Marquez, Rockies complete 5-year contract

April 6th, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG -- On the eve of some life-changing news, had to have been bursting with excitement.

On Tuesday, Marquez and the Rockies agreed to a five-year, $43 million contract pending a physical. The club announced the deal on Saturday.

But on Monday afternoon, Marquez was simply content to play the role of the talented prospect the Rays let slip away.

Was he happy to be back at Tropicana Field and around the organization that raised him? Did he have any mixed feelings about pitching against Tampa Bay?

“I remember just a great organization,” the 24-year-old said through a translator. “They treated me well, they gave me the opportunity to play baseball, and I’m grateful for that opportunity.”

As media crowded around his locker before Monday’s game, Marquez -- who’s slated to start Wednesday’s finale against his former team -- politely fielded questions about the organization that traded him to Colorado in 2016. Smiling, humble and soft-spoken, the right-hander let nothing slip about his impending big news.

Nothing, perhaps, except for the word “grateful.” Over and over again, in response to nearly every question, that word surfaced. I’m grateful for the chance. I’m grateful to the Rays. I’m grateful for the Rockies.

“He’s the most humble person you’ll ever meet,” said his agent, Daniel Szew, when reached by phone Tuesday. “When he got traded, he took it all in stride, and said, ‘OK, now what’s the next step?’

“He’s a budding superstar, and you would never even know it by talking to him.”

Marquez’s new contract covers 2019-23 and includes a club option for ’24 that would become a mutual option if Marquez has two top-three finishes in Cy Young Award voting.

It also includes a $1 million bonus if Marquez is traded, and escalators if he wins the Cy Young Award, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal. A first-place finish would result in $1 million being added to the fifth year in the deal and the option year. He would receive $500,000 in the fifth year and another $500,000 in the option year for any finish from second to fifth place.

That’s certainly plenty of reason to be grateful.

Marquez was signed by the Rays as an amateur free agent out of Venezuela in July 2011 and rose to Class A Advanced Charlotte before he was traded to Colorado -- in a package that included reliever Jake McGee -- during the ‘16 offseason.

We all know where the story goes from there: Tampa Bay’s loss quickly became the Rockies’ gain as Marquez proved his worth with Colorado and finished last season with a 14-11 record and 3.77 ERA that ranked eighth lowest in club history for a starter who qualified for the league title.

His .241 batting average against was sixth lowest in team history. He struck out 230 in 196 innings. There was a lot to like about 2018.

Due to reach arbitration for the first time in 2019, Marquez opened his campaign with a bang, firing six innings of one-run ball against the Marlins and fanning seven to win his season debut.

Given recent developments, does Marquez ever mull over what might have been in Tampa Bay? That question, posed to him Monday afternoon, foreshadowed much more than intended.
So, too, did the answer.

“I don’t really look back on it,” Marquez said. “At first, I was a little worried about the transition [to Colorado] -- meeting new players, new teammates, how they’d treat me and things like that. But the Rockies did a great job, and I’m very grateful for it.”

On Tuesday, even more so.