The state of the Colorado Rockies as of the end of the 2020 season is rather bleak. After coming off back-to-back playoff seasons in 2017 and 2018, the Rockies looked like a young, up and coming team who had a good core of homegrown players with solid, young starting pitching along with a good bullpen. Then 2019 happened. The Rockies would go on to have a 71-91 season which was good enough for 4th in the NL West.
What happened there? Stop me if you have heard this before: the Rockies’ pitching failed them. Kyle Freeland, after coming off of a dominating 2018 finishing 4th for the Cy Young award, completely dropped off allowing a ton of home runs. This required him to be sent down to AAA in Albuquerque where he would pretty much stay for the entire season. The $106 Million “Super Bullpen” (comprised of Jake McGee, Bryan Shaw, and Wade Davis) that GM Jeff Bridich built in 2018 completely flopped. However, they did re-sign superstar 3B Nolan Arenado to an 8 year, $260 Million extension with a 3 year opt-out and a full no trade clause.
Being sports fans, I am sure we have all seen teams be good for a year, be bad the next year for whatever reason (injuries the most likely cause), and then pop up and be good the again. Well, a lot of people, myself included, thought that would happen with the Colorado Rockies. Apparently Jeff Bridich and Co. in the Rockies’ Front Office thought so too because they spent literally no money after 2019 to sure up their roster.
So what is the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result. That is what the Rockies did, and currently are doing. Once the 2020 season happened, the Rockies came out like they normally do: hot. They came out to an 11-3 start with star RF Charlie Blackmon at one point hitting with a .500 avg. After that, they finish in typical Rockies fashion and just run out of gas. They would finish 26-34, which in a normal season would equate to yet another 70+ win season and finish 4th in the NL West.
So, where does this leave us? The Rockies have 3 decisions to make: they can enact the Doomsday Scenario, the Hail Mary Scenario, or the Stupid Scenario. The Rockies have key contracts that are up at the end of the year: Trevor Story, Nolan Arenado (option), Charlie Blackmon (option), and Ian Desmond.
The Doomsday Scenario
This is hard to swallow, but it is the way ultimately I think the Rockies should go. Jeff Bridich could find it within the best interest of the team to get what they can out of these players and add to a bottom 20 farm system to stock up for the future. Would it mean that we would be a bottom feeding team for 3 years? Probably, but I think it would be better to be at the bottom with hope for a future than being stuck in mediocrity with no hope of going over the top.
It would be a tough pill to swallow saying goodbye to these wonderful players, but let’s face it, the team as it stands right now is not going to catch the Dodgers, the surgent Padres, or the promising Giants. Nolan is already upset (and he has every right to be) about how the front office has handled these past few seasons, and with him being a once in a generational talent, and maybe when his career is all said and done the best 3B to ever do it, it makes sense to put him in a place where he has a legitimate chance to win. Story, arguably the best SS right now, deserves that same chance as well.
The Hail Mary!
This would be a fun one, but not one I think the Rockies’ front office has the gonads for. With all the expiring contracts, the Rockies sign a bunch of free agents trying to make a last ditch effort at a postseason run. We could see the Rockies bring in players like Yasiel Puig, a couple of relievers such as Brad Hand, or Kirby Yates, or maybe a Liam Hendriks. However, with the Rockies’ latest failed experiment it is hard to envision marquee free agents pitchers wanting to come and conquer the Coors Field monster.
In the event that this scenario is successful, we could see Nolan Arenado opt-in to the rest of the five years of his contract. We would pick up Charlie Blackmon’s option(s). We would need to maneuver some contracts, but we would make an attempt to lock up Trevor Story. However, with the way this is going, it is hard to see the Rockies going this way.
“This Is Fine!”
With how they were last year, doing Minor League contracts only, and how it is looking this year (actually making the team worse off-loading Tony Wolters and David Dahl), this is the most likely scenario that the Rockies will take. Much like last year, Jeff Bridich and Co. will insist that the team is just fine with where it is at (even though it clearly is not!) and we will end up having yet another 71-91, 4th place NL West type season.
In this scenario, at season’s end, we could see Nolan Arenado opting out of his contract electing to play somewhere else (probably to his hometown Dodgers). Trevor Story walks out not wanting to play for a horribly run franchise, and Charlie Blackmon forces the Rockies to decline his option so that he can also go somewhere else (probably to the AL where there is a DH). This would leave the Rockies with all of their talent already called up, they would still have a bottom 20 farm system, and they would receive absolutely nothing for all the star power that they had. Think of the absolute worst franchise that everyone makes fun of, the Jets or the Browns before this season for example, the Rockies would be on that level. They would have to build through the draft and through free agency (which at that point players would come to Coors Field to stat pad and leave). This is the scenario that we must do everything to avoid, and if Bridich keeps up his pace that is where we will be.