What Hammel’s ’11 deal means in ’12

January 22, 2011 | 12:09 pm | 4  

The Colorado Rockies agreed to a two-year contract with starting pitcher Jason Hammel that will cover his final two years of arbitration eligibility. That means four of the team’s five projected 2011 starters — Ubaldo Jimenez, Jorge De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin and Hammel — are under team control in 2012 as well. Only Aaron Cook remains uncertain. He is in the final year of a three-year extension that began in 2009, but the Rockies and Cook have a mutual option for 2012 at $11 million.

A lot depends on 2011 performance, but assuming the four guys under team control all do well enough to be part of the rotation in 2012, who’s the best bet for the fifth spot?

  • Cook: Either with his option picked up or a new contract. Without a great season in 2011, the Rockies probably won’t pick up his expensive option but a solid year — say, 15 wins, an ERA in the 4s and 190+ innings — could lead to a contract extension.
  • Christian Friedrich: The former first-round pick will likely return to Double-A start the season. He projects as a middle-of-the-rotation starter and hopes to avoid the injuries that kept him from making progress in 2011.
  • Greg Reynolds: Another former first-round pick who has been slowed by numerous injuries. After missing the start of the 2010 season with a freak injury in spring training, he closed the 2010 season with a solid run in Double-A and later pitched in the Arizona Fall League. He was one option left this season. He will be given a shot to win a job in spring training but is more likely to start the season at Triple-A.
  • Esmil Rogers: The right-hander made eight starts for the Rockies in 2010 and will be in the mix for a spot in spring training. He could end up in the bullpen with the Rockies or starting at Triple-A.
  • Felipe Paulino: The Rockies acquired the big right-hander this offseason to compete for a spot in the starting rotation or the Rockies bullpen. He was once considered one of the top prospects in the Houston Astros organization.
  • Jeff Francis: The ace of the Rockies’ 2007 World Series team signed a one-year contract with the Kansas City Royals this offseason. If he proves he’s healthy, he could land another big deal and the Rockies might have a spot to bring him back.

Someone else?


  • Rocky Mountain High | January 22, 2011 | 12:34 pm

    I know he’s much further away from MLB caliber, but I’m intrigued by Alberto Campos. I would guess Tyler Matzek would be ready in 2013 or 2014 at the latest.

  • Steve Foster | January 22, 2011 | 12:48 pm

    Nicasio is someone I should have included in this list. He gets a big test this year moving up to Double-A but it seems as if started to pick up steam at the end of 2010. If that carries over he’s certainly a candidate.

    Matzek is probably 2013 at the earliest — he should move to Modesto in 2011 and spend the whole season there and then go to Tulsa in 2012. If things click for him by then, he could move faster, but his performance in 2010 suggests that while he has great stuff he still has a lot to learn.

    Campos is probably a year behind that as he should to Asheville to start this season. But I’m intrigued as well. He’s a big kid with good command for such a young kid.

    Tago is someone else who could arrive around 2013-14. Tough to say how fast he will develop.

  • Jasper | January 22, 2011 | 8:25 pm

    I look for Cook to bounce back this season and be considered for comeback player of the year. Despite that, I do not see an expensive Cook in the 2012 rotation – his spot will go to one of Paulino, Rogers, Friedrich, Nicasio, or even perhaps Morales. I am from Missouri on Reynolds and don’t see him in the mix for anything.

  • Dylan M. | January 23, 2011 | 11:08 pm

    I agree with Jasper in that Cook will rebound in 2011, but the Rox will not pick up his hefty $11 million option in 2012. In a perfect world, Christian Friedrich bounces back from his miserable year and pitches the way he did in 2009 and is in the rotation in 2012, a la Madison Bumgarner (who I think is severely overrated headed into the season).

    I see more of a Rogers/Paulino battle, and Nicasio as the dark horse.