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With last week’s signing of outfielder Gerardo Parra to a three-year, $27.5 million deal, the Rockies now boast a two-time gold glover with a reputation for web gems, speediness, and grind-it-out at bats.
But for a team that’s habitually dwelled in and around the cellar of the National League West for the last five years—and for a team that hasn’t sniffed the postseason since 2009—the addition of a solid but unremarkable player like Parra will only move the club forward should the Rockies unload one of their other capable outfielders in exchange for some much-needed pitching.
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Obviously, perennial All-Star Carlos Gonzales has been the subject of the most trade scrutiny this offseason. Despite being injury-prone—and an offensive power outage during the first half of last season—Gonzales’ trade value is certainly the highest of any player on the roster, and dealing him with two years and $37 million left on his contract would open up some funds to be used on the ace Colorado desperately needs. (Although it may be next to impossible to attract an exceptional free agent pitcher without an impressive contract—something the Rockies leadership isn’t likely to spring for.)
Leftfielder Corey Dickerson (.304, 10 HR in 65 games last season) and centerfielder Charlie Blackmon (a career .288 hitter who slugged 17 dingers in 2015) would also fetch good value in the open market, though it would mean the Rockies would have to part ways with some of their best farm-grown products in recent memory. Using either one or both of these guys as trade bait wouldn’t enable the Rockies to land a top-tier pitcher, but it should get them a couple decent, veteran arms and/or valuable hurling prospects.
The Rockies have a potent lineup that, even in the wake of last season’s Troy Tulowitzki trade, can win them ballgames. But the team won’t be competitive as long as their pitching is as sorry as it was last season, when Colorado had the hands-down worst staff in all of baseball, and ranked last in team Earned Run Average (ERA), as well as opponent batting average and quality starts.
This is why trading CarGo makes the most sense, for the Rockies must deal their star in order to have a prayer of competing against the rest of the West. Several of their division foes have already made ambitious arm signings (Jeff Samardzija to the Giants, Zach Greinke and Shelby Miller to the Diamondbacks) while the Monforts sat on their thumbs and signed a guy who has zero home runs in 48 career games at Coors Field.
To sum up what fans have been saying all offseason as they watch the rest of the West get tougher—your move, Rockies.
Because should it come to be that the Rockies’ biggest play following the Parra signing is to delegate once-promising prospect Kyle Parker to the minors to make room on the roster—and should the Rockies ultimately decide to stand pat with a platoon system of four lefty outfielders—the entire signing would be utterly nonsensical, and, if the front office’s past behavior is any indication, completely expected.
Let’s just all hope general manager Jeff Bridich and the Rockies have a grander plan up their sleeve. If not, it’ll be another summer at Coors characterized by long top halves of innings and postseason chances snuffed out by early August.