Colorado Rockies won the deadline by not mortgaging the future
By Kevin Henry
The Colorado Rockies made their two big splashes well before Major League Baseball’s trading deadline clock struck its own version of midnight at 2 p.m. Mountain time on Monday. With Pat Neshek in the bullpen and Jonathan Lucroy behind the plate, the Rockies strengthened their 25-man roster in two noticeable ways.
However, the trade deadline isn’t just about getting to October. It’s about making noise in the postseason as well. And that’s where some analysis of the rest of the trade deadline comes into play.
Barring a shocking collapse in the National League West, the Rockies are looking at a best-case scenario of hosting the Wild Card at Coors Field. Should they win that one-game playoff, the Rockies would face the top seed in the National League in the NLDS. That, at the moment, looks like it will be the Los Angeles Dodgers.
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The Dodgers seemed to be missing on their top targets for the majority of Trade Deadline Monday. However, a last-second deal to land Yu Darvish from the Texas Rangers pushed the Dodgers straight into the trade deadline winner’s circle. The Dodgers will more than likely have not only the National League’s top postseason seed, but also three playoff starters in Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood and Darvish. That’s a tough trio for any team, including the Rockies in the NLDS.
With deep pockets and a strong farm system, it was going to be shocking if the Dodgers didn’t land Darvish or Sonny Gray before the deadline. When the New York Yankees worked a deal with the Oakland A’s for Gray, all eyes turned to deep in the heart of Texas.
Yes, the Los Angeles Dodgers got stronger … and so did the Arizona Diamondbacks. J.D. Martinez is already paying dividends in the desert and David Hernandez could well bring some more stability to their bullpen.
By the way, the Chicago Cubs got stronger with Alex Avila and Jose Quintana. The Washington Nationals bolstered their bullpen with Brandon Kintzler (who was reportedly on Colorado’s radar). Of the five National League teams who would make the playoffs today if the season ended on August 1, all five improved themselves through trading. Not a shocker but definitely worth noting as the season grinds along.
So what does this mean for the Rockies? It means that, if they can hold to form over the next two months, they’ll be in the postseason for the first time since 2009. Once you’re in the postseason, every team has a chance to reach the World Series. Sure, some are better than others, but there is always a chance.
And that’s what the Rockies want this season. A chance to make the postseason, cause some trouble and set the bar for 2018 and beyond. As Baseball America said in this article, “Years of smart drafting and astute trades have begun to pay off for the Rockies at the big league level, and more talent is on the way.”
You see, what makes the Rockies winners at the 2017 trade deadline is the fact that they didn’t lose any top prospects to strengthen their current team, which has a 75.9 percent chance to make the 2017 postseason according to FanGraphs (as of Monday afternoon). Riley Pint, Ryan McMahon, Brendan Rodgers, Yency Almonte and every other big-name prospect is still there. So is Raimel Tapia, David Dahl and any other Rockies player who has seen time in the big leagues.
Did the Rockies win this year’s trade deadline? No, but would you really want to see the Rockies give up top prospects for a partial season of anyone traded today or over the last week? I wouldn’t.
Lucroy and Neshek help the Rockies solidify their chances at the 2017 postseason. With the Dodgers running away with the division, that’s the best that could be hoped for this season.
Next: How trades can still happen in August and September
With that in mind, Colorado not only won this year at the trade deadline but at the season opener for 2018 as well. I will take that as August dawns in Denver and the New York Mets prepare to open a three-game series with the Rockies at Coors Field.