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Offseason-in-Review: Colorado Rockies

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The bullpen was the focal point for a busy Rockies offseason.

MLB: Colorado Rockies-Media Day
This guy got paid a lot!
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado Rockies (87-75)

Additions

C Chris Iannetta (signed a two-year contract for $8.5 million with a vesting option)
RP Wade Davis (signed a three-year contract for $52 million with a vesting option)
RP Bryan Shaw (signed a three-year contract for $27 million with a club option)

Subtractions

C Jonathan Lucroy (signed a one-year contract with the Athletics)
SP Tyler Chatwood (signed a three-year contract with the Cubs)
RP Pat Neshek (signed a two-year contract with the Phillies)

1B Mark Reynolds (remains a free agent)
RP Greg Holland (remains a free agent)

The Additions list above doesn’t fully encapsulate just how busy the offseason was for the team in the Mile High City, as the Rockies also spent a total of $35 million to bring back outfielder Carlos Gonzalez and lefty reliever Jake McGee, bringing their total expenditures in free agency this offseason to a hefty $122.5 million, with $106 million of that being spent toward the bullpen.

It’s a bit odd to see the team with MLB’s most hitter-friendly park spend essentially its entire offseason focusing on pitching, and yet it’s undoubtable that the Rockies now boast one of the league’s best bullpens, with Wade Davis and Bryan Shaw joining McGee, bounce-back candidate Adam Ottavino and criminally underrated long-man Chris Rusin. It’s a bullpen that manager Bud Black may just lean on heavily, with Jon Gray leading a young and exciting but generally unproven rotation, with question marks abound, even with the staff ace himself.

What is more worth addressing with the Rox, though (to this writer at least) is what the team didn’t do this offseason, and that is that they didn’t improve the offense one bit. The team led the NL in runs, yes, but the Rockies essentially always lead the NL in runs. What’s more jarring is that the team had but three above-average hitters by OPS+, and one of them — Reynolds — is not returning to the team, or at least it sure doesn’t look like it. There’s no reason to believe that star third baseman Nolan Arenado will decline, but there are plenty of reasons to believe that Charlie Blackmon’s 2017 season will prove to be his best — chief among those reasons that he’s on the wrong side of 30. Overall, the team’s OPS+ was just 91, meaning that the team’s offense as a whole was 9% worse than league-average. That ranked 11th in the National League.

Now, it’s very possible that Gonzalez’s red-hot September is a sign of better things to come in 2018 after a rough 2017 overall. It’s also possible that Ian Desmond will bounce-back in a big way as well after missing much of the season due to injury, and sweet-swinging lefty Ryan McMahon will adjust to the league seamlessly if he’s handed the reins to first base. However, all of those things would be an added bonus to the Rockies, not something that they should be counting on. It would behoove the team to at least explore options left out there on the market, and there are plenty. Reynolds himself is still out there, as I’ve mentioned. So are Mike Napoli, Adam Lind, Brandon Moss and Matt Holliday. None of those players would be viewed as roadblocks to McMahon’s or Desmond’s or anyone else’s playing time, but rather insurance in the event that one of them falters or is hurt. There’s not much time until Opening Day, but the Rockies should still be on the lookout, even if it’s just looking for some thump on the waiver wire.