Winter Dance Partners – Colorado Rockies

Looking ahead to the offseason there are a few teams who may line up with the Jays in terms of team strengths and needs. While it’s obviously a shot in the dark guess, I’ll be looking at a few options over the next few weeks. That starts with the Colorado Rockies, who I look at in this post.

There are so many things that occur and change throughout the offseason that it’s impossible to predict what will happen.

However, that doesn’t mean we can’t all pretend to have an idea! The Blue Jays figure to be fairly active in the trade market and they look to fill the hole that killed them in 2013. Whether on the free agent market or through trades, I’m of the belief that there aren’t going to be any blockbusters. Of course I could be wrong, but I don’t think AA wants to go big and spend a lot of money for a free agent. And as I posted earlier, there’s not a lot of trade pieces that make sense.

However, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing. The bullpen’s a source of strength. Adam Lind is a guy I can see moved without killing the Major League lineup. There are still a couple of minor leaguers like Anthony Gose, Marcus Stroman and Sean Nolin that could go. It’s tough to say what value the lower minor leaguers have, but that’s also a possibility.

One possibility is the Colorado Rockies.

Colorado Rockies

Like the Jays, the Rockies finished at the bottom of their division this year. And like the Jays, the Rockies have some high-priced stars in the prime of their careers. I don’t expect the Jays to trade for Car-Go or Tulowitzki, but there are a few players that make sense.

Colorado has a number of middle infielders, DJ LeMahieu, Jonathan Herrera and Josh Rutledge, who could be traded. LeMahieu and Rutledge are under team control for a few years while Herrara is about to go through arbitration for the second time. None of the players are great offensive players, though many thought 2013 might be a breakout season for Rutledge. The defensive metrics seem to like LeMahieu and Herrara.

Potential middle infielder help, per Fangraphs.

Potential middle infielder help, per Fangraphs.

In the rotation, the Rockies have a few pitchers who may be worth targeting. Jhoulys Chacin is probably the most obvious. He’s due $4.8 million in 2014 and then has one more year of arbitration. He’s not a big strikeout guy, but has had success limiting home runs in the hitter friendly Coors Field.

Tyler Chatwood and Jorge De La Rosa are also possible. Chatwood’s a younger pitcher who had some success this year, his third part-time year in the bigs. De La Rosa has been around and came back from an injury-plagued 2012.

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Starters the Rockies may consider trading to Toronto, per Fangraphs

Though their bullpen  put up the sixth most WAR in baseball, that’s partly due to it having thrown the second most innings. It had the third worst ERA, but was middle of the pack in terms of FIP and xFIP.

Zach Links, at MLBTraderumors speculates the Rockies will be in the hunt for bullpen help this year. With first baseman Todd Helton retiring, could Adam Lind be his replacement? In fact, could a trade be expanded where the Jays get a starter and second baseman for Lind and bullpen help? Maybe throw in a B prospect and/or a starter.

The Anthopolousian Dilemma

The Blue Jays front office has one king hell of a conundrum ahead of them in the coming seasons.

I’m not talking about how to make the 2014 squad a playoff contender. That will be tough in its own right. But the thing is, everyone and their dog knows what needs to be improved: pitching, pitching, catcher, 2B, LF and pitching. For Alex Anthopolous and company it’s just a matter of figuring out what internal options solve those problems and what the best solutions are externally.

The conundrum I see coming up is the battle between now and the future. As Andrew Stoeten pointed out over at DJF (http://blogs.thescore.com/djf/2013/10/01/prospecting-b-a-s-league-by-league-top-20s/), the low minors are looking really solid for the Jays. Led by DJ Davis, Baseball America put seven Jays prospects in the top 20 of the Appalachian League. Those seven prospects are joined by a few others, including 2013 draft picks Clinton Hollon and Rowdy Tellez, as well as Franklin Barreto, who impressed in both the Gulf Coast League and Appy League.

So while the upper minors are pretty bare for the Jays – it seems that outside maybe Sean Nolin and Marcus Stroman there are only pseudo prospects and guys returning from injury – the lower minors are well stocked. 

The problem I see is two-fold. First, these players in the minors are so far from the big leagues they have limited trade appeal. Outside of Aaron Sanchez I doubt any of those players are seen as legitimate trade chips. Look at it this way, if you’re a team trading away a premier pitcher and AA comes to you and offers a couple of guys in low A, what are you going to do?

Look at the Halladay trade a few years back. It took three legit prospects, only one of whom remained in the low minors. So if you want Chris Sale or David Price, it’s going to cost Stroman, Sanchez, Davis, Barreto plus plus.

Which leads to the second problem. In the effort of filling the holes for 2014 how far are you willing to go? As it stands right now, the Jays have a good core but incomplete squad for the next two years. Standing pat would be a nightmare from an optics standpoint, but there’s also an argument to be made that a little better health, a little better luck and the team’s a playoff contender as is.

And the beauty of that is that if it doesn’t work out in the next two years it won’t be a longterm total rebuild. If, after 2015, the team still hasn’t made a push for the playoffs, there will be some guys at the end of their careers or end of contracts that will still be able to net some good young players. While two years down the road is impossible to predict, you have to expect the Jays will still be able to get something in return for EE, Bautista, Rasmus (if he’s still around), and possibly Reyes.

So if all goes well in the minors, at the point the Jays could have elite talent in the upper minors, a few young major leaguers who are still cost controllable, and some older players who are excellent trade chips.

But that’s if all goes well from a development point of view. The prospects could all flame out, and then you’re looking at a total rebuild.

It’s going to be tough. As far as I’d say, unless you’re getting David Price with a five year extension, or someone like that, leave the low minors alone. Take your risks with free agents and making trades based around Lind,  Gose/Rasmus, the bullpen, and one of the youngish depth pitchers.