Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich acknowledged the club has had conversations with the Rays about closer Alex Colome -- as was the hot rumor on Monday's first day of the Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. But Bridich said the Rockies are also continuing to talk to free-agent Greg Holland, their closer in 2017.
Bridich also acknowledged an MLB.com report earlier Monday that the Rockies have expressed interest in free-agent first baseman Carlos Santana, who hit 23 home runs last year and 34 in 2016 for the Indians. Santana is represented by the same agency as catcher Chris Iannetta, who signed with the Rockies for two years and $8.5 million on Friday.
By signing Iannetta for a much lower price than it may have taken to retain Jonathan Lucroy, who caught for Colorado down the stretch in 2017, Bridich now has more money to potentially add late-inning relief help.
Not only must the Rockies find a closer, but they also have holes to fill in their setup roles. Right-hander Pat Neshek, acquired from the Phillies for the 2017 stretch run that landed the Rockies in the postseason for the first time since 2009, is expected to re-sign with Philadelphia, according to MLB.com. Left-handed setup man Jake McGee also is a free agent.
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USA Today reported Monday morning that the Rockies and Cardinals were among the teams "aggressively pursuing" Colome, 28, who led the Majors in saves in 2017 with 47 and is under club control for the next three seasons.
Bridich didn't go into detail about the talks with the Rays, but they started at last month's General Managers Meetings as the Rockies began to survey the market.
In addition to the talks about Colome, Bridich acknowledged interest in Orioles closer Zach Britton, who the Rockies scouted heavily at the 2017 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Britton dealt with an elbow issue last season but finished strong with a 2.89 ERA after leading the American League in saves in '16 with 47.
The Orioles are believed to be shopping Britton, in his final year of arbitration, and other players with rising salaries. Bridich said the Rockies have been looking at "all different possibilities," so Britton, like Colome or like a free agent like Holland, would fit that process.
"I can't speak for Baltimore, but we've been looking into [him] and researching for weeks and months now, and with where Britton is at in his career and some of the things Baltimore has said publicly about what their plans are, we've looked into him," Bridich said. "He's one of a number of closers, both free agents and trade potential, that we've been investigating."
But none of this means the door is closed on bringing back Holland, who missed 2016 because of Tommy John surgery. The right-hander signed a one-year deal with the Rockies and tied with the Dodgers' Kenley Jansen for the National League lead in saves with 41. Bridich answered affirmatively when asked if it was fair to say the club still is pursuing Holland.
Early reports Monday linked the Rockies to corner outfielder Jay Bruce and first baseman/outfielder Logan Morrison. But Santana -- a switch-hitter who has impressive power and patience, having averaged 102 walks per season over the past four campaigns with a career on-base percentage of .365 -- appeared to be of more true interest to the club.
But the Indians, Red Sox and numerous other teams are also pursuing Santana, which means Rockies face stiff competition. If Colorado can land Santana, Ian Desmond -- signed last year for five years and $70 million -- would most likely move primarily to the outfield. Desmond took up first base in 2017 but suffered a broken left hand in Spring Training and missed the start of the regular season. With Mark Reynolds playing well at first base, Desmond spent much of his time in left field after returning.
Gerardo Parra, in the last year of his three-year contract, could move from left to right field to replace Carlos Gonzalez, who is a free agent.