Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

Rockies News arrow-downArrow Down icon Arrow Up icon

Inbox: How may Rox approach arbitration?

@harding_at_mlb
November 23, 2020

DENVER -- Will the special economics of the 2021 season lead to a drastic change with Rockies pitching? That’s the first subject of this week’s combination of Rockies Inbox questions and early offseason thoughts.

DENVER -- Will the special economics of the 2021 season lead to a drastic change with Rockies pitching? That’s the first subject of this week’s combination of Rockies Inbox questions and early offseason thoughts.

What's the likelihood Jon Gray is not on the roster next season? Thinking a non-tender is nonsense as, at the very least, they can get a small return via trade, right?
-- @KDub1988

All money-related questions are on the table. Owner, chairman and CEO Dick Monfort alluded to the economic issues that loom over the Rockies -- and all teams -- after playing a shortened season with no fans, and facing uncertainty in 2021.

Against that backdrop, sentiment in the sport is that teams will aggressively non-tender arbitration-eligible players who are due large 2021 salaries. Gray, 29, once a Rockies top pick who has generally been solid over six seasons, is projected to earn $5.9 million through the arbitration process, per MLB Trade Rumors. That would make him the most expensive of the team’s 13 arbitration-eligible players.

Offseason checklist: Rockies’ needs, moves

Non-tendering Gray with the hopes of signing him away from other bidding clubs would be a gamble. A shoulder injury led to the first arm issue of his career and severely affected his 2020 performance (2-4, 6.69 ERA in eight starts), but there was no indication that the arm needed anything more than rest and rehab. So don’t expect anyone to be scared off by the potential of arm damage.

They may be looking to control payroll, but it’s hard for the Rockies to turn away from starting pitching. Antonio Senzatela (153 ERA+, with 100 being MLB average), Germán Márquez (140) and Kyle Freeland (122) would have been bigger stories had the bullpen and offense not performed poorly. Gray has had three 100 ERA+ seasons.

Say the Rockies tender Gray and seek savings in the rotation by non-tendering (with the possibility of retaining) righty Chi Chi González (projected at $1.2 million in his first arbitration year). Catcher Tony Wolters (projected $1.9 million in the second of four arbitration-eligible seasons) is another non-tender candidate. Fellow catcher Elias Díaz also is arbitration-eligible but projected at $850,000.

Don’t expect Gray to hit the non-tender list, unless the Rockies have an indication that they can get a bargain because of the glut of players that could be non-tendered.

Dec. 2 is the deadline for offering players 2021 contracts.

More thoughts on arbitration …
When half a roster is arb-eligible, the decisions are especially difficult. The list includes four key relievers -- righties Mychal Givens (projected by MLB Trade Rumors to land a $3.6 million salary), Daniel Bard ($1.7 million projected), Carlos Estévez ($1.5 million projected) and Jairo Díaz ($800,000 projected). With so much more of the bullpen in need of construction, can the Rockies turn away from any of these?

The list also includes three regulars -- outfielders David Dahl ($2.6 million projected) and Raimel Tapia ($1.5 million projected), and infielder Ryan McMahon ($1.7 million projected).

Should the Rockies pursue Jon Lester and/or Sean Doolittle? They’d be high on my list if I was GM.
-- @glimmergoddess

Maybe the economy could put Lester, 37 on Jan. 7, in the Rockies’ price range. But even if the team makes a major trade that frees up money, I expect the Rockies to use the money to address the offense.

Hot Stove Tracker

Doolittle, 34, would be a shrewd move. The Rockies finished last season with no lefties in the 'pen. While young lefty depth is on the shopping list, bringing in such a proven pitcher would be quite shrewd. Expect the Rockies to monitor Doolittle’s market.

Now, here’s what you really want to discuss …
Will Nolan Arenado be traded, and are the National League West rival Dodgers a potential landing spot? MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi detailed the possibility last week.

The club hasn't given any insights about specific offseason moves at this point in the winter, and early indications are the teams haven’t talked. The Rockies may be poised to listen if the Dodgers call, but the demands for a return would be extreme to deal a superstar within the division.

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.