Last year the Rockies finished with the third worst record in all of baseball, the only two teams worse were the Athletics and the Royals. One would think that these teams would focus on prospects, trading away veterans and look towards acquiring young controllable talent. Well, that may be the case for two of those teams, as they have been pretty inactive, but the Royals have been aggressive in proving they are ready to compete.
The three teams thought to be in the baseball cellar were all sellers at the 2023 MLB trade deadline and it made sense, as all three finished with more than 100 losses. While the Athletics and Rockies are focusing on short term, bounce back candidates and free agents that won't block their current youngsters and trying to fill in the edges of the roster with mediocre, at best, talent, the Royals are aggressively pursuing solid talent to be key contributors for the 2024 season and beyond. They have added some solid talent to their bullpen with guys like Nick Anderson, Will Smith, and Chris Stratton. They added a couple of solid veterans, in starting pitchers Seth Lugo and Michael Wacha. They also made a few under the radar additions in second baseman, Adam Frazier, and corner outfielder Hunter Renfroe.
These additions may not seem like a lot, but signing solid relievers, while adding a starting pitcher to a three-year deal, isn't typically what rebuilding teams do. The Royals owner has been very aggressive this season and it seemed confusing for many, but it all came to a head when they signed star shortstop, Bobby Witt Jr. to an 11-year deal, worth $288.8 million (though it could be more or less with options. Jeff Passan reports a ceiling of 14-years and $377 million). All of these offseason additions were to prove to Witt Jr. that this group is serious about contending and contending soon.
Where does that leave the Rockies?
As the Rockies sit back and watch the Royals make these additions and extend their star player, it makes many wonder what the Rockies are doing. According to USA Today, the Rockies had a payroll of $171 million in 2023 while the Royals were at $92 million. the Rockies should have had no issues going after some starting pitchers this offseason (Lugo got $15 million AAV, Wacha got two-years and $32 million), while guys like Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery are still free agents. The Rockies have the financial flexibility to make these moves as a team that is regularly in the top 10 or 15 in payroll (they are currently around $140 million).
The Rockies must recognize that they need to lock up young talent like Nolan Jones in a similar way the Royals locked up Witt Jr., the Mariners locked up Julio Rodriguez, the Braves locked up Ronald Acuna Jr. These are all teams that look to be aggressive in contending now and in the future and have continuously separated themselves from the Rockies at the bottom of the baseball barrel. The Rockies need to learn from these teams as far as building a team, drafting and developing and extending your talent, otherwise it will be the same old same old and we will endure another five or ten years of mediocrity from the Rockies.
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