DENVER -- This much is known: Teams are asking the Rockies about right-handed pitcher Jon Gray -- the only pitcher in club history to reach double figures in wins for four straight seasons -- while exploring possible trades. Beyond that, there are no answers. The only answers Gray has are about his health.
But that should not stop fans from asking or us from giving a shot at an answer:
Why in the world are some writers wanting to trade Gray?
Writers don’t have that kind of power. As has been the case since 2018, teams have been asking the Rockies for Gray. The moments of production and the two years of club control make him attractive to other teams. Also, the Rockies have to option to keep the 28-year-old Gray or even sign him to a multiyear contract.
Opinion: If the Rockies believe their team is healthy and a few moves away from contending the way they did in 2017 and ’18, they need Gray’s ’19 performance. That’s 150 strikeouts in as many innings, 6-2 with a 3.46 ERA at a Coors Field.
A deal would have to give the Rockies a starter who can do better than Gray (but at a lower salary). Plus the Rockies would seek a player who can help another immediate need (catcher, relief pitching, possibly the outfield) or a prospect, but preferably both.
Reached on Friday, Gray said he is not privy to potential contract or trade talks. But he was able to give an update on the left foot stress fracture that ended his season in August.
“I haven’t been fully cleared to run, though I’m very close,” Gray said. “I have been doing arm exercises and body workouts. I also have scheduled another trip to Driveline [the performance company in suburban Seattle that helps pitchers with exercise and analysis] right before camp starts.
“Things are healing well, and I think I’ll be better than ever in my return.”
Realizing it’s a double-edged sword, but did extending Nolan Arenado handicap the Rockies from adding payroll and plugging holes in the lineup?
Without Arenado, there is a massive hole in the lineup and the defense. He’s too important to a club that believes it will immediately rebound to be considered an albatross.
I’d say the Rockies are hamstrung by some of the bigger contracts to guys coming off less-than scintillating years: outfielder Ian Desmond ($25 million guarantee over the next two years), first baseman Daniel Murphy ($14 million guarantee in 2020) and relief pitchers Wade Davis ($17 million in 2020), Jake McGee ($11.5 million guarantee in 2020) and Bryan Shaw ($11 million guarantee in 2020).
Could there come a time when Arenado’s contract is a problem? Only if the team backed up a poor 2019 with poor years in the immediate future. There is, of course, an opt-out for Arenado after 2021.
Are the Rockies adding more netting along the first- and third-base walls and how will this affect autograph Sundays for the fans?
Although I don’t know exactly what the Rockies will do netting-wise, I would doubt it would affect Sunday autographs. I’ve been to Washington and Los Angeles, and the netting doesn’t seem to affect the ability to get signatures.
Are the Rox interested in Willson Contreras? How much flexibility goes into trades and prospect packages?
Contreras is heading into his first year of arbitration (projected at $4.5 million by MLB Trade Rumors), which means three more seasons of club contractual control. That means value.
While Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber (two years of club control) and outfielder Albert Almora Jr. (three years of control) may be more readily available, the Rockies could ask for Contreras. And the Cubs may want more than Gray. And if such a deal doesn’t provide a proper replacement for Gray, the Rockies would be in the market for a starting pitcher.