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To land big fish, Rox must be willing to sacrifice

Teams eyeing Colorado starters, top prospect as potential trade returns
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

DENVER -- The Rockies can envision Carlos Santana, whom the Phillies would like to move, providing big-time offense production at first base. Trades with the Marlins for catcher J.T. Realmuto or Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard also are attractive ideas, but they're all talk until Colorado answers what it's willing to give up.

For now, the Rockies are one of several teams in the mix for all of them. But the reason Colorado isn't beyond the exploration level is the same reason there isn't a credible, specific trade rumor for any of the players. The Phillies, Marlins and Mets have made clear they're seeking top prospects and impact Major Leaguers under club control.

DENVER -- The Rockies can envision Carlos Santana, whom the Phillies would like to move, providing big-time offense production at first base. Trades with the Marlins for catcher J.T. Realmuto or Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard also are attractive ideas, but they're all talk until Colorado answers what it's willing to give up.

For now, the Rockies are one of several teams in the mix for all of them. But the reason Colorado isn't beyond the exploration level is the same reason there isn't a credible, specific trade rumor for any of the players. The Phillies, Marlins and Mets have made clear they're seeking top prospects and impact Major Leaguers under club control.

MLB.com has learned from multiple sources that teams Colorado is talking to often ask for two of the most valuable assets when it comes to big production at a low price -- starting rotation members Kyle Freeland and German Marquez. Infielder Brendan Rodgers, the Rockies' No. 1 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, is also popular on the request line.

Video: WLD@USA: Rodgers doubles to left in the 1st inning

General manager Jeff Bridich has said there are no untouchables, but those three would be difficult to move. In the recent past, teams have asked Colorado for starting pitcher Jon Gray and outfielder David Dahl although both face question marks -- Gray because of a rough 2018 that included a move to Triple-A, Dahl because of an injury history.

However, it appears the Rockies -- who have stated a goal to improve the offense but also a want to upgrade catching and collect impact pitchers -- are working the trade market with gusto. Industry sources say the club is playing a waiting game with free agents while working through complicated talks with other clubs to see if trades are possible.

Colorado's interest in Santana, who turns 33 on April 8, as a corner bat is not new. They looked at bidding last offseason, but spent a total of $106 million on three-year contracts for relief pitchers Wade Davis, Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw. Santana took three years and $60 million from the Phillies.

Video: MLB@JPN: Santana smashes a laser 3-run homer

Santana started slowly and batted .229, but ended with 24 home runs and 86 RBIs. Philadelphia's problem is that Santana's presence forced power-hitting Rhys Hoskins to play left field, which is outside of his skill set. If the Phils can trade Santana, the plan would be to move Hoskins to first base, his more natural position.

In theory, if Colorado could land Santana, it would free Ian Desmond to move from first base to left field and Ryan McMahon to get his work at second base, where the Rockies feel he could excel. Of course, there are a couple rubs. Santana is due $35 million over the next two seasons. Also, while the Phillies are in play for the most expensive free agents, they would seek from Colorado either young Major League impact players or prospects.

Even if the more expensive Rockies coming off rough years -- Desmond and Shaw come to mind -- can be moved, the key to whether Colorado could truly obtain a Santana, Syndergaard or Realmuto is the young, controllable talent headed the other way.

Video: MLB@JPN: Realmuto's opposite-field jack opens scoring

Throughout the offseason, the Rockies have been considered a long shot for Realmuto; however, if reports are to be believed, there is no team with an inside shot because of Miami's asking price. But if it's going to trade for a frontline catcher, Colorado is more likely to pursue Realmuto, who is under club control through 2020, than reportedly available receivers at the end of their contracts -- the Blue Jays' Russell Martin ($20 million) and the Pirates' Francisco Cervelli ($11.5 million).

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.

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