The building pressure of baseball’s coming trade deadline allowed Bud Black to explain the process. His Rockies have taken firm residence in the last place in the National League West, the kind of team that, presumably, would be sellers at the deadline and try to spin for the future. But hold on now.
“We’re fielding calls. We’ve got some players who are desirable,” Black said. “And I can’t speak to it, but I’ll give you some perspective. Team A might call on one of our players and their front office might say, ‘We like this guy.’ And our front office will say, ‘Well, yeah, he’s a good player, you should be on that player. What about so-and-so on your team?’ And they might say, ‘You’re on the right guy, too.’ That’s how it works. It’s not a one-way street.”
Ok, following you so far.
“But this happens a little bit, too,” the manager went on. “’Hey, you guys have a Range Rover. We’ll take your Range Rover and we’ll give you our Honda Accord.’ And teams expect you to do that. Why would we do that? ‘How could you not trade your Range Rover?’ Because we might try to keep our Range Rover! Rather than trade it for your Subaru!”
Through a telescope, the Rockies can see what they believe is a coming wave of promising prospects, mostly in the lowest levels but starting to trickle into Double A. At the same time, they spent $182 million to sign Kris Bryant to help them win now . Their future may be far off, but the Rockies continue to prepare for tomorrow.
Shortstop José Iglesias, it seems, could be a tradable player at the deadline. He is a contact hitter, better outside of Coors Field than in, and he plays reliable defense in the middle of the infield. And he is on an expiring one-year contract. The Red Sox acquired him in September last season and his spark from him helped them reach the postseason.
Could he be traded?
“I think this team needs me. I’m a big part of this team. So I don’t know,” Iglesias said. “I hope I’m not going anywhere. Even if someone needs me, they’ve got to wait for free agency. This team needs me now, and that’s why I’m here.”
Here are the three big what-ifs for the #rockies in the second half. And why we already know the answers… https://t.co/DmGtWQrpJ0
— Nick Groke (@nickgroke) July 23, 2022
A year ago, the Rockies were nowhere near contending for a postseason berth, but they at least possessed some leverage. Three desirable players — Trevor Story, Jon Gray and Daniel Bard — became the targets of contending teams looking for upgrades. Two of those players were on expiring contracts in Story and Gray, and Bard was still eligible for cost-certain arbitration. They were obvious trade candidates.
The Rockies traded none of them, insisting they were better off standing still. Their choice was not to trade a Range Rover for a Honda Accord. It was to take the Honda Accord or start walking. In the offseason, Story left for the Red Sox and Gray for the Rangers.
As a former MLB general manager explained about the trade deadline, “If you can’t close deals to improve your organization, you have failed at your job.”
Again firmly in last place this season, after a 13-0 blowout loss to the first-place Dodgers on Thursday, the Rockies have no good reason to believe this year affords them a better chance at reaching the postseason. Sell! Sell. Sell?
But over the past two weeks, the Rockies have positioned themselves somewhere outside the conversation. General manager Bill Schmidt reiterated a Rockies truism, that they do not engage in rebuilds, preferring instead to roll from one season to the next looking for a lightning bolt to spark a Rocktober run.
“People want us to trade guys,” Schmidt told The Gazette, “but the people they want us to trade are the guys who want to stay here.”
Right now, the Rockies’ most valuable players in any trade are their top prospects, specifically Double-A shortstop Ezequiel Tovar and High-A outfielder Zac Veen and catcher Drew Romo.
They are not eager to trade away the future. So excluding those prospects, here are the Rockies’ most valuable major-league trade chips, as estimated by Baseball Trade Values, an independent outlet that, in a similar way to most MLB front offices, determines a player value figure based on future projections, past performance, injury risk, contract details, surplus value and market scarcity.
1. 1B/OF Connor Joe
2. 2B Brendan Rodgers
3. LHP Austin Gomber
4. 1B/DH CJ Cron
5. 3B Ryan McMahon
None of them are likely to be traded. Schmidt has talked about Rodgers and McMahon being the pillars of Colorado’s lineup. They are always reluctant to part with controllable starting pitching, in this case Gomber. Joe has become a necessary utility defender and on-base machine who can fill the gaps around Bryant, Cron and Charlie Blackmon. And the Rockies don’t yet trust their coming first base prospects enough to jettison Cron.
More realistically, here are the Rockies’ most likely trade candidates, based on the current temperature of the deadline and, historically, the kind of trades contending teams look for at the deadline.
1. Setup man Alex Colome
2. SS Jose Iglesias
3. 1B/DH CJ Cron
4. RHP Chad Kuhl
5. Closer Daniel Bard
The Rockies, according to league sources, would like to re-sign Bard and Kuhl, hoarding as best they can any pitcher who doesn’t crumble at Coors Field. Bard is perhaps the best reliever among trade targets this week, but the Rockies will almost surely not trade him, according to sources. Bard and Kuhl are both on expiring contracts, though, and there’s no reason why the Rockies can’t trade them for two months and sign them this winter when they become free agents. Colomé has a closing experience, but while he pitched well in May and June, he has struggled through July.
Last summer, the Rockies traded only reliever Mychal Givens, to the Reds. They had far more trade leverage before that deadline than this one. If the Rockies pass through Tuesday’s deadline without contributing to the hot stove, would you be surprised?
“I’m aware of what’s going on,” Black said. “I’ve been kept up to speed on a regular basis. I’m never shocked by something.”
(Photo by Jose Iglesias: Isaiah J. Downing/USA Today)