As we approach the heart of the Major League Baseball offseason, the Colorado Rockies sill desperately need to address particular weaknesses that plagued their franchise a season ago.
The acquisition of LaTroy Hawkins on Friday has bolstered a bullpen that struggled to close out games, but there’s indisputably more to be done on that front.
GM Dan O’Dowd, who holds the keys to a successful bounce-back in 2014, needs to consider making some statement moves and signings over the next few weeks. Then, and only then, does the franchise have a chance at piecing together a competitive roster.
Here are some options the front office should consider.
Left-Handed Starting Pitcher: Trade for Jaime Garcia
The market for left-handed starting pitching, whether that is via trade or free agency, is one of the worst in recent memory. However, for the Rockies, it’s an area that needs to be addressed.
Cardinals lefty Jaime Garcia, is entering the second year of a four-year/$27 million deal and coming off season-ending shoulder surgery. With a collection of young guns on the roster, including postseason superstars Michael Wacha and Shelby Miller, the Cardinals might be interested in dealing Garcia for the right package.
Garcia has posted a sub-four ERA in each of his first full seasons in the bigs. He has the ability to consistently give his team six solid innings each start.
There’s significant risk in signing a pitcher coming off shoulder surgery, but it’s a risk O’Dowd should consider.
The Rockies and Cardinals discussed the idea of possibly moving Troy Tulowitzki at this year’s GM/Owner’s meetings. Nothing ever came of it. However, the Rockies have the talent in the farm system to piece together a solid package if they were to shoot for Garcia. They also have the allotted revenue to cover a contract of that size.
Power-Hitting First Baseman or Outfielder: Trade for Adam Dunn
Slugger Adam Dunn, and the thin air of Denver is a tantalizing combination the Rockies should not sweep under the rug.
The White Sox, who will likely re-sign first baseman Paul Konerko this winter, will likely be looking to move Dunn after a disappointing season at the dish.
Dunn batted just .219, but still managed to slug 34 homers and knock in 86 RBI. Playing in Coors Field, those numbers would certainly be inflated.
Dunn is also entering the last year of his four-year/$56 million deal, making him an even more likely candidate to be dealt.
With talent like Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer surrounding Dunn, Walt Weiss could essentially bat him further down in a lineup, thus taking some of the pressure off.
The White Sox are desperate to restock their farm system and would gladly welcome a prospect package in return.
With Dunn’s ability to play the outfield and first, Weiss would also have flexibility in determining the positioning of Cuddyer and Dunn in spring training.
Reliever: Trade Dexter Fowler, Prospect to Mariners for Relievers
Jon Morosi of Fox Sports says the Mariners have shown interest in acquiring outfielder Dexter Fowler from the Rockies.
Who could the Rockies get in return?
Left-handed reliever Charlie Furbush is exactly what the Rockies need at this point. Furbush is durable, and he posted a 3.74 ERA last season with 80 strikeouts. He worked as a lefty specialist and a late-inning go-to option.
If the Rockies chose to throw a high-end prospect into the deal as well, they also might be able to land righty Tom Wilhelmsen. Wilhelmsen has a great deal of experience in the closer’s role.
Wilhelmsen was dismissed from the role and sent to Triple-A Tacoma in August. However, he’s proven over the last few seasons he’s capable of being an above average arm in the ninth.
After a poor finish to the 2013 season, Wilhelmsen ended with a 4.12 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 59 innings.
Should the Rockies deal Fowler to strengthen the bullpen?
Adding both arms would be an instant upgrade to the pen and keep them from blowing late-game leads.
A bullpen consisting of Hawkins, Rex Brothers, Matt Belisle, Furbush and Wilhelmsen would arguably give them the upper hand in the division in that respect.
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