DENVER -- Jeff Bridich has been among the most active general managers in a Hot Stove season that has been cold as ice. But the Rockies' fourth-year GM said on Wednesday that he still sees ways to upgrade Colorado's personnel before the club reports to Spring Training in five weeks."We
DENVER -- Jeff Bridich has been among the most active general managers in a Hot Stove season that has been cold as ice. But the Rockies' fourth-year GM said on Wednesday that he still sees ways to upgrade Colorado's personnel before the club reports to Spring Training in five weeks.
"[We are] making sure that all the guys that are under contract and are with us and are invited to Spring Training are doing the things that they need to do to get ready," Bridich said in an interview with MLB Network's MLB Now. "And as it relates to the Major League team, the other big thing right now would be just kind of staying on the market. It's been a different type of free-agent market to this point, so just staying with it, sticking with it and trying to make sure we're not missing anything."
• Hot Stove Tracker
The Rockies have invested $106 million in their bullpen via free agency, signing right-hander Bryan Shaw, who pitched in a prominent role with the Indians the last two postseasons; Jake McGee, who had a bounce-back year for Colorado; and Wade Davis, one of the game's elite closers. The club also signed veteran catcher Chris Iannetta to a two-year, $8.5 million contract, which collectively, filled most of the Rockies' offseason voids, with opportunities to upgrade at corner outfield and first base.
The robust relief market this winter, coupled with the Rockies' affordable rotation, allowed the club to be aggressive in bolstering its bullpen. Starters Jon Gray, Tyler Anderson, German Marquez, Chad Bettis and Kyle Freeland are all under club control through 2020.
"[We're] trying to take a holistic look at building not just a bullpen and a rotation, but our pitching overall and who we have coming up to support that group," Bridich said. "Honestly we've been talking about … pitching and defense and catching and all that, and I think we had a chance, an opportunity, here to kind of walk the walk a little bit, and we decided to do it."
Rockies starters went 63-56 for the 11th-best win percentage among starters (.529) while compiling a 4.59 ERA, a mark that may seem high before accounting for hitter-friendly Coors Field, but was the fifth-lowest in franchise history. Rookies made 93 starts last year for Colorado.
Bridich expects the young rotation to take another step in '18 to complement what's shaping up to be an elite 'pen. He also expects improvement to the Rockies' offense, which showed vulnerability over the final two months with 90 weighted runs created plus, per FanGraphs, a park-neutral metric where league average is 100. Bridich specifically referenced Ian Desmond, who disappointed in the first year of a five-year, $70 million contract, with three stints on the disabled list, and shortstop Trevor Story, who slashed .239/.308/.457 with a National League-leading 191 strikeouts following a promising but injury-shortened rookie season in '16.
"There's a lot of upside to Trevor. I think there were some lessons learned last year," Bridich said. "Then we had some injuries that affected us. I mean, obviously Ian Desmond, it was a frustrating season physically for him and a lot of it was out of his control in terms of a broken bone. So I think there's some upside."
Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.