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Rockies' offseason centered on 'pen, catcher

MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

DENVER -- The Rockies got some of their best production out of the bullpen and at the catcher position in 2017, and those two areas have become the focus for general manager Jeff Bridich this offseason.

Many of the key players who solidified those areas last season, when the Rockies made their first postseason appearance since 2009, have become free agents. Those would include closer Greg Holland, who earned 41 saves on a one-year contract; right-hander Pat Neshek, acquired from the Phillies days before the non-waiver Trade Deadline; lefty Jake McGee, who shook off a knee injury that marred his 2016 to hold opponents to a .224 batting average in 57 1/3 innings; and catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who hit .310 with an .865 OPS in 46 games after arriving in a trade with the Rangers.

DENVER -- The Rockies got some of their best production out of the bullpen and at the catcher position in 2017, and those two areas have become the focus for general manager Jeff Bridich this offseason.

Many of the key players who solidified those areas last season, when the Rockies made their first postseason appearance since 2009, have become free agents. Those would include closer Greg Holland, who earned 41 saves on a one-year contract; right-hander Pat Neshek, acquired from the Phillies days before the non-waiver Trade Deadline; lefty Jake McGee, who shook off a knee injury that marred his 2016 to hold opponents to a .224 batting average in 57 1/3 innings; and catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who hit .310 with an .865 OPS in 46 games after arriving in a trade with the Rangers.

"To this point we've been primarily focused on pitching and catching in terms of our offseason," Bridich said Tuesday at Coors Field.

Hot Stove Tracker

The Rockies will try to retain Holland, who turned down his 2018 option to seek a multi-year contract, but they also have talked to free agents Wade Davis and Brandon Kintzler; the Rockies discussed acquiring Kintzler from the Twins before he went to the Nationals at the Deadline. 

Trades also are possible. The Rockies spent time last year researching Justin Wilson, who was dealt last season from the Tigers to the Cubs, and Zach Britton, whom the Orioles kept last year but could be moved this winter. The Rays' Alex Colome also could be a target, although the Rockies have never been linked to him.

Video: Rockies looking to build off strong 2017 season

Re-signing Lucroy has been a priority for the Rockies, but the team also is exploring free agents and possible trades.

"We are talking," Bridich said regarding Lucroy.

Overall, it's a slow-moving offseason. Clubs' pursuit of Japanese pitcher-outfielder Shohei Ohtani and the Marlins' shopping of slugging outfielder Giancarlo Stanton (with the Giants and Cardinals the frontrunners) are factors that seem to have slowed the pace of moves.

With Carlos Gonzalez, the longtime right fielder, and Mark Reynolds, a regular at first base the last two years, exploring free agency, the Rockies can be creative in their search, given the numerous free-agent and trade possibilities.

"All the names are still out there," Bridich said. "It kind of depends. Is it outfield? Is it first base? We've got a little bit of room there, some flexibility to play with. It doesn't mean that we have to be locked into this one guy or one set of guys. We can keep our minds open not only as it relates to free-agent corner bats, but free-agent potential."

One name that won't be on a Rockies uniform is Ohtani's. Bridich acknowledged talking to his representatives early in the process, but the Rockies bowed out because they saw him as a pitcher. Ohtani's goal is to be a rare pitcher and hitter.

Asked whether he has explored trying to re-sign Gonzalez, who finished strong but overall had a down year (.262/.339/.423) in 2017, Bridich said, "I have zero thoughts right now. At some point I probably will."

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.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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