The Colorado Rockies could potentially be in position to make a big trade this off-season. The question is, do they have to in order to move on in any free agents of note?
Russell Martin signed with the Toronto Blue Jays for a whole bunch of money, and one thing was clear: the Rockies were never candidates for his services. They were interested, but that is likely the extent of their involvement before Martin got five years and $82 million.
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The Rockies were never in on him, but imagine for one second if they were. Imagine that Martin was eager for the chance to play half his games at Coors Field and that he was enthusiastic about craft breweries. There he was, expressing interest in the Rockies and asking for their best offer.
Would the team even have had the money to make a competitive offer? Or would their top-heavy payroll prevent them from doing so?
We don’t know for sure, and goodness knows that MLB front offices have ways of making these things work by back-loading deals and what not. But you get the feeling that the Rockies won’t be significant players in free agency unless they trade Carlos Gonzalez or Troy Tulowitzki. That jives with this note from Brian McTaggart of MLB.com in an NL West off-season roundup:
"Tulowitzki, Gonzalez and pitcher Jorge De La Rosa will occupy a huge chunk of the club’s payroll, so trades could affect how much money the Rockies spend. Tulowitzki and Gonzalez are huge assets, but also may be untradeable. Colorado would like to upgrade its pitching staff, which often comes at a high price. Starting pitching depth and quality are the concentration under the watch of Bridich."
Such as rumors have gone lately, any potential trade would likely involve Gonzalez and not Tulowitzki. The most likely scenario is that nobody will be traded, with this note simply reminding us that we should not expect a lot of action from the Rockies in free agency this winter.
Maybe that’s not a surprise either, but it’s still important for us to get a sense of what the line is for the Rockies. How limited would their spending in free agency be with no trade? Can they afford to make a run at a guy like Justin Masterson or an old friend like Brett Anderson? Or will they be left to go for scraps like Kevin Correia?
Even if the Rockies do not sign a big name, depth and pitching help come at their own costs. It will be interesting to see if the Rockies are handcuffed by a top-heavy payroll in the here and now and if they have a more pressing need to trade CarGo than we might have realized.