Rockies offseason preview: Shortstop

October 11, 2010 | 10:01 am | 7  

The Colorado Rockies have some questions to answer about their 2011 lineup, but who will playing shortstop isn’t one of them.

(Read our other previews and catch up with the discussions here: SP, RP, C, 1B, 2B.)

WHO’S LIKELY TO RETURN
Troy Tulowitzki, 315, 27 HRs, 95 RBI: At least one position on the 2011 Rockies is settled. Tulowitzki led all major-league shortstops in hitting, home runs, RBI, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. He ended the season as the National League’s Player of the Month after a memorable stretch during which he hit 14 home runs in 15 games. Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez make up perhaps the most dynamic three-four duo in any lineup in baseball. Tulowitzki will earn $5.5 million in the fourth year of a six-year contact that includes an option for 2014.

ON THE FARM
Chris Nelson and Hector Gomez are running into the same sort of roadblock Garrett Atkins and Brad Hawpe, both first basemen once upon a time, hit: the franchise player. Nelson and Gomez, along with Thomas Field, another shortstop at high Class-A Modesto, could be major-league regulars one day, perhaps even at another position with the Rockies. But as long as he’s healthy, Tulowitzki is a fixture as the starting shortstop.

WHAT THE ROCKIES NEED
The only thing more the Rockies could ask from Tulowitzki is a healthy season. The six weeks he missed with a fractured wrist starting in mid-June hurt the Rockies just as they were beginning to gel and may have cost Tulowitzki more serious consideration as the NL MVP.

WHAT THE ROCKIES WILL DO
Tulowitzki’s the guy, but if Clint Barmes — the Rockies’ starting shortstop before Tulowitzki and his injury replacement in 2010 — is non-tendered and leaves the team, the most logical backup plan leaves as well. Jonathan Herrera, who is a good bet to make the team either as the starting second baseman or utility infielder, played primarily shortstop throughout his minor-league career and would become the emergency shortstop. Nelson, too, has spent most of his minor-league career at shortstop and is an option in a pinch, but the Rockies might decide to let him focus next season on another position, like second base, where he has the chance to stick in the major leagues.

7 Comments »

  • Julian | October 11, 2010 | 10:19 am

    Yes, no controversy here. Maybe the only question here is does Tulo win his first Gold Glove.

  • Wayne | October 11, 2010 | 10:57 am

    Steve, is that a player or club option in 2014? I would like to think we could have him longer but 4 more years is something to work with. Would like to see the team do something for him that it didn’t do for Helton, put together a squad that wins the WS before his contract runs out.

  • Steve Foster | October 11, 2010 | 11:31 am

    Club option.

  • Bill | October 11, 2010 | 8:51 pm

    Not much conversation on this as this is a no-brainer. Steve, a question for you. Who is Tulo’s agent? If it’s not Boros, do we have a chance to sign him again?

  • Steve Foster | October 11, 2010 | 9:21 pm

    His agent is not Boras, so the Rockies have that going for them. No reason to expect that the Rockies won’t at least have a shot at re-signing him. The Rockies signed Helton to a huge deal years ago that made him the face of the Rockies and an icon in Denver. They also made an offer to Holliday before they traded him that, depending on what reports you believe, might have been higher than any offer he received as a free agent except the one he eventually signed with the Cardinals. The question will be how the Rockies weigh signing Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, who will be a free agent after 2014 as well. The Rockies could sign both of them, particularly if attendance and revenue continue to rise, but it might be difficult to sign both to full market-value contracts.

  • Bill | October 11, 2010 | 10:49 pm

    Steve. Thanks for the info. I am under the impression that Boros is Cargo’s agent. If that’s true I would think that he would be hard to sign no matter what they offered him. I heard the same rumors you did about the Rockies offering Holliday a ton of money which he turned down. That worked out ok for the Rockies because they got Cargo (and to a lesser extent Street). Doubt if they can catch lighting in a bottle twice.

  • Steve Foster | October 11, 2010 | 11:02 pm

    Boras is Gonzalez’s agent, which in one sense complicates things somewhat, but also might simplify the approach. All this is still four seasons away, so a lot can change between now and then. But it would make sense — based on how things look now — that the Rockies work aggressively to sign Tulowitzki to an extension after the 2013 season when Tulo is entering the $15 million option year of his contract. If they can sign Tulo, then they have at least one of the two under contract and a cornerstone to continue to build around. Then, depending on the situation on the field and with the payroll, they could let Gonzalez stay through his arbitration years and try to resign him as a free agent or trade him as they did with Holliday. Boras’ clients almost never sign long-term deals during their arbitration years that eat into free agency, but they don’t always leave their teams (witness Holliday resigning with the Cardinals). So the Rockies might have a chance to sign Gonzalez as a free agent if they don’t trade him beforehand. They may take the same approach they did with Holliday, only trade him if the deal is so enticing that it’s better than what they would receive if he left as a free agent, or they may ride it out.