Rockies should make minor moves at deadline
Sitting at 49-52 just five days away from the 2015 Major League Baseball trade deadline, the Colorado Rockies are in a precarious spot this season.
Clearly a ways away from competing for the National League West division title at 10 games back, a spot in the National League wild card game at 6 games back and sitting at a 0.9 percent chance at a playoff berth, per Baseball Prospectus, the Rockies have quite a few trade chips that could fetch quite a bit in return on the trade market.
Starting with right fielder Carlos Gonzalez, the Rockies could get a king’s ransom in return for the All-Star outfielder hitting .317 with 20 homers and 62 runs batted in through 96 games played.
Should the Rockies feel inclined to put him on the market, one would assume that he’d command at least two top pitching prospects and a handful of other solid mid-level prospects to complete the deal, much like what the Rockies commanded from the Toronto Blue Jays last July in the Troy Tulowitzki deal.
While Jeff Hoffman, Miguel Castro and Jesus Tinoco are all fine prospects and should one day make a big impact for the pitching-starved Rockies, the fledging franchise would be wise to hold on to its star assets, starting with CarGo.
Sure, his name has surfaced on the trade rumor windmill, especially with the call-up of top outfield prospect David Dahl earlier this week, but that doesn’t mean the Rockies are going to sell high on one of their biggest stars outside of third baseman Nolan Arenado just because they have very little chance of making the playoffs at this point in the year.
No, what the Rockies should do is consider moving fan-favorite Charlie Blackmon, who would command a high value on the market and is reportedly the top target for the Washington Nationals, who are desperate for a great lead-off hitter and top defender in center.
Although the Rockies wouldn’t be able to pry away Washington’s top pitching prospect in Lucas Giolito, Colorado could potentially acquire a pitcher like Joe Ross (7-4, 3.49 ERA, 79 K’s) from the Nationals, along with a mid-level prospect like 1B/3B Matt Skole or catching prospect Spencer Kieboom, both of whom are close to reaching the majors.
Neither prospect would blow the doors off of anyone, but both are solid and would provide depth and upside in the Rockies’ system.
When looking at the Rockies’ system, there’s plenty of hope on the horizon with shortstop Brendan Rogers, catcher Tom Murphy, outfielder Ramiel Tapia, Hoffman and Dahl all close to the big leagues, so a small market team (in baseball terms) like the Rockies would be wise to continue to build a strong foundation.
That all starts with hanging onto stars like Cargo, Arenado and rookie sensation Trevor Story, who looks like a lock to win the NL Rookie of the Year award.
If the Rockies do decide to move some pieces to contenders, Blackmon should be at the top of the list. By moving Blackmon, not only do you open up an everyday spot for Dahl to prove himself at the big-league level, but you could also acquire a big-league pitcher like Ross to help right away. Granted, that’s a hypothetical return and one that is sort of realistic.
Blackmon isn’t some cheap castoff, not when he’s playing Gold Glove-caliber defense in center and has a slash line of .299/.358/.462. That’s some great production as a table setter at the top of the lineup for any contender looking for an upgrade.
Along with Blackmon, the Rockies could explore moving a veteran corner infielder such as Matt Reynolds to a contender looking for a big bat off the bench with playoff experience, as well as guys like outfielder Ryan Raburn and lefty reliever Boone Logan.
The returns on those three certainly wouldn’t be significant or franchise-altering, but for a team that likely isn’t going to make the playoffs it would bode well for them to sell off veteran pieces that don’t have long-term outlooks with the franchise for whatever they can get in return.
Unlike last year’s blockbuster trade of Tulowitzki, this year’s deadline should be relatively minor for the Rockies. A few more good years of smart moves, good drafting and patience should have the Rockies returning to the playoffs. With a great young core centered around stud pitchers Jon Gray, Tyler Chatwood and Tyler Anderson, along with Arenado, Gonzalez and Story, Colorado might finally have another Rockies group to be proud of.
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