Rockies offseason preview: Shopping list
If you’ve been following our position-by-position discussions (SP, RP, C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, OF) much of this has already been covered. But here is what the Colorado Rockies will be out looking for this winter:
Right-handed-hitting first baseman
The Rockies probably aren’t going to turn into a full-time pinch-hitter, but they certainly will want someone who can split time at first base. The ideal candidate would be a right-handed hitter who can give Helton a break against some lefties and take over the position if, as happened in 2010, Helton needs an extended break or lands on the disabled list. Whomever the Rockies add will likely to able play another position as well. A few candidates: or , who could also play second and occasionally spell at third against lefties, as well; Conor Jackson, who could play some outfield; or Victor Martinez, who could split time between catcher and first. Martinez, however, would cost the Rockies their first-round pick as well as a substantial amount of money. A young first baseman blocked elsewhere, like the Reds’ Yonder Alonso, is also a possibility. But Alonso is a left-handed hitter, which wouldn’t create an obvious power-sharing situation at first.
and are now likely backup outfielders, so the Rockies will be looking for a new right or left fielder with taking the other corner. The Rockies have some intriguing in-house outfield prospects like , and, even further down the line, perhaps 2010 first-round pick . But none of the three is ready to assume an everyday major-league role; Parker has yet to even see a professional pitch. The Rockies will look for someone through free agency or a trade. However, don’t expect the team to dive into the market for Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth, who are in line for a substantial raises as the top free-agent position players on the market. The Rockies have some room under their budget, more than they’ve had in some time, but either player would fill up that budget in a hurry. The Rockies are more likely to get involved in talks for several outfielders who could be available in trades, like the Kansas City Royals’ David DeJesus or the St. Louis Cardinals’ Colby Rasmus.
This item will be found along with one of the previous two. Because a first baseman will inevitably share time with Helton, the Rockies are more likely to look for an impact bat in the outfield, where there’s a clear open position, or someone who can play multiple positions like Martinez. The Rockies will be looking for a No. 5 or 6 hitter with power and a better walk-strikeout ratio than their current in-house options.
Whether or not they can bring back will be one of the first questions the Rockies have to answer after the World Series. Prospects for his return look promising at the moment. While the market for De La Rosa, a lefty with the stuff to be a frontline starter, has the potential to get out of control, the lack of a long history of success for De La Rosa might be enough the dampen the free-agent outlook enough that the Rockies look like the safest bet for a payday. If that happens, the Rockies, who understand they won’t get De La Rosa for nothing, could bring him back with a substantial raise that still fits their budget. Regardless of whether the Rockies bring De La Rosa or their other left-handed free-agent starter, , back, they will continue to look for upgrades to the rotation in the trade market or other free agents like Francis, who have something to prove and might be had for a bargain on one-year deals.
Of lower priority given the excess of candidates for two or three spots in the bullpen is finding an additional arm to take some of the load off the and and perhaps provide some insurance for . The Rockies may look for help in a trade or veterans on minor-league contracts. But given the amount of money already committed to the bullpen — $7.3 million for Street, $3.775 million for Betancourt, $3.5 million to an injured and an arbitration raise for Belisle — this probably will not be a high-expenditure area.