in FA, and who???????????????????????????s most likely to be their target?

Doubtful. It's more likely the Rockies will continue their system of developing young power pitchers, and not go the veteran route until next season's non-waiver Trade Deadline. It's risky, as the Mets learned after making the 2015 World Series and seeing injuries and other struggles beset a young staff. But I don't see the Rockies in play for a top free agent such as Jake Arrieta or Yu Darvish, and they have seen success developing from within.

Tweet from @JMar254: I'd be ok w/ the #Rockies manning a 6 pitcher rotation, an extra days rest can only help them. Did they over use Holland to start the year?

I go back to a point I made earlier. A Rockies team that had struggled late in games for several seasons played with a greater confidence because of Holland's presence. Without the strong start, the Rockies' struggles in August and September would have doomed their postseason chances.

Tweet from @RussEdmondson: Do you expect Reynolds to be the every day first baseman next year?

Mark Reynolds is a free agent, so the structure of the roster will determine if the team will re-sign him. However, if the Rockies re-sign him, it would likely to be as a backup who could start if necessary -- same as in 2017.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page.