Colorado Rockies: Where they stand at first base and where they could go
By Ryan Ladika
The Colorado Rockies made an early splash in free agency, signing Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw during the Winter Meetings and Wade Davis shortly after to shore up the back end of the bullpen, but have stayed relatively quiet since. Despite Rockies GM Jeff Bridich making noise in the free agent market, though, there is still uncertainty that surrounds the first base situation.
Bridich did an exceptional job this offseason coming up with a plan to replenish a Rockies bullpen gutted by free agency and following through with that plan. As we stand, though, it would behoove the Rockies to be thinking about a more permanent option at first base than an Ian Desmond/Ryan McMahon platoon.
Desmond had a tough first year in a Rockies uniform. Due to injury, he played in only 95 games and spend most of his time in left field, mostly because of a career season from Mark Reynolds in which he barely missed his first career All-Star selection. McMahon was a late-season call-up from Triple-A Albuquerque and saw limited time on the field during Colorado’s push for the Wild Card, playing in only 17 games.
More from Rox Pile
- A Colorado Rockies Thanksgiving
- Colorado Rockies: What if Todd Helton had played football instead?
- Colorado Rockies: Charlie Blackmon out for the season
- Colorado Rockies: Injuries shift look of roster ahead of Dodgers series
- Colorado Rockies: Has Sean Bouchard earned a second look in 2023?
During last season Desmond showed that he still needs some work at the position in order to cement himself as the club’s everyday first baseman. The problem with the McMahon situation is the fact that Rockies manager Bud Black couldn’t give him significant playing time during the last month of the season, so there is an element of uncertainty that would come with him making the Opening Day roster. This leaves Colorado in a bit of a pickle looking ahead to 2018.
Reynolds is still on the free agent market, as is veteran Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, and Rockies beat reporter Thomas Harding reported that the club is exploring their options regarding the two. Harding also included an interesting name in his tweet: Todd Frazier.
Frazier is an interesting, and possibly lucrative, option for the Rockies to pursue at first base. He has always been a low-average, high-power type of hitter. Last season between the White Sox and the Yankees, Frazier hit .213/.344/.428 with a .772 OPS. He hit 27 home runs and drove in 76 runs, and was worth 3.4 WAR.
Moving to a park with a much more spacious outfield than Yankee Stadium could be beneficial to Frazier, and having played at third base for most of his career, he has valuable experience as a corner infielder. He has also logged 740.1 innings in 94 games at first base in his career, and has a career .988 fielding percentage at the position.
Reynolds would probably be a fine option for the Rockies, but he significantly regressed at the plate during the second half of the 2017 season, slashing .284/.379/.513 before the All-Star Break and .243/.314/.449 after the break.
Next: How DJ LeMahieu could be pushed out of Colorado before the 2019 season
Frazier is probably the best option for the Rockies to pursue at this point. He is 31 years old, three years younger than Reynolds, and would probably come with a lower risk of such regression, as well as valuable experience at first base that Desmond just doesn’t have.
Whichever direction the Rockies choose to go, sticking with a Desmond/McMahon platoon is a risky move for a club expected to contend for a playoff spot for the second year in a row.