Rockies focused on catching, pitching on Day 2

Team's pursuit of CarGo, potential contract extensions on hold for now

December 12th, 2017

DENVER -- It's not that the Rockies have said goodbye to right fielder , a star for nine seasons in Colorado. They've just been too busy otherwise to say much of anything, general manager Jeff Bridich noted Tuesday at the MLB Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

For example, MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported Tuesday night that the Rockies filled a key hole by reaching an agreement with right-handed reliever , who made at least 70 appearances in each of the past five seasons with the Indians.

Of the key free agents from the 2017 Rockies still available, Bridich has been most aggressive in pursuing closer Greg Holland -- while also looking at free agent and trade options who can close games, such as the Rays' Alex Colome and the Orioles' Zach Britton -- and lefty setup man Jake McGee.

The Rockies spoke to righty setup man Pat Neshek, but he reportedly has agreed to a two-year contract with the Phillies. Shaw, however, stands to replace Neshek in the bullpen.

Before the Winter Meetings, the Rockies addressed their catching vacancy by signing veteran Chris Iannetta for two years and $8.5 million.

The way Bridich tends to operate -- take care of what must be done in order of importance -- means retaining Gonzalez is a task for another time.

"Our focus and where most of our energy and time is on catching and pitching," Bridich said. "It's not that we can't multi-task. It's just that you can have so many irons in the fire in this process that you end up just getting burned. One of the ways we want to go about business is if we are going to create priorities, make sure we stay true to that, unless there is some sort of game-changing scenario."

Hot Stove Tracker

Bridich said few non-pitching free agents have signed, with Iannetta a notable exception, so he doesn't feel he is falling behind by not devising a strategy about Gonzalez quicker. The Rockies, Astros, Orioles and Athletics are among those clubs interested in CarGo.

Gonzalez struggled for much of the 2017 season and finished with a .262 batting average, 14 home runs and 57 RBIs. But he hit .325 with eight homers and 31 RBIs after Aug. 1 and helped the Rockies earn a National League Wild Card spot. Bridich said the season ended with positive feelings from both player and team.

The Rockies are looking at acquiring a run-producing corner player, either first base or outfield or some combination. They have acknowledged early talks with free-agent first baseman and their regular first baseman in '17, . But Santana has a long list of suitors, and the Rockies haven't figured out the exact plan with Reynolds. He came to camp on a Minor League contract as a utility guy last year, then took over first base when suffered a left hand injury in Spring Training.

The setup roles are almost as high a priority as the closer since such a pitcher can slide into the ninth inning, if necessary. McGee served as closer for part of the 2016 season after was injured -- McGee's effectiveness was reduced by his own knee injury -- and earned three saves last year while pitching solidly (58 strikeouts to 16 walks in 57 1/3 innings).

"We're conscious of that," Bridich said. "Sometimes different guys have to come in and be ready to do those sorts of things. As it relates to Jake, he's been somebody that we've continued some dialogue with."

Worth noting

• The last two NL batting champs, second baseman DJ LeMahieu (2016) and Charlie Blackmon (2017), are in their final year of arbitration, and star third baseman has his final arbitration year after the 2018 season. The idea of signing any or all to long-term deals is on a case-by-case basis, Bridich said.

"The only true connection with some of those things is there are certain guys that become free agents at the same time," Bridich said. "We've definitely thought about things a lot. We try to retain our guys, generally, if they enjoy being in Colorado and if they believe continuing to be a Colorado Rockie is a good thing for them in their career, and see if there is reason to talk further. Most likely, we'll do that at some point with all those guys."

• First baseman and outfielder J.D. Martinez figure to receive the largest contracts on the open market. Bridich said the Rockies will not be participating in the bidding for those players.

• Multiple reports mentioned the Rockies as being among the teams inquiring about Marlins outfielder , but Bridich said, "We haven't had any recent talks about Ozuna whatsoever."

• The Rockies and the Double-A Hartford Yard Goats have reached a two-year extension on their player development contract, through 2020.