Colorado Rockies: It’s time to play the Raimel Tapia trade chip

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 01: Raimel Tapia #7 of the Colorado Rockies stands in the dugout during a regular season MLB game between the Colorado Rockies and the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers at Coors Field on October 1, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Russell Lansford/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 01: Raimel Tapia #7 of the Colorado Rockies stands in the dugout during a regular season MLB game between the Colorado Rockies and the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers at Coors Field on October 1, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Russell Lansford/Getty Images) /
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The Colorado Rockies are in a position this offseason to pull off some trades that can make the team a serious contender to reach the World Series. However, in order to do that, the Rockies will have to give up some young players in order to fill holes at catcher, first base and/or the corner outfield spots.

This morning, in an article on MLB.com listing the top trade chips for each team, Raimel Tapia was listed as the biggest trade chip the Colorado Rockies have this offseason. It’s not a surprise and it’s a sentiment that we have echoed for quite some time. Last offseason, in the FanSided Faux Winter Meetings, we traded Tapia to the Seattle Mariners for a reliever. Prior to this year’s trade deadline, we talked in this article about how Tapia’s big pinch-hit grand slam in Arizona made him an even more valuable trade chip that Colorado GM Jeff Bridich could use at last season’s trade deadline. Spoiler alert: It didn’t happen.

Look, it’s not that I don’t like Tapia. I do. I love the passion and speed he brings to the game. But it’s time to look at the reality of the situation.

In three seasons of bouncing between the minor leagues and Denver, the 24-year-old Tapia has just 223 at-bats. That includes just 25 at-bats in 2018. Last season, it was obvious that David Dahl zipped past him on the Colorado depth chart. The same with outfielder Noel Cuevas, who earned 146 at-bats last season alone. Fellow outfielder Mike Tauchman even had 32 at-bats last year. Matt Holliday got 53 at-bats in his limited return. It was also obvious that, while Tapia showed flashes of brilliance, there were also critical mistakes and defensive inefficiencies that cost him the confidence of Colorado’s coaching staff.

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Many will point to the fact that Tapia never had a consistent chance to show his skills and improve them at the Major League level. I won’t argue with that. However, do the Rockies have the confidence to keep Tapia on the 25-man roster this season? He is out of options so he can’t be sent back to the minors to work on his skills. If the Rockies keep him, he will have to be used on a regular basis by Bud Black … and that isn’t something we have seen at all in Black’s two years as the Colorado skipper.

If the Rockies have a chance to pull a trade for J.T. Realmuto and Tapia could be part of that package, Colorado would be silly to not make it happen. Honestly, if the Rockies have a chance to pull off any trade using Tapia and that trade would bring a proven player into Denver, they have to make that trade.

Bridich has already alluded to the fact that Ian Desmond may not play as much first base this season as he has in his first two years in Colorado. With that in mind, an outfield featuring Dahl, Desmond and Charlie Blackmon is a real possibility. Yes, without Gerardo Parra and Carlos Gonzalez, the Colorado outfield depth is thin at this moment … but don’t be surprised if a veteran isn’t brought in this offseason to shore that up.

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Tapia likely has a bright future in the Majors … but it likely isn’t in Colorado. Out of options and buried on the Rockies depth chart, a trade would not only give him a fresh start but could also likely land Colorado a key piece to winning the National League West. It’s time to make that happen.

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