How the 2019 offseason killed the Colorado Rockies-Nolan Arenado relationship
By Kevin Henry
But there was more happening with the Rockies that offseason than just Arenado’s contract.
DJ LeMahieu was signed by the Yankees to a two-year, $24 million deal. Daniel Murphy became Colorado’s biggest free-agent signing, inking a similar contract with the Rockies. While LeMahieu went on to show he was no Coors Field product in New York, finishing fourth in the AL MVP voting, Murphy suffered a finger injury in Colorado’s season-opening series and would miss time with the injury, then struggle once he returned. Colorado GM Jeff Bridich admitted that Murphy may have returned too quickly, not helping the cause at all.
The 2019 season turned out to be a disaster for the Rockies, with Kyle Freeland falling from finishing fourth in NL Cy Young balloting to being demoted to Triple-A and Colorado seemingly never recovering from a four-game home series with the San Diego Padres over Father’s Day weekend when the teams combined to score 92 runs and log 131 hits, both modern-day records for a four-game set.
After 91-72 (including the Game 163 loss) in 2018, the Rockies went 71-91 in 2019. Two days after the season ended, Bridich, team owner Dick Monfort, and manager Bud Black meet with the media and explain how major changes aren’t needed for the team to rebound in 2020.
Major changes don’t happen that offseason, with pitcher Jose Mujica becoming the only free-agent signing. The 24-year-old right-hander would see action in just two games in 2020, registering a 2.769 WHIP, partly with 10 hits surrendered in 4.1 innings pitched.
That same offseason, Arenado’s discontent begins to bubble very publicly. He tells the Denver ABC affiliate that, “Jeff (Bridich) is very disrespectful” and “I can only get crossed so many times.” The Arenado-Bridich spat becomes the early focus of spring training before COVID-19 shuts down camp and forces baseball to temporarily halt.