The Colorado Rockies have made a surprise splash in the free-agent market. The Rockies have agreed to terms with free agent outfielder/third baseman Kris Bryant, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network. The deal is for seven years and $182 million, ESPN's Jeff Passan adds. According to multiple reports, Bryant's deal also includes a full no-trade clause for the life of the contract. The pact will run through Bryant's age-36 season.
Bryant, 30, is one of the most coveted free agents of the 2021-22 class. He spent last season with the Cubs and Giants. Coming into the offseason, we ranked Bryant as the No. 3 available free agent. Here's R.J. Anderson's write-up:
What is there to write about Bryant that hasn't been written before? He's a middle-of-the-order hitter who can play each of the corner spots (as well as some center field) and who carries himself like a face of the franchise. It's too bad that his legacy is going to be intertwined with the popularization (and, therefore, the normalization) of service-time manipulation. He deserves better.
In 2021 for the Cubs and Giants, Bryant batted .265/.353/.481 (124 OPS+) with 25 home runs in 144 games. For his career, Bryant owns an OPS+ of 132 across parts of seven big-league seasons. He's a four-time All-Star and in 2016 claimed NL MVP honors as a member of the world champion Cubs.
Superficially, Bryant will of course benefit from playing his home games at a mile above sea level in Coors Field, but he remains a top-tier hitter in any context. That's to say nothing of his defensive flexibility.
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Even with Bryant, however, the Rockies don't profile as contenders, particularly in a division that also includes the Dodgers, Giants, and Padres. The Rockies are coming off a 2021 season in which they lost 87 games, and they've finished in fourth place for three straight years.
As well, free agent shortstop Trevor Story doesn't figure to return to the Rockies. While this kind of roster investment by the club is praiseworthy -- it's the largest free-agent contract in franchise history -- it continues a puzzling trend by the Rockies that involves not quite fully committing to contention but also not fully committing to any kind of rebuild. Either way, Bryant promptly becomes the face of the franchise after the assumed loss of Story via free agency and the February 2021 trade that sent Nolan Arenado the Cardinals.