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Five questions facing Rockies this offseason

@harding_at_mlb
September 30, 2019

DENVER -- The Rockies went to the postseason in 2017 and '18. They finished 71-91 this year, and needed a win on the final day to escape the National League West cellar. Here are five questions that the Rockies, and their fans, will spend the offseason mulling: 1. How much

DENVER -- The Rockies went to the postseason in 2017 and '18. They finished 71-91 this year, and needed a win on the final day to escape the National League West cellar.

Here are five questions that the Rockies, and their fans, will spend the offseason mulling:

1. How much financial flexibility do the Rockies have?

The struggle this year came despite a club-record payroll of $156.5 million -- 12th-highest in the Majors. It’s possible the club will sit with shortstop Trevor Story to discuss a multi-year deal, and there are several other arbitration cases. There’s also the matter of $35.5 million committed next year to relievers Wade Davis, Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee -- all coming off struggles. Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich has said the payroll will grow, but responsibly. The poor finish suggests that spending more may be in order. The Rockies do have more revenue certainty, thanks to a new multiyear deal with AT&T Sports Networks announced on Monday.

2. Will they actually make moves?

On one hand, righties German Márquez and Jon Gray (Colorado's two best pitchers this year) returning from injury and lefty Kyle Freeland bouncing back from a poor year and injury could make the rotation better, even without any additions. Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, David Dahl and Story, plus a group of younger players with a year under their belts, could mean a forward step.

On the other hand, can the Rockies’ front office simply depend on rebounds and not lose trust -- not just from their fans, but within the clubhouse -- that everything is being done to push the team forward?

3. What are the club's options?

Is this the offseason the Rockies spring for a veteran pitcher who can steady the staff if some of the homegrown pitchers struggle? Even though such moves are expensive and haven’t worked as well as the develop-yourself method? Can the mix of players be jolted, both for performance and to interject a different spirit in a mostly homegrown team? How do the Rockies reconcile a track record under Bridich that shows better with homegrown players than most free-agent acquisitions?

4. What about the bullpen?

The Rockies saw righty Adam Ottavino sign with the Yankees last offseason, but felt Scott Oberg, Seunghwan Oh (whose season ended with a right elbow injury) and Davis could be the basis for a group that could handle late-season games. Going into this offseason, only Oberg’s 2019 performance engenders such confidence. But the salaries would mean the Rockies would likely need to take back big-salary players in need of change to deal one of their underperforming relievers.

5. Who are the Rockies?

This may be the biggest. The Rockies didn’t ride the momentum of two postseason trips and Arenado’s six-year, $260 million extension. While no one is satisfied, do the Rockies still feel they’re in a winning window? The club’s history of few such windows means Colorado has to fight a perception that it has gone back to losing ways.

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.