Catch up with the Rockies as 2022 season nears

March 13th, 2022

DENVER -- The Rockies enter what promises to be a wild runup to the 2022 season with sizable needs, a couple roster spots to play with and presumably room to add to the payroll.

Here’s what has happened and what is still left to do:

What moves have the Rockies made?
While there have been no player acquisitions, the Rockies retained two potential free agents -- first baseman C.J.Cron (two years, $14.5 million) and right-handed relief pitcher Jhoulys Chacín (one year, $1.25 million). They achieved cost certainty with righty starter Antonio Senzatela (five years, $43 million, with a 2027 option) two years before free agency; and catcher Elias Díaz (three years, $14.5 million) as he entered his last year of arbitration.

Who have the Rockies lost?
During the season, the Rockies stated that they wanted to re-sign righty Jon Gray. Gray also said he wanted to stay. But the recurrence of Gray’s right forearm strain in September seemed to halt negotiations, and when the Rockies chose not to give him the $18.4 million qualifying offer, the landscape changed. Gray signed with the Rangers for four years and $56 million.

Is another big departure coming?
It's next to impossible to imagine a scenario where the Rockies retain shortstop Trevor Story, who turned down a qualifying offer and is one of a few members of a stellar shortstop class still unsigned. The Rangers signed two – Marcus Semien (presumably to play second base) at seven years, $175 million; and Corey Seager at 10 years, $325 million; and the Tigers signed Javier Báez for six years and $140 million.

Story remains on the market along with Carlos Correa. Both expect to land contracts way above the Rockies’ payroll possibility.

What other internal business awaits the Rockies?
In addition to the deals for Senzatela and Díaz, the team has avoided arbitration with righty relievers Daniel Bard (one year, $4.4 million) and Tyler Kinley (one year, $1.025 million). The club must still come to terms with arbitration-eligible players Kyle Freeland, Ryan McMahon, Raimel Tapia, Carlos Estévez and Robert Stephenson.

While the Rockies reached multiyear contracts with starters Germán Márquez and Senzatela, there was never a movement toward such a deal with Gray, and there has thus far been no momentum toward such a contract with Freeland.

The Rockies, in the past, have proposed multiyear contracts more often to position players, so attempts to at least eat the arbitration years -- and possibly cover free-agent years -- of McMahon and Tapia are not out of the question.

What does all this leave to be done before Spring Training?
Quite a bit.

Through a trade or free agency, the Rockies need power, and before the lockout they seemed willing to bid on Kyle Schwarber, Michael Conforto and Kris Bryant. Their preferred option is to play McMahon at third and Brendan Rodgers at second.

The current payroll, including arbitration projections, is a shade under $96.7 million, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts. The intention going into the offseason was to increase beyond the 2021 final total of just below $120 million. While there isn’t room for a mega-contract that Story could stand to receive, the Rockies need to accommodate the need for a big bat and a shortstop.

The club is also looking for bargains to improve starting pitching depth, which would allow for development time for prospects.