Kendrys Morales could be a viable option to replace Helton at first.
Talk about a change in philosophy. The Colorado Rockies seem to be immersed neck-deep in a pool of trade rumors and are primed to pull off some unprecedented moves this offseason.
While Dan O’Dowd and this front office are prepared to open up their checkbook, they remain animated about preserving their core. Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, who were subjects of unverified trade rumors regarding the Cardinals last week, are not going anywhere, according to Troy Renck of The Denver Post.
For a trade of that scale to ever happen, the Cardinals would likely have to give up Michael Wacha and Shelby Miller, something the team is reluctant to do.
The Rockies’ front office will be big players in the free-agent market this offseason, but who are they aiming for?
Here are a handful of moves the Rockies could actually pull off this winter.
The Rockies have made a play at free-agent backstop Carlos Ruiz, according to Troy Renck of The Denver Post.
Ruiz, who is known for his reliable defense and fairly decent bat, was offered a two-year deal worth $15 million that included an option.
It’s a relatively safe move for a team looking for longevity out of their superstar catcher Wilin Rosario. If signed, Ruiz would likely get the majority of the playing time behind the dish. There’s a chance Rosario could end up at first base or even right field, splitting time at both positions with Michael Cuddyer.
Last season, Ruiz batted .268, his lowest average since 2009, with five home runs and 37 RBI. At 34 years old, the Rockies didn’t make this move for his bat. Ruiz threw out 25 percent of runners last season, allowing just four passed balls from a Phillies pitching staff that really struggled at times.
Ruiz should be able to provide a little extra support for a young and largely unproven Rockies pitching staff going forward.
Like Ruiz, Hudson is a safe bet for the Rockies. Don’t be surprised if the Rockies make an offer in the two-year, $28 million range.
The 38-year-old right-hander has been one of the most consistent and underappreciated starting pitchers over the last 15 years. Over the last four seasons, Hudson strung together a 57-33 record with a 3.33 ERA and 494 strikeouts.
The most important quality Hudson can contribute to the Rockies is his ground-ball efficiency. In the high altitude of Coors Field, ground-ball pitchers are a priority. He would fit nicely into this Rockies rotation.
Injury notwithstanding, Brian Wilson has been a thorn in the Rockies' side for the last decade.
This offseason, Wilson could find his way to his third NL East team in the last three seasons. The Rockies posted the third-worst bullpen ERA in baseball at 4.23. Guys like Wilton Lopez, Adam Ottavino and even Matt Belisle struggled to close out games down the stretch.
In 16.2 innings since coming back from injury (including playoffs), Wilson allowed just one run and looked sharp. Sure, he’s not going to be the Wilson of old, but there’s a good chance the Rockies could land him for an economical price.
His velocity is also right where it should be. His fastball is looking more dynamic than ever, topping out at 95-96 on the gun.
The energy Wilson brings to a clubhouse is also something that cannot be overlooked. While he’s undoubtedly not the primary reason for their struggles, the Giants posted a losing record for the first time since 2008. When injected into a Dodgers clubhouse, Don Mattingly’s team came alive.
Teams can spend all they want, but the most important and incalculable statistic of chemistry remains. Wilson brings that.
Free agent Aussie reliever Grant Balfour is being targeted by the Rockies this offseason, according to Troy Renck of The Denver Post.
Balfour was dominant in the closer’s role last season, posting a 2.59 ERA and a career-high 38 saves.
The 35-year-old has only improved with age over the years and seemed to flourish in Oakland.
The Rockies need a closer. Last month, the team declined Rafael Betancourt’s option due to a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament.
Rex Brothers, one of the only lefties left in the Rockies’ pen, seems better suited in a setup or late-inning reliever role. Brothers posted an outstanding 1.74 ERA last season, but actually had a higher ERA when given the opportunity to close a game.
Balfour would provide that consistent rock at the back of the bullpen.
Free-agent first baseman Kendrys Morales serves as the most tantalizing and potentially beneficial move the Rockies can make this offseason.
Morales hit .277 with 23 homers and 80 RBI last season, numbers that will certainly inflate in the thin air of Coors Field.
The Rockies are also in desperate need of a lefty after Todd Helton’s retirement. Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler serve as the only starters capable of hitting left-handed.
Morales could be that middle-of-the-lineup bat the Rockies need to take their already formidable offense to the next level.
The signing would also allow Cuddyer to stay in right field and give the Rockies even more of a reason to shop Fowler for some much-needed pitching.
Expect the Rockies to make Morales an offer in the coming weeks.
Follow me on Twitter @cucch22