On Tuesday, the St. Louis Cardinals introduced new third baseman Nolan Arenado in a conference call with reporters. . Colorado ate $51 million of the $199 million remaining on Arenado's contract to make it happen.
"It was Nolan's choice. He wanted to move on ... He just felt it was time for him to try something else out," Rockies chairman Dick Monfort told reporters, including MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, on Tuesday. "... We honored what Nolan wanted to do and we made what we thought was the best thing we could do at the time."
Trading Arenado and being stuck in the NL West with the Dodgers and Padres suggests the Rockies should begin a rebuild, but that is not the case. GM Jeff Bridich shot down rebuild talk -- "We have an extremely talented team. They are built to compete," he said -- and said he expects impending free agent Trevor Story to begin the season with the team.
"This certainly is not a total tear-down and rebuild ... If that was the case, certain players already would have been traded," Bridich told Feinsand and the Denver Post's Patrick Saunders. "... We certainly cherish having Trevor as our shortstop. It's difficult to predict what the coming months are going to look like."
The Rockies went 97-125 the last two years, the seventh-worst record in baseball, and that was with Arenado. They're only notable move this offseason other than trading Arenado was the relatively minor Jeff Hoffman-for-Robert Stephenson trade. Last year the Rockies scored 4.58 runs per game despite playing their home games in Coors Field, below the 4.65 MLB average.
Colorado's post-Arenado lineup figures to look something like this:
- LF Raimel Tapia
- SS Trevor Story
- RF Charlie Blackmon
- 3B Ryan McMahon
- 1B Ian Desmond
- 2B Brendan Rodgers
- CF Sam Hilliard
- C Elias Diaz
- Pitcher's spot
Story is a bona fide star and Blackmon just keeps chugging long, putting up solid season after solid season. Rodgers is one of the game's top prospects, though injuries have hampered him the last two years and he's struck out 33 times against only four walks in 102 MLB plate appearances. Still, it's time to give him an extended look.
Point is, that lineup is real thin beyond Story and Blackmon, and as much as I like German Marquez and Kyle Freeland, the Rockies don't have nearly pitching enough to overcome the lack of offense. The team's positional projections at FanGraphs paint a bleak picture:
|2021 WAR projection||MLB rank|
The worst or second-worst team at every position except the positions Story and Blackmon play. There are still plenty of free agents available -- Mitch Moreland and outfielder Nomar Mazara would represent multi-win upgrades.-- so it shouldn't be too hard to improve the offense. Modest free agents like first baseman
The thing is, Moreland and Mazara and whoever else wouldn't be enough to put the Rockies into the postseason mix, Jon Gray rebounding, etc.) is what, fighting for the second wild card spot? That's about as good as it can get for Colorado in 2021.. Their absolute best-case scenario (Rodgers breaking out,
"If you're looking to pass blame, you can blame me," Bridich told Feinsand. "I'm the GM. That's part of the role, part of the job."
The Rockies were bad the last two years and they figure to be even worse going forward because Arenado is gone and it's hard to see Story sticking around long-term. The front office is inept -- the general manager alienated the franchise player and they have a knack for wasting money (Desmond, Wade Davis, etc.) while letting good players leave (DJ LeMahieu, Tom Murphy, etc.) -- and ownership is oblivious. Why would they rebuild? That would require having an actual plan.