Rox following rivals' lead in pitching market
Winter Meetings will give Colorado a chance to upgrade rotation
NASHVILLE -- The Rockies didn't have to wait long to see where the free-agency pitcher market was going, and a couple of their National League West rivals escalated prices. Now, with everyone arriving at the Winter Meetings, Colorado will have to figure out how it will make pitching moves.
The D-backs shocked the baseball world Friday night by securing Zack Greinke for six years and a reported $206.5 million. The Giants, who have won the World Series in the last three even-numbered years, and are salivating for 2016, reached a five-year, $90 million deal with Jeff Samardzija on Saturday.
The Dodgers still possess lefty star Clayton Kershaw and the Padres are hoping James Shields, last year's big free-agent signing, rebounds from a rough 2015. The Rockies will spend the next several days either making a trade to increase the talent at the front of the rotation, or seeing if they can join the free-agent arms race.
The more likely scenario involves trades, but a Rockies team that has built a potentially potent, and mostly young lineup, as well as an attractive stash of prospects, might be nervous about upsetting that with trades.
Still, coming off five straight losing seasons and a 68-94 mark in 2015, the Rockies appear to be seeking something new for the front of the starting rotation, where lefty Jorge De La Rosa and right-hander Chad Bettis are coming off solid seasons, despite the staff's overall struggles. Righties Jordan Lyles and Tyler Chatwood hope to rebound from injury. Behind them is a group of high Draft picks, who must prove themselves.
Righty Ian Kennedy, who has a long history in the NL West, appears to be the best free-agent target, and righties Doug Fister and Mike Leake are attractive. But during the week leading up to the Winter Meetings, the Rockies' efforts were centered on trades.
The Winter Meetings are one big shopping trip, and general manager Jeff Bridich is looking at more than one issue.
"We aren't limiting ourselves to starting pitchers," Bridich said. "We're looking at all ways that we can to improve ourselves."
Bridich said relief help is on the wish list, as well as offensive depth. The roster makeup calls for a right-handed bat, either off the bench or to pair with left-handed-hitting first baseman Ben Paulsen in a platoon. But Bridich declines to be so narrow in his focus.
"We definitely have some good left-handed hitters -- [Corey] Dickerson, [Carlos Gonzalez], Charlie Blackmon, Ben Paulsen," Bridich said. "But we also have Jose Reyes, Nick Hundley, DJ LeMahieu, who bat right-handed. So while the perception is that's one of our needs, it's not as if we have a scarcity there."
MLB.com and MLB Network will have wall-to-wall coverage of the 2015 Winter Meetings from the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, with the Network launching 35 hours of live Winter Meetings coverage. Fans can also catch live streaming of all news conferences and manager availability on MLB.com, as well as the announcement of the Hall of Fame Pre-Integration Era Committee inductees on Monday at 9 a.m. MT and the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday at 8 a.m. MT.