DENVER -- The Rockies' roster appears to be calling for one more corner bat, and indications are the club is looking to re-sign either first baseman Mark Reynolds or outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, or sign right-handed-hitting free agent Todd Frazier.The Rockies' wont is to not comment publicly, and various industry sources
DENVER -- The Rockies' roster appears to be calling for one more corner bat, and indications are the club is looking to re-sign either first baseman Mark Reynolds or outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, or sign right-handed-hitting free agent Todd Frazier.
The Rockies' wont is to not comment publicly, and various industry sources say they are being quiet. But through various conversations, the idea of revisiting Reynolds (.277/.354/.471 the past two years) or Gonzalez (who dipped to .262 with 14 homers last season but hit .335 with eight homers and 31 RBIs in August and September), or bringing in Frazier (.222 last year with the White Sox and Yankees, but a .552 slugging percentage and 12 of his 15 homers off left-handers).
Another option is to go with what they have, which would mean young players, such as first baseman Ryan McMahon and outfielders David Dahl, Raimel Tapia and Mike Tauchman, would receive opportunities to grab as much playing time as merit allows. All bat left-handed, and the trio of outfielders have speed and can play defensively in multiple spots.
The Rockies feel covered in any scenario because right-handed-hitting Ian Desmond, in the second year of a five-year, $70 million deal, can be used at first base or in left field. A fractured left hand in Spring Training and two calf strains during the regular season limited him to 95 games (.274, 7 HRs, 40 RBIs), but with a return to health he will be a key lineup cog. He'll be the team's highest-paid player at $22 million this season.
Additionally, the Rockies have corner outfielder Gerardo Parra, who hit .309 with 10 homers and 71 RBIs last year, entering the final season of his three-year deal. Parra, due $10 million in 2018 plus a $1.5 million buyout or $12 million option for '19, can play either outfield corner and could conceivably be used as a cleanup hitter behind Nolan Arenado against right-handed pitching.
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The past two years, the Rockies brought in Reynolds to compete for opportunities, and each time he ended up the starter at first base. The plan last year was to use Desmond at first, but injury opened the door for Reynolds, who hit .267 with 30 homers and 97 RBIs, and was a Final Vote finalist for the All-Star Game. When Desmond returned, he played 66 games in left field and 27 at first base.
If the Rockies sign Reynolds or Frazier, Desmond figures to make most of his starts in left field. If they sign Gonzalez, then the original plan of Desmond making most of his starts at first base goes back into effect.
Whether it's Reynolds, Desmond or Frazier -- who hit 29 homers in 2014, 35 in '15 and 40 in '16 -- the Rockies expect to have right-handed power and experience, which would allow them to make sure McMahon is ready before feeding him regular playing time. The Rockies do have time with the left-handed-hitting McMahon, the No. 41 prospect in baseball according to MLB Pipeline; he has all of his Minor League options.
Having a productive righty bat, however the lineup is shaped, is a priority. Last year, the Rockies faced lefty starters 48 times and went 20-28. In the National League West, they faced lefties 33 times and went 13-20 -- including 6-9 in the 15 games against the division-champion Dodgers, 2-6 against the Giants, 3-3 against the second-place D-backs, and 2-2 against the Padres.
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and** like his Facebook page**.