With the Colorado Rockies stumbling out of contention right before the July 31 trade deadline, rumors have begun to swirl around the team–specifically in regards to a couple of bullpen veterans. And while it might be a good idea for the Rockies to see what they can get for Jake McGee, Bryan Shaw and maybe even Wade Davis, trading Scott Oberg is a terrible idea.
Oberg was recently included in a list of the seven players most likely to be traded in an article by MLB.com’s Richard Justice. To an outsider, the deal might make sense. Teams out of contention who happen to have high-quality bullpen arms often trade those arms for prospects to teams that are in the playoff race.
But this situation is unique. First of all, the Rockies believe they can compete next season and beyond, so even if they are “sellers” they likely won’t make an Oberg-sized deal. Oberg won’t be a free agent until 2022, making him a rare controllable, affordable, dominant reliever.
Oberg has long been viewed as the team’s potential future closer and with Davis’ future in question, it seems unlikely the Rockies would move him, especially since there isn’t really anyone in line behind Oberg who could fill that role.
Oberg himself is an unusual case. In a season where it seems no Colorado reliever has been able to get outs, Oberg has remained consistently dominant all season long. Everyone, from young arms to veteran relievers have struggled, so if the Rockies are going to try to fix the bullpen going into next season, why would they get rid of the one reliever who has proven he can pitch for this team?
Every veteran they could try to bring on this offseason would be an unknown commodity and could end up like Davis and Shaw, so why not just keep Oberg around?
Oberg’s 1.62 ERA not only stands out in an abysmal bullpen, but it is also second in the National League among relievers with 35+ innings pitched. However, despite this accomplishment, Oberg hasn’t garnered a lot of national attention and his lack of name recognition could diminish the Rockies’ return in a potential trade.
A reliever with a 9.5 K/9 and a sub-2.00 ERA who pitched half his games at Coors Field and is under team control for multiple seasons should command a huge return but the Rockies probably won’t get anything close to what Oberg means to this team in return.
If the Rockies were not planning on contending any time soon, dealing Oberg would be a no-brainer, but every indication points to them trying to contend into the 2020’s, so moving someone like Oberg would be something they would regret for a long time.