With recent rumors that the Rockies might be in the running for Ervin Santana, some fans were looking forward to a big signing in the coming days. Santana is one of the top free agents left, but for now, Rockie fans will have to settle for shortstop Paul Janish. This morning, the Rockies signed Janish to a minor league deal, and Janish will have a chance to make the big league roster with a good spring training. This signing is under-the-radar, but it makes a lot of sense for the Rockies. Paul Janish won’t make any headlines, but he does profile as an above-average defensive player. In 2403 career innings at shortstop, Janish has saved 23 runs according to Defensive Runs Saved, which illustrates his proficiency. He also has a +10.1 UZR/150 (ultimate zone rating). There is a downside to Janish, though: he can’t hit. Janish’s career OPS is a measly .572, and his career average is just .214. So we shouldn’t expect Janish to be in the lineup any time soon. It did make sense for the Rockies to sign him, though, for one reason: Troy Tulowitzki. And by that I mean Tulowitzki’s injury problems. Every year, Tulowitzki gets hurt. He’s played more than 130 games just three times in his eight year career, and has never played more than 155. So it makes sense for Colorado to add Paul Janish as depth.
Paul Janish will probably start the year in the minor leagues. But in baseball injuries are an inevitability, and Janish has the advantage of being able to play second base, third base, and shortstop. When Troy Tulowitzki or Josh Rutledge or Nolan Arenado gets hurt, Janish will be there to help as a defensive replacement and occasional starter. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have an extra veteran presence in the dugout. So the Rockies got middle infield depth, a defensive stalwart, and a veteran presence all for the price of a minor league contract. It’s not a big signing, but it could prove valuable.