SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- At gatherings such as the General Managers Meetings, the Rockies' Jeff Bridich usually spends part of his time wearing a bemused smile as he's asked once more if he'll give up all that is dear, or at least right fielder Carlos González, in a trade.This year, his
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- At gatherings such as the General Managers Meetings, the Rockies' Jeff Bridich usually spends part of his time wearing a bemused smile as he's asked once more if he'll give up all that is dear, or at least right fielder Carlos González, in a trade.
This year, his grin covers Gonzalez and center fielder Charlie Blackmon, who is coming off his best year. In fairness, the questions aren't out of left field. Gonzalez is due $20 million in the final year of his contract, and Blackmon's second year of arbitration will bring a raise over the $3.5 million he earned in 2016.
But a Rockies team with its own dream will have to receive a major haul for Gonzalez, who has hit .285 with 65 homers the past two years, and Blackmon, a leadoff hitter who hit .324/.381/.552 and made dramatic improvements on the road and against left-handed pitching.
It's not as if they're untouchable, but Bridich has not put that tag on a player since taking the job after the 2014 season. But it would be tough, since Bridich believes the squad under new manager Bud Black is on the cusp of winning.
"Are we going to look to improve things in 2017 and add Major League players to our process for 2017? The answer is yes," Bridich said. "I'm hopeful that doesn't have to come at the expense of players like Carlos Gonzalez or Charlie Blackmon."
Keys for the Rockies are the bullpen and first base. The bullpen is intriguing, since pitchers could be added through trades, free agency or a combination.
"That's kind of the job, to search our every opportunity within our means to add talent to the process," Bridich said. "Generally overall, this is a slimmer free-agent market as it currently stands, so there's probably the possibility for increased trading. But there's no guarantee on that, either. We'll search any and all avenues."
Bridich will not close off the possibility of going for an established closer. No one in his current bullpen has a games-finished clause, which means no one is losing money if not pitching the ninth. But Bridich noted that the Rockies have employed such pitchers in the past, and it would be foolish to limit themselves.
Bridich also noted that an internal closer option is Adam Ottavino, who had bright times but also struggled against lefty batters at times while going 1-3 with a 2.67 ERA and 7-for-12 on save chances in 2016 -- a little more than a year after Tommy John surgery.
"We have a lot of confidence in him in the ninth inning, and everybody's hope, including his and his expectations, is that with the half-season that he was able to pitch, that the rust is going to be gone and physically he's going to be ready to go in '17," Bridich said.
As for other late-game duties, a bullpen possibility is retaining free-agent lefty Boone Logan, with whom the club has had discussions.
In another bullpen development, Bridich said righty Scott Oberg has progressed nicely from surgery to remove blood clots from his right forearm, and he should be ready for Spring Training.
Also, righties Jairo Díaz, who missed last season after Tommy John surgery in March, and Miguel Castro, who had shoulder strain issues that left him often unavailable with the Rockies and at Triple-A Albuquerque, are on normal offseasons at the team's Dominican Republic complex.
On Castro, Bridich said: "A lot of it is just strength and growth. It's easy to forget he's 21 years old. Like other guys, there's a strength gain that needs to happen here."
Diaz is throwing bullpens this month, and he will rest in December before reporting to Scottsdale to being his pre-spring throwing program.
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and** like his Facebook page**.