Rockies bring McGee back on 3-year deal

December 13th, 2017

The Rockies signed reliever Jake McGee to a contract that will bring the left-hander back to Colorado for the next three years, the team announced Friday. According to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, there's an option for a fourth year.

The Rockies will have McGee from the left and former Indians reliever -- who also signed a three-year contract -- from the right. After solid bullpen work helped the Rockies make the postseason in 2017, general manager Jeff Bridich's top priority at this week's Winter Meetings was to solidify the relief staff.

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The Rockies still are seeking a closer. Free agents Greg Holland (who earned 41 saves for Colorado last season) and are among the targets. The Rockies are known to also be exploring trades, with the Rays' Alex Colome and the Orioles' Zach Britton among possibilities. Reports also suggest the Royals' and possibly the O's are available, although it isn't clear if the Rox are involved with either.

McGee went 0-2 with a 3.61 ERA, and he held the opposition scoreless in all but 13 of his 62 appearances last season. He held opposing hitters to a .224 batting average. McGee's 14-inning scoreless streak from May 14-June 14 was the longest by a Rockies reliever all season.

The Rockies acquired McGee and righty starter from the Rays before the 2016 season. That year, McGee went 2-3 with a 4.73 ERA and 15 saves in 57 games, but he missed time -- and was hampered when he was active -- due to a left knee injury that limited his ability to push off the mound. Through a revised training program, McGee strengthened the muscles around the knee, and the results showed in 2017.

Going into the offseason, baseball observers wondered if the Rockies could retain McGee, whose strike throwing and velocity keep him valuable. But by signing Chris Iannetta to a two-year, $8.5 million contract -- thus avoiding the expected bigger bucks it would have required to retain -- and by not jumping immediately into the market for corner bats (first base or outfield), Bridich has been able to focus on relievers.

The Rockies could not retain righty Pat Neshek, who signed a two-year deal with the Phillies, but they put themselves back on solid footing with the Shaw and McGee agreements. Colorado also hopes righty bounces back from a down year in 2017, and younger relievers and are ready for increased roles.

Next will be the closer situation. Holland and Davis are among the relievers seeking big multiyear deals, and the Rockies haven't been afraid to enter that bidding. However, Colome has three years of club control, and Britton, Herrera and Brach are in their last arbitration year. Colorado hasn't committed to short term or long term in its approach.