Trade Candidate: Jorge De La Rosa

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Jul 23, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies pitcher Jorge De La Rosa (29) delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Coors Field.Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

As the season begins, we are profiling some potential trade candidates the Rockies may be able to move this summer in return for younger players. Today’s focus: Jorge De La Rosa.

Jorge De La Rosa is the de facto ace of the Rockies staff, compiling a dominant home record and a 12.3 WAR value from his time in Colorado alone.

However, he’s an expensive and aging asset (he turns 34 today, in fact), and the Rockies may be better off moving him either this season or next, rather than lose him for nothing after 2016.

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The contract. De La Rosa is on a two-year deal that was signed during the season last year; he’ll make $25 million over the life of the deal, which runs out at the end of the 2016 season.

That makes him one of the Rockies highest-paid players, and while $12.5 million per year isn’t that large relative to most number one pitchers across the big leagues, De La Rosa represents a significant chunk of the Rockies’ payroll this season and next.

The history. De La Rosa has been involved in quite a few transactions before, including a late July trade in 2006 that sent him from the Brewers to the Royals.

In ten starts after the trade, for the Royals, De La Rosa was 3-4 with a 5.18 ERA and 1.664 WHIP across 48.2 innings, though this was well before he would establish his career with the Rockies.

In late April, 2008, De La Rosa was traded from the Royals to the Rockies as the player to be named later to complete the Royals’ acquisition of relief pitcher Ramon Ramirez.

The tenure. De La Rosa has been a revelation in Denver, despite missing part of 2011 and most of 2012 recovering from Tommy John surgery. He has had four double-digit win seasons with the Rockies, and holds a 69-45 all-time record with the Rockies.

He’s not Cy Young, but as far as the Rockies are concerned recently, De La Rosa is the ace of the staff and the club is counting on him for big innings this season and next.

The angle. De La Rosa, now 34, isn’t getting any younger, and he’s had injury concerns. He’s no workhorse, either, throwing only 184.1 innings across 32 starts last season (about 5.2 innings pitched per start, which is right around the league average). He’s also making a lot of money, which could scare some teams away.

But, for a contender seeking another starting pitcher (and Lord knows they all will come June and July!), De La Rosa could represent an option for a trade. If a team grabs him this year, they’ve got another season of control in addition to the rest of the playoff push. If a team grabs him in 2016, he’s a rent-a-player for a few months.

Either way, depending on the year De La Rosa is having and how the Rockies are doing, it might be worth it to sell De La Rosa to a contender and get something of value in return. He’s not getting younger, and his value will wane as time goes on; the right offer ought to make them move De La Rosa this summer.

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The replacement.

Well, the Rockies have some exciting arms coming quickly in Jon Gray and Eddie Butler (and Tyler Anderson, who is slightly further away).

In addition, young arms already populate the rotation, in Tyler Matzek, Christian Bergman, and Jordan Lyles.

These guys aren’t world beaters, though Gray and Butler could hopefully become that, but they do represent the future of the Rockies’ staff, where hanging on too long to De La Rosa will increasingly represent the past.

Jorge De La Rosa has arguably been the greatest pitcher in Rockies history, but even then, the team will need to move on at some point. At least, with a trade, they’ll get something in return.

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