Rockies don't plan on dealing young starters

Colorado focused on improving bullpen on Day 3, but not at expense of talented arms

December 13th, 2017

DENVER -- Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich has been open to making trades this week at the Winter Meetings, but he hasn't budged when teams have asked for a strong group of young starting pitchers.

The Rockies have also explored trades for relief help but thus far have gone the free-agent route, having reached agreements with righty for three years and lefty Jake McGee for three years and a team option for a fourth, and they're reportedly closing in on a deal to re-sign closer Greg Holland.

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As for trades, it seems teams are asking for what the Rockies don't want to give up.

"We really don't have any need or desire to trade any of our young starting pitchers," Bridich said during the MLB Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. "But I will say that when we talk to other teams or when teams bring ideas to us, those guys are usually pretty darn popular."

That coincides with what people from other clubs have been saying. Having made the postseason in 2017 with young starters and possessing starters throughout their list of top prospects, the Rockies figure those pitchers do them more good in purple pinstripes than as trade bait.

After righty , who made a return from testicular cancer late in the 2017 season, no other starter has beyond two years' Major League service time. Former top picks and both had solid stretches in 2017, and four rookies -- , , and -- had significant starter innings.

There are four starting pitchers in the top 10 in MLB Pipeline's ranking of the top Rockies prospects: Riley Pint (No. 2), Peter Lambert (No. 5), Ryan Castellani (No. 6) and 40-man Major League roster member (No. 10). And there are more behind them. Unless Bridich changes his mind, they'll all remain Rockies this offseason.

Worth noting

• Talks with Holland, who is represented by agent Scott Boras, could produce a deal, but Bridich was surprised by morning media reports that the sides were closing in on a contract agreement. Bridich said Wednesday afternoon that the sides were talking, but not close.

• Lefty Chris Rusin, who went 5-1 with a 2.65 ERA in 60 games for the Rockies and finished second in the Majors among relievers with 85 innings, went into last year considered a competitor for a starting rotation role. He might have begun the year in that role had he not suffered an oblique injury during Spring Training. Bridich said Rusin will now be treated as a reliever from the beginning, although he could pick up a spot start in an emergency.

• Bridich said it's possible the late-innings expenditures could be linked to the degree to which the Rockies will pursue a corner bat, either at first base or in the outfield.

"It's just a natural part of team building and trying to plan, and it's a fluid situation," Bridich said.