On day four of Colorado Rockies spring training, Rockies manager Bud Black spoke to the media, including Rox Pile, in the aftermath of Colorado Rockies outfielder Ian Desmond announcing that he is opting out of the season (for the second season in a row).
Desmond, 35, will forfeit his $8 million salary, which is a pay cut from what he was originally going to make in 2020, which was $15 million. Desmond indicated that he is opting out of the season “for now,” meaning that he will reassess at a later date to determine whether or not he will return to the Rockies in the final year of his contract (unless the Rockies exercise their team option for him next season, which is very unlikely).
Desmond telegraphed that he may be opting out to Black and general manager Jeff Bridich in recent conversations but Black did not want to indicate anything until Desmond made it official himself. He did so on Instagram on Sunday morning.
There are a few players that could replace Desmond on the field and in the clubhouse.
“There’s a couple guys [that could fill Desmond’s spot on the roster and his playing time],” said Black. “Chris Owings, Sam Hilliard, whether we decide to [give] full-time [play to Garrett] Hampson in the outfield, we have some options to work through here in the next five and a half weeks to supplement Desmond.”
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Black also indicated that Bret Boswell, Yonathan Daza, and non-roster invitees Connor Joe and Greg Bird could also get more playing time. Daza, 25, is out of minor league options so he will have to either make the MLB team or be designated for assignment. He then would be subject to waivers and if he passed through waivers, he could remain in the Rockies organization.
Desmond has been a disappointment on the field as he had a negative -3.2 WAR, per Baseball-Reference but, as Black said, “more than anything, he brought a great deal of leadership” to the team. With the Rockies now becoming even younger (assuming Desmond does not return), Charlie Blackmon will be the most tenured player on the Rockies both in MLB service time and time with the Rockies. If they make the team, Chris Owings and C.J. Cron would be the next most tenured by MLB service time followed by Mychal Givens and Scott Oberg rounding out the top five by service time.
By service time with the Rockies in the majors, Blackmon leads the way with Oberg, Jon Gray, Trevor Story, and German Marquez round out the top five. Black said that he expects Blackmon and Trevor Story to fill that leadership void along with some members of the pitching staff.