The MLB trade deadline is less than a week away. Aside from a move to acquire reliever Will Lamb, a 26-year-old who’s never logged an inning in the majors, the Rockies have stood by quietly so far. But that could change ahead of Monday’s 2 p.m. deadline.
Rockies manager Bud Black said in a radio interview earlier this month, “We’re going to do everything we can to upgrade our ball club.”
Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich also told Jim Bowden earlier this month that if the Rockies were to acquire one thing it would be “some kind of assistance to our bullpen.”
Those comments made it sound like a move could be coming.
It’s apparent the Rockies covet a righty reliever.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported Monday that the Rockies were one of three teams interested in Miami Marlins closer A.J. Ramos.
That would make sense, as the Rockies are in need of a righty who can preserve and pass leads over to closer extraordinaire Greg Holland in the ninth. Adam Ottavino performed well in that eighth-inning role earlier this season, but he’s looked shaky the last two months. His walk rate has climbed all the way past 15 percent, and his ERA has risen from 2.57 on May 29 to 5.66 today.
Ramos could take over that role. He’s posting a 28.1 percent strikeout rate, and opponents are batting just .191 against him. He’s arbitration eligible this summer and will become an unrestricted free agent in 2019.
The Rockies appear to be very interested in Ramos. At the All-Star break, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reported he’d heard Colorado was interested in the 30-year-old. We’ll see how it shakes out.
Adding help at catcher wouldn’t hurt, either.
National baseball writer Jonah Keri suggested the Rockies should poke around for an outfielder who can give the lineup a lift with Carlos Gonzalez and Ian Desmond struggling. That’s not the worst idea, but I’d rather see them go after a catcher who can swing the bat.
Collectively, Colorado’s catchers rank 20th in batting average (.234) and 29th in slugging percentage (.314). Those are abysmal marks — especially for a group that plays half its games at Coors Field.
Tony Wolters has done a nice job of drawing walks this season, but he’s batting .255 and slugging .306. Wolters has eight doubles, one triple and zero home runs. He’s the only player in baseball with at least 190 at bats and 10 or fewer extra base hits. Ryan Hanigan, who’s slashing .257/.312/.357, hasn’t given Colorado much at the plate either.
Alex Avila of the Tigers and Jonathan Lucroy of the Rangers both represent intriguing rental options.
Avila, 30, is enjoying his finest season in years at the plate. He ranks first among all catchers with at least 50 plate appearances in walk rate (16.8 percent) and is 10th in slugging percentage (.488). His price tag could be expensive, though.
Lucroy could be the cheaper option. The 31-year-old Rangers catcher by contrast is having one of his worst seasons in years. His .240 batting average is well below his career average of .280. He’s hit only four home runs this season after blasting 48 of them in the two years combined. Perhaps the Rockies could get him for the stretch run without giving up too much and his numbers might creep back up?
The Rockies should think about the long game above all else.
Bolstering the roster with a reliever, catcher or both would help Colorado improve its already good odds of making the Wild Card Game. But it’s doubtful a deadline addition would help the Rockies catch the Dodgers, who are 11 1/2 games up in the NL West.
The Rockies should do what they can to acquire the help necessary to carry them to the Wild Card game. What they shouldn’t do is give up the farm for a rental.
The Rockies are loaded with young starting pitching talent. This offseason, they’re going to have to worry about Jake McGee and Greg Holland entering free agency. Next summer, Charlie Blackmon and D.J. LeMahieu become unrestricted free agents. Colorado will need its farm system to help plug those potential holes in the years to come.
I’m all for bringing in help to ensure the Rockies qualify for the postseason for the first time in eight years. Blowing a 5 1/2 game lead in the Wild Card race would be disastrous. But so would emptying the reserve clip to improve their World Series odds from microscopic to minuscule.
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