CHICAGO — Colorado Rockies general manager Bill Schmidt sat in the visitor’s dugout at Guaranteed Rate Field, watching his team prepare to face the Chicago White Sox without Kris Bryant and José Iglesias, two of the more well-known signings of the offseason, in the lineup.
The absence of Iglesias is a more recent occurrence, with the veteran shortstop going on the injured list on September 6 with a right hand contusion. While losing one of only two Colorado Rockies hitting over .300 this season (Yonathan Daza being the other) is suboptimal (as manager Bud Black might say), Schmidt is looking at the time with Iglesias on the bench to see what Alan Trejo and Garrett Hampson can do at the position.
“I think Alan’s done a pretty solid job on both sides, defensively and offensively,” Schmidt said, noting Trejo’s .310/.375/.621 slash line in 29 September at-bats. “I have history with Garrett, so I know what he’s capable of and he’s been able to play some center field as well. Garrett’s a solid player defensively.”
The future for the Rockies at the position, however, is likely Ezequiel Tovar, who Schmidt told us at the time of the interview had been “progressing” from a groin injury that kept him out of this year’s Futures Game. On Thursday night, he made his Triple-A debut with Albuquerque, pushing him one step closer to his MLB debut.
With Iglesias out of the lineup due to injury, Schmidt said that there was no thought of rushing Tovar to MLB, but rather letting him continue his rehab, then show what he could do against Triple-A pitching.
Regarding Bryant, Schmidt says that he is also holding out hope that Bryant, the franchise’s biggest offseason acquisition, will return to the Rockies this season.
“He’s out of the boot and he’s working out and starting baseball activities,” Schmidt said. “Even if it’s the last week or last 10 days, I think it would still be good for him (to come back and play).”
Bryant has played in just 42 games for the Rockies this season and Schmidt said the impact of Bryant’s absence caused a domino effect on the lineup and its potential.
“You’re looking at a middle of the order bat, right? I think it would have taken some of the heat off ideally the other guys like C.J. (Cron), Charlie (Blackmon), even a (Randal) Grichuk or (Ryan) McMahon. He would have the taken the heat off those guys,” Schmidt said. “When you kind of envisioned it (the lineup this season), it didn’t play out that way.”
Sitting at 61-82 heading into a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, Schmidt said the plans for next year are “always evolving,” but there are discussions about how to improve the team already underway.
“We’re always thinking about next year,” Schmidt said. “We’re trying to get an idea on how guys are finishing up and try to not get emotional at the time with what you’re looking at in the present versus the whole season. Also looking at what do we have coming potentially who could help us or when can they help us.”
Some of that future is here now in Michael Toglia and Sean Bouchard.
“In my mind, I knew at some point Michael would get up here,” Schmidt said. “I knew what he was capable of doing and I knew when we bringing him up, he was in a good spot. With Sean, my guess is that he would have probably gotten a real good look back in June when he got hurt.”
Thinking about next year also includes where the Rockies have needs, and Schmidt says that the Rockies will look at the top of the batting order and in center field as one way to improve next season.
“Ideally, we probably need to try to find a center fielder and ideally a leadoff type guy. Is that the same person? Hopefully it is. We also need to add some speed somewhere,” Schmidt said. “We have pieces. I said last year we have pieces and we need to get more. It hasn’t changed. We’re getting more pieces, but there are still pieces we need to be the type of club we want to be.”
Schmidt also didn’t rule out improving pitching depth in 2023 through free agency or even via trades.
“We’ll look at what’s available,” Schmidt said. “It could be a trade, using some of our guys for trades. That’s always on the table. We have to try to improve the club.”