Rockies extend Kinley, claim lefty Suter

November 19th, 2022

DENVER -- In keeping with their stated goals for this offseason -- pitching, pitching and more pitching -- the Rockies made a pair of moves on Friday that they hope will bolster their bullpen, which had an MLB-worst 4.85 ERA in 2022.

The club reached an agreement with right-hander on a three-year contract extension that runs through 2025, the team announced on Friday. There's also a club option for 2026. In addition, the club claimed veteran left-hander off waivers from the Brewers.

Kinley, 31, posted a sterling 0.75 ERA in 25 games in 2022, his third season with Colorado, emerging as a setup man for closer . Kinley struck out 27 and walked six in 24 innings. His season ended early, however, when he underwent surgery to repair a flexor tear in his right elbow in July.

"We're hopeful that Tyler is going to come back healthy," said Rockies general manager Bill Schmidt. "From everything we've been told, we're expecting that. We like Tyler the person, first and foremost. We're anticipating a full recovery, and we want him to be a part of things going forward."

Schmidt said Kinley is still on track to return to the mound for Colorado sometime around July. The Rockies hope he will pick up right where he left off in 2022. Before his stellar start to last season, he had a 4.88 ERA over 94 innings in his first two years with the club.

Suter, meanwhile, joins the Rockies after seven seasons with the Brewers in which he posted a 3.51 ERA over 394 2/3 innings. The 33-year-old’s best stretch came from 2020-21, when he had a 3.09 ERA over 77 appearances (five starts). That came on the heels of a 2019 campaign in which he made only nine appearances, all in September, after recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Last season, Suter posted a 3.78 ERA in 66 2/3 innings, but his strikeout rate was down (from 22% in 2021, to 19.5%), as was his ground-ball rate (from 53% to 45%). Still, his ability to generate soft contact remained excellent -- his average exit velocity of 85.7 mph and his hard-hit rate of 30.4% each ranked in the top 5 percent of qualified pitchers, according to Statcast.

Soft contact and ground balls are desirable at the hitter-friendly Coors Field, even if Suter's 87 mph fastball doesn't generate all that much swing-and-miss.

"His numbers went down last year, but a lot of times, when relievers have their numbers go down, they bounce back the next year," Schmidt said of Suter. "And that's what we're taking a shot at. He's a guy that can fill plenty of roles. We'll use him out of the bullpen. We needed to add another left-hander."

The Rockies had only one left-handed reliever in the bullpen for much of last season, so that was a big area of need, as has been the relief corps as a whole. Colorado is looking at other areas, as well, but pitching stands to be one that will continue to be a top priority.

"We're still trying to improve the ballclub," Schmidt said. "We're going to look for more opportunities to acquire pitching, and we're still trying to find, if he's out there, a center-field guy."