With a larger payroll, the Rockies' front office has the gift of flexibility this offseason.
Fans in Colorado have become accustomed to offseasons defined by careful spending and insignificant moves.
With another distasteful season under their belts, the Rockies need to determine whether to buy or sell this winter. It’s decision time for Dan O’Dowd and this front office.
Having a payroll that ranks among the lowest in baseball, the Rockies have typically adhered to the “do the most with the least” philosophy. In fact, if you look at ballclubs like Houston, Miami, Chicago and Minnesota, the Rockies have put together some solid teams in comparison.
That being said, the organization is still coming off its third straight losing season. In each one of those seasons, the Rockies have had top-10, playoff-worthy offensive output with very little to show defensively and on the rubber.
With a new regional television deal, the Rockies are expecting increased revenue. The higher payroll will allow the organization to spend a little more this offseason and depend less upon the farm system, according to Thomas Harding of MLB.com.
However, the Rockies still don’t have the luxury to go out and spend frivolously, meaning O’Dowd will have to bite the bullet and work a few deals this offseason.
Michael Cuddyer, Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki are owed a combined $37 million in 2014. The front office will have to look into fixing a back end of the bullpen and acquiring another reliable starting pitcher.
To free up some cap space, the Rockies might want to look into dealing Dexter Fowler, who’s owed $7.35 million in 2014. Fowler is coming off an injury-plagued season and he hit just .221 in the second half. His contract expires after the 2014 season.
At just 27 years old, he could warrant some interest this offseason from teams in the market for a center fielder.
With a slew of relievers pre-arbitration eligible in 2014, this might be a good time to sift out some arms. After the injury to 38-year-old Rafael Betancourt, the Rockies likely will not exercise his $4.25 million option, allotting enough money to bolster the pen.
The same can be said for Matt Belisle, who is beginning to show signs of age and also has a $4.25 million option. He posted an ERA over four in the second half.
The free agent market isn’t great for pitchers in general. So, once again, the Rockies will need to spend wisely.
Jhoulys Chacin, Jorge De La Rosa and Tyler Chatwood are locks for next season’s starting rotation. According to Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post, the back end of the rotation posted an abysmal 7-31 record on the season.
Overall, the Rockies sit in a relatively comfortable financial situation to make some changes this offseason. Fans should absolutely expect a revamped bullpen and be hopeful for another starting pitcher in 2014.