Colorado Rockies: Ian Desmond might not play first base in 2019
By Luke Mullins
The Colorado Rockies have a lot of decisions to make this offseason. In a recent conference call with reporters, General Manager Jeff Bridich hinted at some of those decisions.
Among other comments, Bridich left room for the possibility that someone other than current first baseman Ian Desmond could man the position. This kind of move could have multiple motivators. Obviously, the Colorado Rockies would like to get a lot more production from first base than Desmond’s 83 OPS+ in 2018, but they also know that, at times, Desmond has shown he can be a contributor if he stays consistent.
Another factor in a potential position change is Desmond’s versatility. The Rockies could easily slide him into, say, left field, and make room for a bigger impact bat at first base. But a decision is far from made and Bridich seems to be keeping his options open.
"“We’re not sure right now, I mean that’s one of the nice things about, ya know, what Desi kinda brings to a team,” Bridich said."
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Bridich told reporters he’d talk to Desmond about it this offseason. The Rockies’ GM said he appreciates the ability having a player like Desmond gives him to to try to address this kind of situation while trying to build a roster.
"“It’s nice to have that ability to be flexible because, especially now, a lot of teams have an open mind and try to be creative on how to best put together a team,” Bridich said."
That flexibility could open the Rockies up to markets most people would have excluded them from and could benefit them on offense and defense. While a position change is far from certain, Bridich definitely recognized that it could happen.
"“I’d say its at least in the realm of possibility that Desi would play somewhere else other than first base,” Bridich said."
Of course, if Desmond does move to the outfield, that raises the question of who the Rockies would put at first base. The most obvious choice is Ryan McMahon, who came up with some big hits last year when given brief a shot at regular playing time.
Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt‘s future with his current team is uncertain but it would take a lot for the Rockies to land him and they typically don’t make moves that big. Another option would be Daniel Murphy, whose played most of his career at second base but does have 214 career games as a first baseman. Murphy had a dip in production last season but was great in 2016 and 2017.
The only reason I even mention Murphy is because the first base market is so thin. The top free agent at the position is probably Steve Pearce and, despite his World Series heroics, he’s no superstar. And it looks like the White Sox are going to ask more for Jose Abreu than he’s worth.
Marwin Gonzalez‘s name has been floated around as an option for the Rockies, but he’d be a gamble. Gonzalez had one great season among a lot of mediocre seasons but he’s versatile, brings playoff experience, and has some power. Sound like anyone you know? I’m afraid Gonzalez would be Ian Desmond 2.0.
All eyes will be on the Rockies now to see what Bridich decides to do. All we know at this moment is Desmond might not play first base in 2019, and that could open up several roster possibilities.