Rockies Should Buy Low, If at All, in Free Agency


Big name free agents don’t come to Colorado. Whether it’s the unappealing lifestyle, school systems, or the grey landscapes, the only way to attract free agents to the Rockies is by vastly overpaying them (see Denny Neagle, Mike Hampton) and we know how well that worked.

Recent strategy has featured veterans filling the gaps. They’re signed to eat up innings or mentor a young pitching staff, not to help with a contention run. Why? There hasn’t been a contention window to go for in the last 5 years.  The Rockies front offices of the past have never fully committed to succeed over the long-term, whether that’s through development or the free agent/trade market. The Mets, Royals, and Astros are teams that succeed through development while the Yankees and Blue Jays have succeeded mostly through acquisitions. Denver isn’t a big enough market to spend frivolously on top-tier talent. The only way to succeed is through development and picking out the young, talented, and bargain-priced free agents.

Live Feed

Giants latest move might take them out of Carlos Rodon chase
Giants latest move might take them out of Carlos Rodon chase /


  • Dansby Swanson market heats up with multiple surprise teams in the huntFanSided
  • MLB Power Rankings: 5 major changes thanks to free agency and tradesFanSided
  • Twins act fast to sign Christian Vazquez with catcher market drying upFanSided
  • Chris Bassitt contract details: Blue Jays fill out rotation in the best wayFanSided
  • MLB rumors: Dansby Swanson could make Braves worst nightmare a realityFanSided
  • Development is the key. Every Rockies fan will agree on that. History tells us that the Rockies have been historically bad at developing consistent talent. Generation R – the group that included Matt Holliday, Garrett Atkins, Jeff Francis and the illustrious Chin-Hui Tsao – is the best group of young talent that’s been produced by the farm system and only Holliday has seen sustained success.

    Luckily, the Rockies have their deepest and most talented system in history. In 2016, we’re bound to see some long-awaited debuts; Jeff Hoffman, Kyle Freeland, David Dahl, and Trevor Story are all possibilities. The biggest mistake the Rockies can make is to block these young guys with bad veteran signings that last beyond 2016. For example, if the Rockies sign another Boone Logan-type contract – three years to an older guy coming off an injury – and block a young talented arm like Carlos Estevez from a major league spot.

    More from Rox Pile

    The Kyle Kendrick signing was actually a decent one, despite being a terrible fit. The contract is what I liked about it. Again, the contract, not the actual signing. It was short, it wasn’t going to limit the chance to give young guns a chance, and the team could easily move on if the player was a bust. He was awful and now he’s gone.

    The problem with the Kendrick signing is that it was Kendrick. He was a 4/5 starter for a pretty average Philadelphia team who gave up too many home runs for a sinkerballer. Why not give that contract you a younger guy on the market who will have some upside? The Jason Guthrie experiments don’t work.

    Another mistake would be to give Johan Santana another chance. Why give his roster spot to an aging player when a younger guy could get the valuable experience?

    The Rockies need to find the diamonds in the rough to succeed in free agency. In order to do that, they need to follow these three requirements.

    1. The player needs to be under 30.
    2. The player needs to be considered a top prospect in an organization.
    3. The player needs to be looking for a “prove-it” contract; a one-year contract.

    Guys that fit these parameters; Domonic Brown, Kyle Blanks, Brandon Beachy, Mat Latos.

    These parameters lay out a foolproof* plan for a small-market organization like the Rockies to execute during the free agency period. Look for young, down-on-their-luck talent that’s looking to prove themselves, but keep the contracts short. Acquiring guys like Branden Barnes is the right step; he lost his prospect appeal with the Astros so the Rockies took a chance on him (he was traded to the Rockies, but still). Barnes has been a consistent piece in the Rockies arsenal. He’ll hustle and bring energy where he lacks in skill, but he was given a shot, and that’s what matters.

    Taking chances will pay off eventually, just don’t be gun-shy. Take a chance on a young guy or don’t, that’s fine too. Just don’t spend on veterans that will block the progression and evolution of the young talent that will be the cornerstones of the organization.

    To follow this year’s free agency, go to MLB Trade Rumors free agent tracker.

    *Players that fit these credentials don’t usually exist in today’s free agent market. That’s kind of the point.