The Colorado Rockies have gone into the All-Star break with a disappointing record of 40-48. With the trade deadline fast approaching on August 1, who are the best candidates which could be dealt?
I think we were all hoping as fans that the Colorado Rockies would have a better record at this point of the season. There is a lot of talent on the roster, especially on the batting side. But for various reasons, things haven’t come together.
The issues vary between the batting one night, and then the pitching the next. Then to make matters worse, both sides of the ball fail to show up in a game. When you throw in some dubious managerial decisions by Walt Weiss, you have the record you see tonight.
If the Rockies continue down this path over the next three weeks, it is most likely that general manager Jeff Bridich will be looking to sell in order to keep boosting the prospects pile within the organization.
Who are the most likely candidates to be dealt?
The Rockies have three primary players who could well be dealt by August 1, especially if they can find the right package to pull the trigger on the trade. Let’s take a look at these players in a little more detail, and the probability that the trade will happen.
This is becoming a yearly event for CarGo to be mentioned in being on the trade block. He is having a good year after getting off to a slow start. Indeed, his numbers today are very similar to his NL batting title year of 2010.
Gonzalez leads all the right fielders in the NL with a .318 batting average and 107 hits. He is tied for the lead in home runs (19, with Bryce Harper), and is third in RBIs with 54. He still has the big pop in his bat that is desirable for many MLB teams.
Gonzalez is under team control until the end of the 2017 season. Per spotrac.com, he is scheduled to make $17 million this season and $20 million next season. Though these numbers are a good chunk of change, they will not scare off a contender who will looking to add to their postseason run a 2016 All-Star that can bop a HR and field his position well above-average.
Another major benefit to an interested team is he would be under team control for two possible postseason runs. He would not be a “rental” for this year where he could simply sign with another team as a free agent and leave them in the dust.
MLB.com’s Thomas Harding mentioned a few days ago that a perfect trade partner for Gonzalez could be the Cleveland Indians (h/t Mile High Sports).
“Offensively I don’t think (the Indians) are quite a World-Series-winning team, but pitching wise they are, and that’s more important,” Harding said.
“There is all kinds of pitching depth there, you would like for them to get one more guy,” said Harding. “What would happen if, first of all, they gave up some form of really good pitching that could help the Rockies this year and next.”
Though the Indians would not be the only party interested, the Rockies are always looking for pitching. The team could easily bag two to three very good minor league arms in a Gonzalez trade.
But the main question remains: Will Bridich pull the plug on a very popular team player?
Probability of trade: Bridich will get a deal he likes from one of the postseason teams, and Gonzalez is dealt.
Hundley is the team’s No. 1 catcher, but there are games he doesn’t look like it. Just in the recent Phillies series, he made two glaring errors which resulted in runs. He threw a potential third base out well over the head of Arenado which led to a run, and he missed a pitch which went under his glove for a passed ball and another run.
Additionally, his pitch framing leaves a bit to be desired. There are borderline strike calls which are not called because of his lazy pitch framing.
Where he makes up for his defensive woes is his hitting. This season he is hitting .254 (just above his career average of .249), has a OBP of .358 (career average .304) and an OPS of .804 (career OPS .707).
So do the Rockies value his offense over his defensive shortcomings?
They have an excellent second catcher in Tony Wolters. He is a much better defensive catcher, where his pitch framing is outstanding. Per Fangraphs.com, Wolters field rating is a 0.5 (Hundley is -1.1) At 24, he is much more athletic than Hundley. However, where he lacks, and prevents him from being the No. 1, is his hitting.
Wolters this season has a .215 batting average, an OBP of .296 and an OPS of .627. All of these numbers are a decent gap below Hundley. Again, per FanGraphs, his bat rating is a -3.9, compared to Hundley’s -1.6.
However, with the trade deadline approaching, now is the time to make Wolters the No. 1 catcher and move Hundley onward. It is time to see what Wolters can achieve with more games and more plate appearances under his belt.
Hundley’s contract is only $3,150,000, which is not a large amount of money for a contender to absorb. There will always be a team looking for a experienced, decent-with-the-bat catcher, even as a backup.
Probability of trade: Hundley will be dealt.
At age 30, Blackmon is having a great year. He is well-above his career averages in hitting (.310 versus .292), OBP (.374 versus .342) and OPS (.868 versus .787). Per Fangraphs, his WAR is 0.8, which is tied for fourth-highest on the team, behind only Arenado, Gonzalez and Story (tied with LeMahieu).
Blackmon is a decent enough defensive outfielder, though his fielding rating is -2.8. More importantly, he gets to the flyballs he should get to.
Blackmon has 12 of the Rockies 14 leadoff HRs for 2016, which ranks 10th in MLB. The Rockies leadoff OBP is .343, which is 12th in MLB (remember Blackmon is higher at .374).
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He is doing a nice enough job in the leadoff spot to keep him in that role. The Rockies do not have another obvious guy to play leadoff, though LeMahieu or Cristhian Adames could play it in a pinch.
His salary is not an issue either, at just $3,500,000. A trade of Gonzalez would just free up the payroll a lot more, which would allow more signings in the outfield (if so desired).
Blackmon is too much of a valuable player to let go at the trade deadline, without an obvious replacement and his popularity with his teammates, it just doesn’t happen.