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Inbox: Do Rox need big move for WS push?

Beat reporter Thomas Harding answers fans' questions
January 17, 2019

Why are the Rockies so reluctant to trade prospects, particularly at positions where they have a surplus, during this contention window? At some point you have to make bold, all-in moves to be a true championship contender, right? -- @DWilsonsportsIt's tough to make a blanket statement, since a trade like

Why are the Rockies so reluctant to trade prospects, particularly at positions where they have a surplus, during this contention window? At some point you have to make bold, all-in moves to be a true championship contender, right?
-- @DWilsonsports

It's tough to make a blanket statement, since a trade like that is based on timing, not simply the desire to be "bold."
The Royals made the Johnny Cueto deal at the 2015 non-waiver Trade Deadline, and the Astros made a deal for Justin Verlander at the 2017 Deadline.
The Rockies did fill needs at the 2017 Deadline for relief pitching (Pat Neshek) and catching (Jonathan Lucroy), and shored up a leaky bullpen at last season's Deadline (Seunghwan Oh). The moves didn't result in a World Series, but helped lead to postseason appearances.
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Need has to line up with player. For example, last season, the player teams thought would bring home a championship was Manny Machado. While a title didn't happen for the Dodgers -- who have a high enough payroll to acquire a veteran if the farm system doesn't have an answer -- was Machado really in play for the Rockies? Nolan Arenado mans third base and Trevor Story plays shortstop.
And, yes, the Rockies are reluctant to deal young players, mainly because they use them. Theoretically, had those deals been made in recent years, they would not have David Dahl, who is expected to be part of the 2019 lineup. And while they've had relative health with starting pitching in recent years, they need to be protected in case of injuries.
The projected 2019 Rockies lineup has homegrown players at four of the eight positions, with three others having legitimate hopes as starters. In other words, those players are more necessities than surpluses. It's difficult to lose several of those players for one piece before a season starts.
Right now, the big name on the trade market is Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto, but getting him would mean giving up young, club-controlled players, like Story and Dahl. And the Rockies would rather have Kyle Freeland and German Marquez throwing to someone else than Realmuto catching a staff without either of them.
The Deadline may or may not be different. If a team is clearly in the postseason chase and the answer is out there, like it was for the Royals and the Astros, then the Rockies' willingness to make that move will be tested.
Hot Stove Tracker
1. Do you see the Rockies making a move at catcher or do you think they stand pat? 2. Do the lack of moves signal a long term contract in the works for Nolan?
-- @Parsons_T13
The answers are connected. As for catching, I've laid out the Realmuto situation, and the Rockies never put themselves in play for Yasmani Grandal, who cost the Brewers $18.25 million for one season, plus their third-highest pick in the 2019 MLB Draft.
The Rockies will be spending at least $24 million for the arbitration-eligible Arenado this year, and the hope of a multi-year deal meant even if they fancied Grandal they were not going to tie up funds in multiple years to outbid the Brewers.
Are the Rockies going to make a move to strengthen the rotation? A Shelby Miller-type signing would be perfect for the Rox and the player.
-- @dannyterao

The Rockies have tried using down-on-their-luck pitchers, with mixed results at best. They've now built the best rotation in their history from within. That said, if an ace-level pitcher in his prime became available at the Deadline, that would be worth considering.
What's Bryan Shaw's status? His control was nonexistent and he paid dearly last year. Any tweaks coming for 2019?
-- @bobdewy

I talked to bullpen coach Darren Holmes and detailed the plights of Shaw (4-6, 5.93 ERA, 61 games) and Jake McGee (2-4, 6.49, 61 games) for my article Thursday. Holmes is big on Shaw as a competitor.
"He's a little geeky, a little quirky," Holmes said. "But I love him because that guy wants the ball. He never shied away from going into a ballgame."

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