There will be a lot of talk throughout the Colorado Rockies fan base and media during the offseason about what personnel moves the team will make to once again reach the postseason in 2018. With Greg Holland reportedly testing the free agent market and Carlos Gonzalez potentially coming to the end of his time with the Rockies, there are plenty of personnel fronts in which the Rockies must fight and big decisions that must be made. However, I personally believe one of the biggest decisions for the Rockies will lie behind the plate this offseason.
When the Rockies acquired Jonathan Lucroy just before the trade deadline expired, it was a similar scenario to how Colorado signed Holland in the offseason. Colorado was taking a chance on a veteran to see how he would perform in LoDo. Holland was coming off Tommy John surgery and no one knew what he could or would bring to the Rockies. Lucroy was struggling with the Texas Rangers and many were questioning if he still had the offensive prowess that earned him All-Star honors with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Looking back, we know the answer to both those questions now. Holland made franchise history with 41 saves and has earned himself the right to a nice payday from the Rockies or another team this offseason. Lucroy, meanwhile, hit .310 with Colorado in 46 games after posting a .242 average in 77 games with Texas.
However, what Lucroy brought to the Rockies is more than just his hitting. His veteran presence was a boon to a young Colorado pitching staff and his postseason experience paid big dividends for the Rockies as they crept closer and closer to clinching the Wild Card spot.
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Those young pitchers who had such an impact on Colorado’s 2017 success will be right back on the mound for the Rockies in 2018. They built a solid relationship with Lucroy and bringing him back seems to be one of the most critical decisions the Rockies could make. Lucroy told Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post in September he was open to being a part of Colorado’s future.
"“But I’d absolutely (be interested) in coming back. As a free agent, you look at a lot of things. I look at things even more than money. I want to know what teams are going to be in there. I do not want to go to a team that’s just going to be average. I want to go to a team this is going to be good. I want to contribute to a playoff team.“Look, I’m a 31-year-old catcher, so I have to get going. I want a ring, or two, or three. And I think the opportunity is definitely here for that to happen.”"
Colorado manager Bud Black believes in Lucroy and talked many times about the importance of having veteran catchers Lucroy and Ryan Hanigan behind the plate. Yes, Colorado has young catching options in Tony Wolters and Tom Murphy. However, bringing Lucroy back to manage Colorado’s young pitchers and be the veteran presence in the clubhouse is key to the Rockies making that proverbial “next step” in 2018. Wolters and Murphy both took steps backward this season. Lucroy could not only help Colorado’s young pitchers continue to develop, but Colorado’s young catchers could learn a lot from the 31-year-old as well.
Lucroy brought a stability to the Rockies behind the plate in the last two-plus months of 2017. Bringing him back in 2018 and beyond would continue that needed stability.