Bridich: Rox can pay Nolan, 'grow responsibly'

GM discusses Arenado's arbitration; Magadan being considered for hitting coach

December 10th, 2018

LAS VEGAS -- Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich told MLB Network on Monday that the club could pay a contract north of $200 million to third baseman and still afford to field a competitive club.
Arenado is entering his final season of arbitration and -- at least for 2019 -- he is expected to exceed the $23 million record set by Josh Donaldson last year, when he avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays. The Rockies hope to reach a multi-year contract with Arenado, rather than go into the year with the possibility of losing him to free agency after the season.
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In Bridich's appearance, arranged during the first day of the Winter Meetings, the Colorado GM said "there is nothing to report" on talks and didn't guarantee a deal. But he said the Rockies would not dismiss a high dollar figure out of hand.
• Creative options available to Rox at Meetings
"Our payroll has grown a lot over the past half-decade, and we're continuing to plan on, as I've said in the past, responsible growth," Bridich said. "We're not in a holding pattern. We're not where we're drawing back on our payroll. We believe that we can continue to grow responsibly.
"It's not going to grow by huge, huge, huge jumps every single year, but we've made some commitments that we believe in, guys that we believe in. We signed Charlie Blackmon this past year to a long-term deal [six years, $108 million guaranteed]."
The Rockies haven't reduced their Opening Day payroll since 2013 ($73.9 million after $81.1 million in 2012). Last season started at a club-record $136.9 million.
Bridich said he doesn't necessarily think the current free agency of Manny Machado, a third baseman and shortstop expected to land a mega-deal, governs the club's approach to Arenado because "each guy is his own guy."
• Rockies look to bolster offense at Meetings
During an impromptu session with local media after his TV appearance, Bridich also said:
• On the trade and free-agent markets, the Rockies are looking at a group of "more than a few" players to help the offense.

• Bridich confirmed that former Padres, Red Sox, Rangers and D-backs hitting coach Dave Magadan is under consideration to become the Rockies' hitting coach. Magadan was identified as a "strong candidate" by the Denver Post on Monday. Magadan was the Red Sox hitting coach when Boston defeated Colorado in the 2007 World Series. The Rockies parted ways with former hitting coach Duane Espy after the '18 season.
First-base coach Tony Diaz accepted the Twins' third-base coaching job, but responsibilities can be shifted to accommodate that role, as Ron Gideon has spent the last two seasons on the staff listed as a "coach," with responsibilities all over the field.
Jeff Salazar, assistant hitting coach the past two years, is still on the 2019 staff.
With more and more data available, Bridich said the hitting coach will need to double as a hands-on instructor and someone who can coordinate a game plan. But the game-planning has to be collaborative.
"It's not just one person affecting that group approach of how we're going to beat the pitcher tonight," Bridich said. "There's multiple hitting coaches involved, [plus the] hitting coach and the bench coach a lot of times. The actual players that are in charge of executing and making it happen, they have to be involved.
"We need to get better at that -- the group process."
• Under Bridich, the Rockies have not traded top prospects for established players. Bridich didn't rule it out this offseason, but said careful consideration would come into play before any such deal.
"I very much believe in our system," Bridich said. "It doesn't mean that we're anxious or feel like we need to trade those guys. But it's definitely beneficial to us in that if we are looking to make sure that we leave no stone unturned, to make sure that we have enough depth in our system to add in a trade if we need to."
• Left-handed hitting and right-handed hitting are in-house candidates at second base, and middle infielder Brendan Rodgers is the team's No. 1 prospect, per MLB Pipeline. But could the Rockies re-sign two-time All-Star DJ LeMahieu?
"We have some guys that are, in theory, able to come in and play second base," said Bridich, who expressed respect for LeMahieu. "He is definitely somebody that we're kicking around, but that's just part of the overall process. It's tough for me to handicap."
• Bridich said the Rockies talked to the D-backs about a possible trade for star first baseman , who wound up being sent to the Cardinals. However, when asked if there was any shot Colorado could acquire one of the sport's biggest right-handed-hitting power threats from a division rival, Bridich laughed and said he was "not surprised [Goldschmidt] didn't end up in a Rockies uniform, based on what we were told."
• Bridich also acknowledged that the Rockies talked to the Phillies about power-hitting first baseman , who was traded to the Mariners in the deal that brought to Philadelphia. Reports are, however, that Seattle could make Santana available.
• The Rockies have been linked to the versatile , who filled many defensive roles and was an offensive force on successful Astros teams in recent years. Bridich didn't reveal the degree to which the Rockies are pursuing Gonzalez, but did offer a scouting report.

"He's always been talented, but he's become pretty productive at the Major League level, so we're certainly aware, but it's always tough to say what the reality is," Bridich said.