Colorado Rockies: The franchise’s 10 worst free agent signings

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01 Mar 2001: Pitcher Denny Neagle #15 of the Colorado Rockies warms up from the mound at Hi Corbett Field in Tucson, Arizona. Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr/ALLSPORT
01 Mar 2001: Pitcher Denny Neagle #15 of the Colorado Rockies warms up from the mound at Hi Corbett Field in Tucson, Arizona. Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr/ALLSPORT /
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Ian Desmond of the Colorado Rockies
LOS ANGELES, CA – SEPTEMBER 04: Ian Desmond #20 of the Colorado Rockies throws his bat as he reacts to striking out during the seventh inning at Dodger Stadium on September 4, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /

For a mid-market team like the Colorado Rockies, all of your free agent moves have to be hits. Spending big on a player that doesn’t work out can tank the entire health of the organization for years to come. To this day, the failure of some of these signings has impacted the way the club does business – and the way free agents do business with the club.

Here are the 10 worst free agents signings in Colorado Rockies history. The fact that more than one of these high-priced mistakes were still playing for the team in 2019 may go part of the way toward explaining why this last year was a little rough.

Ian Desmond

With yet another below-replacement-level season in 2019, Ian Desmond has all but solidified his status as the worst free-agent signing in Rockies history.

Over the course of his three-year Rockies tenure, Desmond has compiled a -3.5 WAR – all for the low, low price of $45 million. To make matters worse, there are still two years and $23M left on his deal before the Rox finally have the opportunity to buy him out for the bargain price of only $2M.

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One of the major issues with Desmond has been the fact that he has been awful at every position that he’s been tried at. Signed as a first baseman despite never having played there, he’s been shuttled back and forth between first, left and center in attempts to find a position that Desmond can handle. These attempts, for the most part, have all failed. Desmond has -4.5 dWAR combined between the three positions.

It’s also not like Desmond’s bat has been irreplaceable. After an injury-marred 2017, in 2018 Desmond had one of the hollowest 20-20 seasons you’ll ever find. He hit 20 homers again this season, though inexplicably he also totally stopped running (3/6 in SB).

His career slash line for Colorado is .252/.313/.429, good for an underwhelming 82 OPS+. This is particularly disappointing considering that he plays in one of the most offensive-friendly environments in baseball during one of the most homer-friendly eras in history.

It is unclear where he’ll be starting in 2019 – if he’ll be starting at all. Right now, his best fit seems to be as a bat off the bench that specializes in hitting lefties. Potentially useful, sure, but unlikely to ever make up for the money he’s been, and will continue to be, paid.

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