Rockies, led by Daniel Bard and Chad Kuhl, have five viable trade candidates
Major League Baseball’s trade deadline arrives one month and one day from Friday. The Rockies, owners of a 33-43 record and nine games out of the final National League wild-card spot, certainly won’t be buyers.
General manager Bill Schmidt, whose immediate goal is to climb back to .500, will listen to offers from other teams. But that certainly doesn’t mean that the Rockies will have a fire sale. After all, the club held on to both all-star shortstop Trevor Story and right-hander Jon Gray last summer and they walked away as free agents.
“Rebuilding” is apparently not part of the Rockies’ vocabulary, even though they have a .444 winning percentage since the end of the 2018 season.
At last year’s deadline, a number of teams, led by the Chicago White Sox, Tampa Bay and Toronto, had conversations with the Rockies about a trade for Story, but Colorado’s asking price never dropped, so no deal came together.
“With what we were offered, we thought the (competitive balance) pick was better suited for us and we could have Trevor on our team for another two months,” Schmidt said at the time. “If (any deals) were close, we probably would’ve got to the finish line.”
The Rockies hope to convert the Story trade into an impact player of the future with the 31st overall selection in this year’s draft.
As the trade deadline nears, the Rockies have a number of players at or near the end of their contracts; players that other teams will be interested in.
Trades could bring the Rockies much-needed prospects. Schmidt, however, has made it clear that he’s keeping most of the starting rotation together, i.e. lefties Kyle Freeland and Austin Gomber and right-handers German Marquez and Antonio Senzatela.
“I still say that our pitching is our strength,” Schmidt said last week. “And it’s too hard for us to acquire pitching. So we still have the core that we are going to build around, going forward. That hasn’t changed.”
Following is an examination of the Rockies’ top trade candidates:
Closer Daniel Bard: The right-hander just turned 37 but still throws a 98 mph fastball. In 29 2/3 innings, he’s posted a 2.12 ERA with a 0.94 WHIP and has 15 saves in 17 chances.
He’s eligible to become a free agent for the first time at the end of the season and Bard owes it to himself to cash in. The Rockies, however, will likely try to sign him to a contract extension.
Right-handed starter Chad Kuhl: He’s been Colorado’s best and most consistent starter, going 5-5 with a 3.49 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and a .244 batting average against. He’s fresh off a three-hit shutout of the Dodgers on Monday at Coors Field.
Kuhl signed a one-year, $3 million deal to join the Rockies and is due to become a free agent. A number of contending teams will inquire about Kuhl as they search for rotation depth.
Shortstop Jose Iglesias: He’s been a steady player for Colorado, hitting .296 with a .343 on-base percentage. He’s a solid, though not eye-opening middle infielder. For the second straight year, Iglesias could find himself going from a losing team to a contender. Last season, the Angels released him late, and he helped the Red Sox get to the postseason (although he was ineligible because he joined the team past the trade deadline).
Moving Iglesias could open the door for hot-shot shortstop prospect Ezequiel Tovar, should the Rockies decide to promote the 20-year-old directly from Double-A Hartford.
Right-handed reliever Alex Colome: The veteran is having a solid season. He’s lowered his ERA from 6.23 on May 7 to 2.54 and is one of four National League relievers (minimum 25 innings pitched) to have not allowed a home run this season.
He’s pitching on a one-year, $4.1 million contract and is headed toward free agency. It’s a situation similar to last summer when the Rockies traded veteran right-hander Mychal Givens to Cincinnati in return for minor league right-handers Case Williams and Noah Davis.
First baseman C.J. Cron: The veteran has been Colorado’s best offensive player, hitting .294 with 17 homers, 56 RBIs and a .882 OPS. He’s also played a solid first base and has become a strong presence in the clubhouse.
Cron is in the first year of a two-year, $14.5 million deal and he’s been a bargain for the Rockies. It will take a lot for Colorado to move him, but a number of teams, including the Mets and Red Sox, will likely be calling Schmidt.
Diamondbacks RHP Merrill Kelly (6-5, 3.64 ERA) at Rockies RHP Antonio Senzatela (3-4, 4.66)
6:10 p.m. Friday, Coors Field
Radio: KOA 850 AM/94.1 FM
Senzatela has been the epitome of inconsistency. Last Sunday at Minnesota, he allowed four runs on eight hits with two walks and six strikeouts across five innings in the Rockies’ 6-0 loss to the Twins. He’s 3-7 (Rockies 5-9) with a 6.12 ERA in 14 career starts against Arizona. In six career starts vs. the Diamondbacks at Coors Field, he’s 1-2 with a 5.50 ERA. The right-hander, however, has pitched well at home this season, going 3-1 with a 3.52 ERA in eight starts.
Kelly, the subject of trade rumors, dominated the Rockies during a start at Chase Field on May 6, falling one out shy of his first complete game. He allowed one run in 8 2/3 innings. Kelly is 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA in his last three road starts. The right-hander is 2-3 with a 5.40 ERA in seven career starts vs. Colorado, including going 1-0 with a 2.29 ERA over his last three outings.
Trending: Through his last 10 games, second baseman Brendan Rodgers is hitting .381 (16-for-42), with six doubles, two triples, one home run and nine RBIs.
At issue: The Rockies are still struggling to slug home runs. They have hit 69, ranking 21st in the majors. They have hit just 18 on the road, last in the majors.
Saturday: Diamondbacks RHP Zach Davies (2-4, 3.94) at Rockies LHP Austin Gomber (3-7, 6.55), 6:10 p.m., ATTRM
Sunday: Diamondbacks RHP Zac Gallen (4-2, 3.32) at Rockies RHP Chad Kuhl (5-5, 3.49), 1:10 p.m., ATTRM