Bridich: Rockies' offseason focus is offense
GM says club will continue multi-year talks with Arenado
DENVER -- Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich on Friday characterized as positive the club's relationship with third baseman Nolan Arenado, who can become a free agent after the 2019 season.
The Rockies, who won the National League Wild Card Game over the Cubs before being swept by the Brewers in the NL Division Series, have several options with Arenado this offseason.
After a two-year, $29.5 million contract left 2019 as a final arbitration year, the Rockies could negotiate a multi-year agreement with Arenado, who will turn 28 on April 16, deal strictly with the '19 season and allow him to become a free agent, or trade him this offseason or during next season to be assured of receiving something more than a potential MLB Draft pick as compensation. In a conference call with local media, Bridich said negotiations will go as forthrightly as in the past.
"Once we made the decision to not have discussions during the season, not press the issue and keep the focus on the field for him, we knew that there were going to be discussions at some point this offseason, and I expect that there will be," Bridich said. "We've already engaged over a number of years, just kind of going back and forth, as I've hinted at or mentioned in the past.
"They've been good conversations. They've been honest conversations, they've been adult, forthright, everything has been above-board that way for both sides. I would expect that to continue. It's not like there's a perfect timeline. We'd love to have him here. He knows that. We'll see what happens."
Bridich said he'll have a better idea of what the team's specific plans are after the General Managers Meetings, which begin on Monday in Carlsbad, Calif. However, improving the offense in general is the top priority.
"We'll keep an open mind on everything, but we'll be a little bit more focused on our offense this offseason as compared to last season -- we were bullpen and pitching-focused," Bridich said. "A lot remains to be seen and learned."
No qualifying offers
The Rockies will not issue qualifying offers to any of the free agents who became eligible to sign with other teams on Friday. Key among them are right-handed reliever Adam Ottavino and second baseman DJ LeMahieu. Bridich said he plans to approach both on the open market.
Ottavino, who turns 33 on Nov. 22, is coming off a three-year, $10.4 million contract that he signed while coming off Tommy John surgery. Ottavino struggled to a 5.06 ERA in 2017, but he bounced back with a 2.43 ERA -- with 112 strikeouts in 77 2/3 innings -- in '18.
"Adam understands how we feel about him," Bridich said. "We believed in him enough a number of years ago to give him a multi-year deal. That in itself is a huge vote of confidence, or should be, and we persevered with him through 2017. It was awesome to see what he did to be what he can be, and be who he is in 2018."
On LeMahieu, Bridich said, "His presence on the team and his quiet leadership in the clubhouse -- all those positive attributes that we've talked about in the past, those are all true, and they've been important for us as we've developed into a playoff-relevant team over the last three seasons. We'll see how it goes."
No rush on Black
Manager Bud Black is headed into the final year of his three-year contract, which has a mutual option for 2020. Black has led the Rockies to the postseason each of his first two years. It's the first time the club has earned consecutive postseason berths.
"There's a great appreciation for who Buddy is and what he's done with us here, and that's not lost on us at all," Bridich said. "In due time, there will be conversations to see what's best for us and for him in the future, he and his family. But all that being said, there are a lot of positive vibes all the way around."
When talking about the late stages of the regular season and the postseason, Bridich said, "Our team offense was basically MIA, and it was frustrating for everybody involved."
While Bridich has set a priority to address personnel, he believes the experience should aid the returning players.
"It has to be a learning experience, in terms of what was going on at that time," the GM said. "The stress and some of the pressure that our guys were putting themselves under, it was almost like Gerardo Parra [now a free agent], in late September and early October, was really the only guy that had stretches of consistent, quality approaches at the plate and at-bat."