The Colorado Rockies have a lot of options next season heading into next week’s Winter Meetings for who might play first base. However, Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post believes that the Rockies may be looking to go very young at the position to start the 2018 season.
During his Denver Post Lunch Special chat on Thursday, Saunders was asked about Mark Reynolds returning to the Rockies next season. While he believes that is a possibility, he also said that Reynolds might not be Colorado’s top choice to play the position. Instead, he said that he thinks Ryan McMahon is “penciled in at first.”
It is no secret that McMahon, who turns 23 next week, is believed to be the future for the Rockies at first base. However, it is a little surprising that the team might turn the position over to him so quickly, especially given that Colorado signed Ian Desmond to a five-year, $70 million contract last offseason with the expressed purpose of making him Colorado’s everyday first baseman.
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However, as we all know, that plan did not work out in 2017 … and it may go out the window for 2018 and beyond because of it. Desmond missed the start of the regular season with a broken hand and was slowed by leg injuries during the season, struggling to a .274 average with just seven homers and 40 RBI in 95 games. While Desmond was on the shelf, Reynolds, who was signed to a minor league contract before last season began, started the season red-hot and grabbed firm control of the position. Desmond played just 27 games at first last season while Reynolds saw action in 138 games at first.
Heading into this season, Reynolds is once again not signed and could well end up back with the Rockies on a one-year deal (if he isn’t signed by another team). Desmond could see a lot of time patrolling left field, with Gerardo Parra moving over to right to replace Carlos Gonzalez.
That opens the door for McMahon at first base. Called up for his Major League debut in mid-August, McMahon played in just 17 games for the Rockies last season, posting a .158 average with one RBI. He played seven games at first base, four games at second base and three games at third base, bringing that versatility to the lineup that the Rockies value highly.
In a possible scenario, McMahon could be Colorado’s Opening Day starter at first base with Reynolds or Desmond seeing time there as well. Desmond could focus on the outfield while McMahon grows into the position. There would certainly be some growing pains with this scenario. However, if McMahon grows into the role that many within the Rockies see him having for years to come, Colorado may finally solve the long-term problem it has had at first base since Todd Helton retired.