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Rockies Journal: Assessing big-money players for a team in transition


The Rockies are facing an extreme makeover.

Regardless of whether general manager Bill Schmidt and the front office can swing any more deals before Tuesday’s trade deadline, the team will look much different in 2024.

Starting Outfielders Randal Grichuk and Jurickson Profar, and first baseman C.J. Cron won’t be back. Franchise icon Charlie Blackmon’s six-year, $108 million contract comes to an end after this season, too. The 37-year-old designated hitter/outfielder has been tight-lipped about his future.

Veteran relievers Brent Suter and Brad Hand are likely gone, too. The Rockies have explored a contract extension with Suter, but there are no guarantees the two sides will come together. The Rockies hold a $7 million club option for Hand next season, so he’ll be gone, too.

The starting rotation, decimated by injuries, will have to be reconfigured. Veteran right-handers German Marquez and Antonio Senzatela, both of whom have undergone Tommy John surgery, might not be ready to pitch at all in 2024.

Colorado holds a $16.5 million option on Marquez’s contract for 2024. There is a $2.5 million buyout. Marquez’s future in Colorado is uncertain, but the Rockies will explore a club-friendly contract extension. Marquez, however, might want to see if the grass is greener away from Coors Field.

Given all of that change, here is an assessment of the key, most expensive players on the 2024 roster:

LHP Kyle Freeland: The Denver native signed a five-year, $64.5 million contract extension in April 2022.

Freeland just might be the fiercest competitor on the team. But he’s also been forced to evolve as a pitcher, and his 4.79 ERA and 1.477 WHIP indicate that he’s struggling with that. More than ever, the lefty must be a finely-tuned technician because his average fastball velocity is down to just 88.6 mph, according to Fangraphs. That’s 4 mph slower than when he made his debut in 2017.

OF Kris Bryant:  The veteran is currently on the injured list with a broken left index finger. It’s Bryant’s fifth stint on the IL since signing a seven-year, $182 million contract in the spring of 2022. He’s played in only 40% of Colorado’s games.

Until Bryant gets healthy — and proves he can stay healthy — it’s difficult to assess what kind of player he is at age 31. But after 107 games with the Rockies, he’s hit only 13 homers, driven in 37 runs, and has an OPS+ of 102. Bryant has not been the star player (or presence) that Dick Monfort was hoping for when he pursued the 2016 National League MVP.

3B Ryan McMahon: After a terrible slump to begin the season, McMahon has played relatively well. Over his last 50 games, he’s slashing .291/.377/.531 with 12 homers, seven doubles, two triples, 11 home runs and 29 RBIs. That’s the type of production the Rockies were looking for when they signed McMahon to a six-year, $70 million deal in March 2022.

But there are some disappointing numbers, too. His 31% strikeout rate is the highest of his career and he’s hitting just .200 with runners in scoring position.

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