Rockies Mailbag: Can the Rockies hold onto Trevor Story? – The Denver Post

Denver Post sports writer Patrick Saunders with the latest installment of his Rockies Mailbag.

Pose a Rockies — or MLB — related question for the Rockies Mailbag.

Will we attempt to bring D.J. LeMahieu back to the Rockies? Also, will the Rockies keep Trevor Story?
— Michael Hall, Arvada

Michael, I had read speculation that the Rockies might be interested in bringing LeMahieu back to Colorado if the Yankees choose not to re-sign him. So I checked around with those close to LeMahieu and I was told that while he’s keeping his options open, he doesn’t see the Rockies as a good fit for him. The bottom line: I would be shocked if LeMahieu returned.

New York Post baseball columnist Joel Sherman recently wrote about the Yankees’ chances of holding onto LeMahieu. Here’s part of what he wrote:
“My suspicion is the Yankees will make the ($18.8 million) qualifying offer, see if LeMahieu accepts or almost certainly rejects, then make a lower-than-his-value offer– say three years at $48 million ($16 million per year toward the tax payroll) — and say 1) take this, 2) shop the market and see if anyone in this depressed environment will top that, or 3) while you are shopping, we also will be shopping and if we use the money we will pull the offer, so if this is where you truly want to play, then the money could evaporate to keep you here while you are out shopping.”

Interesting.

As for Story, who’s eligible to be a free agent after next season, the Rockies will have to get creative to hold onto him. Owner Dick Monfort has previously said that he wants to sign the shortstop to a long-term deal, but a deal would likely have to happen before the 2021 season begins. Baseball’s new financial landscape makes that difficult.

There is continued speculation that the Rockies will attempt to trade star third baseman Nolan Arenado, but his hefty contract (he’s owed $35 million in 2021) makes a trade problematic. Story is owed $17.5 million next year and he’s two years younger than Arenado, so he would bring back more in return if the Rockies believe they need to retool.

I’m not dodging your question but I honestly don’t know if Story will play for the Rockies in 2021.

Have you heard anything about how the Rockies’ fall instructional league is going? Since there was no minor league baseball this year, do you know how the Rockies are faring when playing other organizations in the instructional league?
— Renee Dechert, Powell, Wyo.

Hi Renee, that’s a great question because without a minor-league season there is an important five weeks for Rockies prospects.

What I do know is that there are 39 players in camp at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, Ariz., including outfielder Zac Veen (Colorado’s top draft pick in 2020); top pitching prospect Ryan Rolison; first base prospect Michael Toglia (Colorado’s top pick in 2019); switch-hitting corner infielder Colton Welker; and right-hander Riley Pint, the fourth overall player selected in the 2016 draft.

Farm director Zach Wilson told me that the instructional league has been going well. The players are staying at the team hotel and are pretty much isolated.

“I’m incredibly proud of how the guys have responded,” Wilson said. “Living in a hotel room for five weeks is not easy, but these guys have been all about baseball. They have been wearing their masks and following the safety protocols. They’ve done an amazing job.”

I just read an article on the Rays organization and how they do things with one of the consistently low payrolls in MLB. Why is it that they can figure things out but our all-knowing owner Dick Monfort cannot figure things out here? I always hear that Monfort hates change and likes stability, which to me is the top reason as to why we will never have a consistent contender. So, in a nutshell, can you show Monfort the article on the Rays organization, highlight some of the main points that he might want to use, and then tell him to use those points or sell?
— Del, Lamar

Well, Del, I don’t think Monfort is going to listen to anything I have to say. Plus, he rarely talks to the media. That’s by design.

As for the idea that the Rockies should follow the Rays’ blueprint, it’s not that simple. Tampa Bay is a unique situation. I point that out in a story I wrote for Wednesday’s Denver Post. Check it out.

Because of the light air it would seem that a knuckleball pitcher would have an advantage here, am I right?
— Carl Struchen, Logan, Utah

Carl, I truthfully never thought about that, probably because knuckleball pitchers are a vanishing breed. My gut tells me that a knuckleball pitcher would struggle in Colorado because the knuckleball, like curveballs and sliders, needs to move a lot in order to be effective. Curveballs and sliders simply don’t move as much at altitude as they do at sea level. I suspect that would be true of knuckleballs, too.

Intrigued by your question, I did a little digging and found a column written by former Denver Post columnist Dave Krieger. He interviewed knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who had this to say about throwing the pitch at altitude:

“I’ve thrown bullpens in Colorado and I pitched in the minor leagues against Colorado Springs as a knuckleballer. It is tougher to throw at those high altitudes because there’s not much humidity for the ball to kind of resist against. At sea level, let’s say in New York, for instance, if I throw a mediocre knuckleball, well, it’s still going to move, it just might not move as sharply or as much. If I throw a mediocre knuckleball in Colorado, it’s going to be a b.p. (batting practice) fastball right down the middle that I’m going to have to either dodge or I’m going to just put my glove up for the umpire to throw me another ball because that one just went 450 feet.”

Dodgers or Rays?
— Marshall, Parker

Marshall, I’m cheating a bit on this topic because the Dodgers already took Game 1 on Tuesday night, but I think the Dodgers will win the World Series in five games. By the way, before the season began, I predicted that the Dodgers and Rays would meet in the World Series.

Patrick, did we miss the boat with the 2017 and 2018 Rockies? I feel like we were just a piece or two away from really making a run at that time. In retrospect, do you think we should have traded Brendan Rodgers for some quality pitching? If it meant a title, I absolutely would have.
— Michael, Castle Rock

Michael, hindsight is 2020 — no pun intended. I don’t think that trading Rodgers was the answer, at least not at that time. Besides, I don’t think it would have meant a title.

I think the franchise’s failure to make any bold moves prior to the 2019 and 2020 seasons are bigger reasons for frustration. It surely is a big reason why Nolan Arenado has become disgruntled. Now, the Rockies’ window to compete seems to have slammed shut and they have to make some major decisions with the players on their roster.

Do we have any high minor-league starting pitching prospects? Outside of Ryan Rolison, I don’t see a whole lot in our farm system. We need another starting pitcher and Coors Field has, to say the least, not been kind to the ones we’ve brought in. Also, is there any chance we sign Kevin Gausman in the offseason? He already knows how to pitch at altitude.

— Ryan, Minneapolis

Ryan, you’re correct when you note that Rolison is an intriguing prospect. After that, it’s pretty sketchy. One pitcher to keep an eye on is right-hander Jose Mujica, who was recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2019. He was just 22 when he reached Triple-A, going 5-1 with a 2.70 ERA for the Durham Bulls in 2018. The Rockies picked him up when the Rays released him.

I mentioned the idea that the Rockies should look into acquiring Gausman in a previous mailbag, though that was purely speculation. The right-hander is an intriguing target, though the Rockies might not have the bucks to land him if the competition heats up.

Gausman, 29, posted a 3.62 ERA and 1.106 WHIP in 59 2/3 innings over 12 appearances (10 starts) with Giants this season. He had 79 strikeouts vs. only 16 walks. That’s encouraging.

The Giants paid him $9 million on a one-year deal, so he might be affordable. Gausman, of course, is a Colorado native and was a star at Grandview High School.

 

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