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Inbox: Is big offseason move in Rockies' future?

Beat reporter Thomas Harding answers questions from Colorado fans
December 19, 2018

Will the Rockies finally prove to Nolan Arenado that they actually, truly want to compete for a World Series (in order to get him to sign an extension) by making a big trade for someone like J.T. Realmuto? -- MonicaI have heard the storyline that the Rockies must make moves

Will the Rockies finally prove to Nolan Arenado that they actually, truly want to compete for a World Series (in order to get him to sign an extension) by making a big trade for someone like J.T. Realmuto?
-- Monica

I have heard the storyline that the Rockies must make moves to please Arenado, so this question gives me the opportunity to disagree with that premise. Over the past two years, Colorado has built one of the better rotations in the National League, and it's young enough to be there for a while. The pitching has more to do with the Rockies' two straight postseason appearances than any other attribute -- including Arenado.
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In the final analysis, the question will be: Can the Rockies, with a mid-market payroll, sign Arenado and have enough money for the team -- not only the staff as it becomes more expensive, but also shortstop Trevor Story -- to stay competitive? General manager Jeff Bridich suggests it's possible.
Do you think the Rockies should pick up Realmuto and Justin Smoak?
-- Vance

I don't see a trade for Realmuto, for whom the Marlins are seeking a big return. In the Rockies' case, it would be a front-of-the-rotation starter. Although Realmuto's agent said earlier this offseason that he anticipates a trade, it's hard for one to occur if the Marlins stay with their asking price.
Smoak has power and a short contract, so he remains a possibility. What isn't clear is what the Rockies are willing to give up in a trade.

What are the Rockies going to do with Jon Gray next season? Is he still the ace, a bullpen arm, or will they trade him?
-- Charlie D., Charlotte, N.C.

Gray had some difficult performances last year, and he lost some power because he couldn't maintain weight and strength. But he is still a prized arm who should be a part of rotation success. Other teams realize that, and they ask about him in trade talks, but Colorado has made clear that it would take a lot to deal him.
Do you get the sense that the Rockies are looking at a first baseman more than acquiring an outfielder?
-- Dusty B.

This question came during the Winter Meetings when first basemen, or infielders who could end up at first base, began to be connected to the Rockies.
There are a couple of reasons why: Outfield is an area of depth for the Rockies -- not only with David Dahl's emergence last season, but also with Raimel Tapia in a key year (out of Minor League options) and Noel Cuevas and Mike Tauchman in the picture. And the Rockies believe Ian Desmond profiles better in the outfield.
There are corner-infield types like Josh Fuentes (No. 17 prospect) and Tyler Nevin (No. 11), who could develop into Major League first basemen sooner rather than later, but the Rockies believe a veteran who has appeared in pressure situations could man the position until the prospects are ready.

I believe Ryan McMahon deserves about 400 at-bats, either at second or first. How come the Rockies won't give him first base and focus their efforts on second base or a center fielder like Adam Jones?
-- Zachary S., Arizona

As the 2018 season ended, the organization was on the same page that McMahon's 2018 education should put him in position to receive more at-bats in '19. They also were high on his prospects at second base, and I agree.
The left-handed-hitting McMahon's size, arm and reactions all give him a chance to put forth a reasonable imitation of DJ LeMahieu, who is a free agent at a position where the Rockies can fill. But righty-hitting Garrett Hampson, with usable speed, will compete for at-bats. And No. 1 prospect Brendan Rodgers should be ready at some point.
And it doesn't hurt that McMahon can play first base.

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