For the Colorado Rockies, the 2020 season represents a critical year in the franchise’s development. After back-to-back postseason appearances, Colorado struggled to a 71-91 and finished 35 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West standings.
The disappointments in 2019 certainly weren’t for a lack of spending. According to Spotrac.com, the Colorado Rockies were 12th in Major League Baseball last season with a payroll of a franchise-high $156,582,629. Four teams (the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees and the Dodgers) had payrolls that exceeded $200 million.
There is no question that the Rockies have been spending money to try to improve the team and get back to the World Series. There are plenty of questions, however, if that spending has brought back the expected return on investment for Colorado to stay competitive.
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Following the 2020 season, there are four big contracts that are set to expire (even though each has options to extend them past that season). Next year’s expiring contracts includes Wade Davis ($17 million), Jake McGee ($9.5 million), Bryan Shaw ($9 million) and Daniel Murphy ($8 million).
Of those, it is perhaps Murphy that could be the easiest to move for the Rockies. However, “easiest” does not in any way mean that it will be easy for it happen.
If the Rockies could find a trade partner, that partner would not only be taking on the 34-year-old Murphy’s $8 million contract but also a $6 million buyout for the 2021 season if the team and Murphy decides to part ways. If they stay together for the 2021 season, Murphy has a $12 million mutual option that would kick in.
That’s not cheap, and the Rockies may also be limited in their trade partner possibilities as Murphy’s defensive liabilities were well-documented last season in general manager Jeff Bridich’s latest attempt to sign a first baseman. Knowing that Murphy isn’t strong in the field, the Rockies could be looking to partner with an American League team that needs a designated hitter and could best hide Murphy’s defense.
However, last season also didn’t do any favors for the Rockies in terms of pushing Murphy’s offensive capabilities. He hit a career-low .279 while trying to fight back from a broken finger suffered in the season’s second game, marking the second straight season an injury had derailed Murphy’s campaign. He also hit 35 doubles, his lowest mark in seasons where he has played in 110 games or more.
“I thought Daniel’s year, all the way around, was just okay,” Bridich said at the end-of-season get-together that has collected so much scrutiny.
Knowing all of this, could the Rockies move Murphy? It’s possible, and here would be the effects and possibilities.