It’s Time For The Rockies To Rebuild

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In the wake of Michael Cuddyer signing with the New York Mets, and the team willing to listen to offers on both Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, this might finally be the year the Rockies rebuild.

The Colorado Rockies have talented players. They have a fan base that fills seats, even though their team hasn’t had a winning season since 2010. They have two superstars in Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez who, when healthy, are as dynamic of a duo in the middle of the lineup as there is in the game. But the bottom line is the Rockies don’t win and last season they lost too many games they should have won.

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Something has got to give in Denver and this offseason is the time to shake things up.

When Michael Cuddyer turned down the Rockies’ qualifying offer and opted to sign a two-year deal with the New York Mets earlier this week, it was the first step in the right direction for a franchise that is notorious for making questionable moves.

While Cuddyer was a good offensive player, a fan-favorite and good veteran clubhouse guy, he is 35-years old, a liability in the field, injury prone, and had he accepted the qualifying offer, would have taken up a $15 million chunk of the team’s payroll.

In exchange for Cuddyer landing with the Mets, the Rockies receive a compensatory pick between the first and second round in next year’s draft. Coming off a 96-loss season, the team has a good opportunity to add quality depth to the farm system.

Last week, when Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported that the Rockies were willing to listen to offers for both Tulowitzki and Gonzalez, it was the first time that ownership has openly entertained the possibility of dealing the previously untouchable superstars. This is something they wouldn’t do unless they thought there was a decent chance they will deal one or both of them.

While I do see the Rockies making some big moves this winter, trading Tulowitzki isn’t one of them.

Over the last five seasons, Tulo has averaged 106 games per year, or about 65% of the Rockies’ games. The 30-year-old is owed $20 million per year over the next five seasons, $14 million in 2020, with a $15 million option or $4 million buyout in 2021. It’s a risk too expensive for most teams to take but a realistic one for potential suitors like the Yankees or Red Sox, who have the financial resources to wager.

But do those teams have enough talent to give in return? Historically, trades involving marquee players like Tulowitzki don’t yield a fair return and are more about getting the money off the books. So are the Rockies prepared to give up their franchise player for a handful of young prospects to get rid of his contract? Maybe someday, but not right now.

Gonzalez is more likely to get dealt. His contract is easier to move, he has a healthier past, and his spot in the outfield would be more easily filled with Corey Dickerson and Drew Stubbs both due more playing time next season.

Something has got to give in Denver and this offseason is the time to shake things up.

Given that this free agent class that is so pitching-heavy, Gonzalez’s market value will be especially high and teams will more likely part ways with talented players in the offseason. While waiting until Gonzalez shows that he can stay on the field before trading him might be the safer move, right now is the time.

Obviously, ownership won’t move either player unless they hear a deal that blows them away. With two immensely talented players to offer, the Rockies should get a fair amount of talent in return and ideally it would be pitching talent.

With an offense wielding more than enough firepower, the Rockies can afford to trade one of their big bats for some much-needed pitching help. And with quality free agent pitchers so hard to land, given that half of their starts would be made at Coors Field, trading Gonzalez or Tulowitzki might be the only way to do it. Be it via free agency or on the trade market, but as the offseason begins to unfold, it seems clear that the Rockies front office will make a big splash sooner than later.

In a perfect world, the Rockies deal Gonzalez for a good starting pitcher, a reliable reliever and a formidable bat. They keep Tulowitzki as their cornerstone, shop for more pitching on the free agent market, and continue to develop young talent in the farm system.

If the culture is going to change in Colorado, the organization is going to have to change the way they think. For too long now, the front office has lacked the ability to make the tough decisions. Decisions that might not pay off right away, but will give the team a chance to build a winner down the road. Rock bottom is a good place to wipe the slate clean and start over and the Rockies are as close to rock bottom as you can get.

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