Rockies GM Jeff Bridich has played everything close to the chest. So close that we essentially only hear rumors that are (probably) unfounded about Rockies in potential trade talks. What we do know is that he’s listening on everyone. It’s a matter of price.
Evaluating trades after five months is idiotic, but I’m doing it anyway. The young arms in return for Tulo have looked fantastic in their short stints in the minors, forcing their way into the Rockies top 20 prospects, according to MLB.com.
Carlos Gonzalez had a hell of a second half in 2015. That we can all agree on. We can also agree that the Rockies need to be hard sellers through 2016 to make room and prepare for the arrival of young talent set to hit the big leagues over the next few years.
One last thing we can agree on; Carlos Gonzalez is a key part to the puzzle.
What I disagree with is that CarGo should be traded this offseason. Over the past two seasons, CarGo has produced a slash line of .260/.314/.505, a decent line for an average, power-hitting corner outfielder. The Rockies aren’t trying to sell him like an average outfielder; they’re looking for a superstar return and that’s not what other teams are seeing. The Rockies (and we, the fans) see him as All-Star CarGo returned to form; baseball sees him as reduced CarGo who got hot for half a season.
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In 78 of the 223 games Gonzalez has played in over two seasons, he produced 52.8 percent of his numbers. Essentially, it took him 75 games to produce the same qualitative numbers that he had over the other 150 games he had played. That’s what other teams see. That’s where CarGo’s value is and why the Rockies aren’t seeing the return they’re looking for.
If Bridich sticks to his plan and doesn’t sell for pennies on a dollar, his best bet is to wait until July to trade Gonzalez. Yes, this relies on CarGo having a solid second half, but other teams around baseball need more proof that CarGo is the player he showed from July to September.
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In reality, the market will be thinner at the trade deadline; the only big outfield names that will hit free agency in the next two years are Jose Bautista (34), Carlos Gomez (30), Matt Holliday (35) and Lorenzo Cain (29) and JD Martinez (28). Holliday, Cain and Martinez all come off the books in 2018 and only Holliday will hit free agency; it’d be a shock if Kansas City and Detroit didn’t extend Can and Martinez, respectfully, before they hit the free market. Out of Bautista, Gomez and Holliday, only Bautista has the same appeal as a full season of production from Gonzalez and he’s four years older.
I know it’s not the instant gratification we want from Bridich, who, actually, has done virtually nothing to assuage the anxiousness of Rockies fans, but it’s the smart play. The market will be thinner and a 150-game sample of productive CarGo is so much more valuable than 78 games of productive CarGo if the Rockies wait. It’s just on Gonzalez to produce early in 2016.
Check out Andrew Dill’s take on the Rockies offseason moves so far and what they mean for 2016. SPOILER ALERT: No one knows!