Rockies could re-sign Holland, Lucroy for '18

November 1st, 2017

DENVER -- After developing quickly and qualifying for the postseason for the first time since 2009, the Rockies need to guard against losing ground in the late bullpen and behind the plate. At the same time, they need to improve their offensive consistency.

How will they handle both requirements this offseason?

First, the personnel to keep the Rockies winning appears in place.

Center fielder and leadoff man Charlie Blackmon and second baseman DJ LeMahieu, in their last winter of offseason eligibility, and third baseman , under club control through 2019, form a nice offensive and defensive nucleus.

Interestingly, the Rockies' experiment with young starting pitching in 2017 worked well enough that they are likely to stick with the young staff. The Rockies expect full and healthy seasons from righties and , and lefty , and rookies , , and will be asked to take forward steps.

But several key questions face the club. Here's a look at offseason issues:

Free agents: Infielder ($2.5 million club option or $150,000 buyout), righties , Pat Neshek and Greg Holland (expected to exercise player option), lefty Jake McGee, outfielder , catchers and , first baseman .

Arbitration-eligible players: Righty , lefties and Chris Rusin, Blackmon and eMahieu.

Biggest potential free-agent losses: Holland, who signed a one-year deal in February, tied with the Dodgers' for the National League lead in saves with 41, and Lucroy, obtained from the Rangers at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, provided much-needed steadiness. The Rockies believe they are in a good negotiating position, since both players spoke positively of their time in Denver and the team appears to be in position to make competitive offers to both. If they escape, replacing them economically with players of similar accomplishment could be difficult.

Potential free-agent targets: High on the early wish list is , who hit 50 home runs over the past two seasons with the Royals, and could add another power hitter to the offense, and outfielder J.D. Martinez, who is coming off a monster year with the Tigers and D-backs. The Rockies did not make a play for Martinez at the deadline, but could look at him now. The Rockies also will have to be smart about pursuing setup relievers. The Rockies are expected to try to keep McGee and Neshek, but bidding could get heavy. That would leave the Rockies hoping for a solid acquisition within their price range.

Wild card scenario: The Rockies face a difficult decision regarding Gonzalez, who had a rough season before returning to form for the final two months. They have talented outfielders that could step in for him. -- who has power potential -- didn't appear in the Majors because of a rib injury that developed into a back issue, and showed speed and the ability to hit for average but also was not fully developed defensively. The question is whether Gonzalez will put together a more solid full season as a middle-of-the-lineup threat.