For the last number of years, the Colorado Rockies have cycled through the same team needs from one off-season to the next: the back of the rotation, the bullpen, and a right handed power bat. With an offense that struggled to score in 2013, at times even at home at Coors Field, and with a vacancy created by the retirement of Todd Helton, we have worked our way back to needing a right handed bat. Ideally the candidate to fill that spot would either be a corner outfielder or a first baseman.
The Rockies last faced this situation two years ago when they signed Michael Cuddyer. With the option of moving Cuddy to first, the team can eye now outfielders either as free agents or in the form of a trade. Troy Renck of the Denver Post offers the following suggestion for a trade target:
Here’s a name to file away given the need, the fit, and the Rockies’ success in trading with Oakland in years past: Yoenis Cespedes.
ESPN’s Buster Olney wrote that he expects Oakland to be proactive in seeking a trade this winter for Cespedes. He has two years and $21.5 million remaining on his contract. He misses chunks of games, but the Rockies have some depth with Charlie Blackmon and Corey Dickerson around. Cespedes brings power, belting 104 extra-base hits in his first two big-league seasons. The Rockies would have to part with top prospects, and, in my opinion, pitching and second baseman Josh Rutledge would be a good starting point.
Cespedes has two years left on his current deal totaling a little more than $20 million. Like every team in baseball, the Rockies have more money coming in and so they could absorb that cost without much trouble. For the season Cespedes posted a somewhat disappointing .240/.294/.442 line with a solid 26 home runs and 80 RBI. That decline in average might provide a little explanation as to why the A’s would be motivated to be ‘proactive’ in trading the 27-year-old outfielder, even if he is mashing so far in the 2013 playoffs.
If Cespedes played for the Rockies, it is reasonable to think that his average would settle at a number somewhere north of .240 thanks to hitting in a lineup with Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki and playing half his games at Coors Field (where the uptick in home runs in overrated, but the uptick in average is underrated). And let’s face it, if he hit 26 home runs playing for the A’s, you can pencil him in for 25-30 pretty comfortably if he was on the Rockies.
Where would he fit in the lineup? Well, in Hayden’s dream lineup, it would go something like this:
That assumes that Walt Weiss agrees with the absolutely correct assertion that your best hitter should bat second, therefore giving him more at-bats. Tell me again why you wouldn’t want to create more at-bats per season for CarGo and Tulo? Anyhow, here’s a realistic projection of what the lineup would actually look like:
Dexter Fowler CF
DJ LeMahieu 2B
Carlos Gonzalez LF
Troy Tulowitzki SS
Michael Cuddyer 1B
Yoenis Cespedes RF
Wilin Rosario C
Nolan Arenado 3B
Even with his torrid play so far in the 2013 postseason, this might be the right time to take a chance on this kind of trade. If Renck is correct that a package would start with Josh Rutledge and pitching, the Rockies should do that without blinking. If the front office truly believes it is ready to win soon, this is the kind of gamble they should take. If they still will not part with young pitching, then it is reasonable to take that as a tacit resignation to the fact that they are still a few years away from anything, despite the claims of a certain owner in a letter to season ticket holders.
I’m not totally sure if I think the Rockies are in that position or not, but I would sure love to see what this lineup would look like if it was lengthened out with a guy like Cespedes.
One last thought: Cespedes, Fowler, and CarGo in the same outfield? Can you say #Swagger?