Like many of you, I wanted the Colorado Rockies to make a big splash at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. I wanted to see the Rockies come through with a massive deal that would grab headlines and make the national media talk about baseball in the Mountain time zone a little more than the very small percentage of the time that they already do.
July 31 came and went, however, with the Colorado Rockies staying put. Well, not completely put. General manager Jeff Bridich did pull a deal to acquire reliever Seunghwan Oh from the Toronto Blue Jays … but that was it. Matt Holliday was also signed to a minor league deal during that time and certainly could pay big dividends for the Rockies … but he wasn’t part of a trade with any team.
The trade deadline activity wasn’t exactly the lightning in a bottle that many Rockies fans were hoping for as the team chased its first-ever National League West title. Many shook their fists at the sky as the Dodgers kept making deals to bring in Manny Machado, Brian Dozier and others. Arizona made its bullpen stronger with Brad Ziegler and Jake Diekman. Pittsburgh worked a trade to land Chris Archer.
The list of National League contenders seemingly getting stronger went on and on. The Rockies? Well, it was a quiet end of July in Denver.
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It is often said that hindsight is 20-20 and that certainly could be the case here. Heading into Wednesday’s play, the Rockies were just one game behind the Diamondbacks in the NL West standings and 1.5 games behind in the hunt for a Wild Card spot.
Since June 28, the Rockies have a 26-13 record. That’s the best mark in the National League. Part of the reason for Colorado’s success are young players like Ryan McMahon, David Dahl, Kyle Freeland, German Marquez and others that were detailed in this article.
Those are the types of young players that other teams have sacrificed in trades in the past (and this season). Bridich, meanwhile, has always kept his prospects close to his vest and rarely parted with them. The Rockies are now enjoying the fruits of that thought process now.
Is it splashy or sexy? No, but it’s working for the Rockies, who are playing solid baseball right now and are seemingly set up for success in the near future.
When it came time to fix Colorado’s struggling offense and bullpen, the front office doubled down and looked for those same in-house replacements. While risky (betting on the unknown at the Major League level), the payoff can be great and sustainable. Colorado’s problems aren’t fixed and Bud Black would tell you as much … but they have a plan. And, every time you look at the Ian Desmond contact and doubt that, every time the sky seemed to be falling over the last couple of years, the Rockies found a way.
Sure, the contract statuses of DJ LeMahieu following this season and Nolan Arenado after next season will dominate headlines and many discussions until they are resolved (one way or the other). However, with the players mentioned above plus Brendan Rodgers, Garrett Hampson, Yency Almonte and others, there is plenty of reason for optimism thanks to prospects who were kept rather than traded away.
Also, look at Colorado’s rotation, arguably the most successful group for the Rockies this season. Jon Gray, Freeland, Tyler Anderson, Antonio Senzatela and Chad Bettis all grew up in Colorado’s system while Marquez came over from Tampa Bay in the Corey Dickerson trade. These pitchers represent a solid future for the Rockies … and proof that young pitchers (or any pitcher, for that matter) can pitch at altitude.
Oh, by the way, has done his part, earning a save and a 2.08 ERA in 8.2 innings covering nine games. He’s been reliable … and the Rockies have the option to bring him back in 2019 at $2.5 million.
Renting a player to win a title is always a tricky proposition. Colorado chose not to do it in 2018. So far, the results are showing that sticking with a present and future that can be built around homegrown youth is worth it.
Will that continue as the season wears on? Time will tell.