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Rockies seek proven pitchers in trade talks

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- It will take no less than established starting pitching to pry either Dexter Fowler or Michael Cuddyer from the Rockies' outfield.

The Rockies are known to be in search of such a starter, as well as late bullpen help, either via free agency or a trade. The Rockies have annually listened and occasionally moved on pitching offers, but usually they made those deals for young pitchers. Left-hander Drew Pomeranz and right-handers Alex White and Tyler Chatwood are products of such deals.

But with a staff full of such pitchers, who in 2012 experienced the growing pains of youth as the team went 68-94, the Rockies want something different.

Bill Geivett, the Rockies' senior vice president of Major League operations, didn't discuss specific offers for Fowler -- whose name has come up in various speculative reports -- or Cuddyer. But he established Monday, the first day of the annual Baseball Winter Meetings at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Hotel, what the Rockies want.

"We feel like we have talented pitchers, but at the same time, they're trying to get their game together," Geivett said. "Anybody we'd ever look to is probably more reliable at that stage of their career."

How the Rockies define "reliable" is the question.

Several media reports have linked the Rockies with Reds right-hander Homer Bailey, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the Rockies asked for Braves lefty Mike Minor in Fowler-oriented talks, before the Braves signed B.J. Upton to play center.

Bailey, 26, went 13-10 with a 3.68 ERA in 208 innings over 33 starts in what was seen as a breakout year. Minor, who turns 25 on Dec. 26, went 11-10 with a 4.12 ERA in 30 starts. However, both also gave up 26 home runs, which were tied for fifth-most in the National League. The 21 homers Bailey gave up at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park led the NL in homers allowed at home.

It's unclear if the Rockies are interested in Bailey, who has more experience than Minor (111 career starts to 53), and the homer total could be partly attributed to the small dimensions in Cincinnati, which make it at least the equal if not more unfriendly than Coors Field when it comes to the home run. But the Rockies are fresh off the experience of trading with Baltimore last winter for innings-eater Jeremy Guthrie, only to see him riddled by the long ball before the Rockies traded him to the Royals.

The Rockies reduced their left-handers by one when they dealt Matt Reynolds to the D-backs for infielder Ryan Wheeler, but Geivett said the search for late bullpen help is not limited to lefties. Still, the Rockies have confirmed interest in hard-throwing lefty Daniel Schlereth, who was non-tendered by the Tigers after he made just six big league appearances and saw his fastball velocity drop dropped during a 2012 season marred by a shoulder injury.

One possibility for a situational left-hander role is Josh Outman, who went 1-3 with an 8.19 ERA in 27 games (seven starts) after arriving in a trade with the Athletics. Outman, however, pitched well as a starter this winter in the Dominican Republic and will be given a shot at the rotation.

"We're not in the business of turning down starting pitching," Geivett said. "This Major League camp we're about to roll into is going to tell a lot about Mr. Outman. ... We really have no preconceived ideas of where we'd like to use him."

The other area in which the Rockies need depth is at catcher. However, Geivett said it's not a dire need.

Jerry Weinstein, the club's catching coach, visited Wilin Rosario in the Dominican Republic before going to Nashville. Rosario, who hit for power but struggled defensively last season as a rookie, has hit .292 with six homers through six games in the Dominican Republic, and has played well defensively. Geivett said the Rockies want Rosario to play until Christmas, then stop and prepare for the season.

Additionally, Geivett said veteran Ramon Hernandez is healthy after an injury-filled 2012 that ended with hamstring surgery. Hernandez expects to play some winter games in Venezuela at first base and as a designated hitter.

Also, Geivett said the Rockies want Jordan Pacheco, coming off a strong rookie year primarily at third base and first base, to visit Weinstein in San Luis Obispo, Calif., to brush up on his catching. Pacheco was a catcher for much of his Minor League career.

Several Rockies could be getting the call for this year's World Baseball Classic, but health concerns could be an issue.

Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, expected to be back at full strength after a left groin injury limited him to 47 games last season, will play for Team USA only if health allows. Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez is expected to play for Venezuela even though he finished the season with hamstring soreness -- he's under pressure to participate, since the Rockies denied him permission to play winter ball because of the leg issue.

The club decided not to let left-hander Jorge De La Rosa, who made just three starts because of a long recovery from left elbow surgery, play winter ball in Mexico due to knee irritation that he suffered while pitching instructional ball. Mexico could ask him to pitch in the Classic.

Rosario also is a candidate for the Dominican Republic squad.

Colorado Rockies, Michael Cuddyer, Dexter Fowler