Rockies reliever Justin Lawrence is 29 years old entering the 2024 season, he is pre arbitration and is under club control through 2028. Lawrence was drafted in the 12th round in 2015 from Daytona CC, he is 6’3 and throws from a three-quarter arm slot and features a wicked slider that he will throw to righties and lefties in any count. A legitimate back-end bullpen piece, Lawrence threw 75 innings last year, striking out 78, and boasting a 1.4 WAR with 11 saves. Simply put, Lawrence is a high-end bullpen arm with a funky delivery who can eat high leverage innings, something not many teams have at their disposal.
Over in the American League, the Mariners and White Sox recently made a trade sending 24-year-old flame throwing righty, Gregory Santos, to the Pacific Northwest for reliever prospect Prelander Berroa (M's 15th ranked prospect), outfielder Zach DeLoach (M's 25th rated prospect) and the ever so enticing 69th pick in the 2024 draft. Now, obviously Justin Lawrence is not Gregory Santos, but the return begs the question what the Rockies might be able to acquire if they were to make Lawrence available.
One potential trade partner is none other than those same Mariners, who, should they acquire Lawrence, would be adding yet another stellar arm to an already loaded pitching staff, and more importantly for M's GM Jerry Dipoto, club control until 2028. Lawrence would provide a strong compliment with his arm slot and UFO slider to "Los Bomberos" with Andres Munoz, Matt Brash, and now Santos, who all throw straight gas.
A possible intriguing return could be second baseman Ryan Bliss, who the Mariners acquired in the Paul Sewald trade at the 2023 deadline, and with the recent addition of second baseman Jorge Polanco from the Twins, Bliss' chance of seeing significant playing time in 2024 is likely slim. Bliss alone would not be enough to get this deal done, and it would likely take another of Seattle's top 20 prospects, perhaps right hander Taylor Dollard or outfielder Cade Marlowe, an intriguing possibility for the Rockies who are looking for middle infield depth and are always in need of pitching or corner outfield.
Another potential suitor for Lawrence is the Baltimore Orioles, who are without the services of superstar closer Felix Bautista, likely for the entire 2024 season. The Orioles signed Craig Kimbrel this offseason, and still boast a strong bullpen featuring Yennier Cano and Danny Columbe, but it still feels like they might be one piece away from supporting the juggernaut organization they are building at Camden Yards. Lawrence could very well be the aforementioned missing piece, which could easily bring them even more over the top with very little money spent.
As far as a return goes, the Rockies could be looking at a package built around the young speedster, outfielder Enrique Bradfield, who could easily patrol the massive centerfield at Coors while being a constant threat to run, he is 22 and is currently in High-A. Another name is Connor Norby, a 5'9 second baseman who will have a hard time breaking through the Orioles incredibly strong infield. A player like Norby (or Bliss) could open up the Rockies to moving Brendan Rogers at the trade deadline to further rebuild a still depleted farm system.
Whether we want to admit it or not, the Rockies are likely still faced with a few more years of rebuild, and it is hard to justify keeping a strong reliever with years of club control that could get a return that would bring the team closer to competing. As much as I would hate to see Justin Lawrence in another uniform, the Rockies will need to at least consider the possibility of moving on from him while his value is at its peak.
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