The Rockies will have all three of their superstars next season—and that’s all that matters to Colorado fans right now. But, as we inch closer to the dreaded winter of 2014, when Carlos Gonzalez and Ubaldo Jimenez are eligible to become free agents, the upcoming decisions are weighing heavy on GM Dan O’Dowd’s mind.
O’Dowd has begun talks with Gonzalez’s agent, Scott Boras, on a seven-year deal, worth something less than $100 million according to mlbtraderumors.com. Even though CarGo has only had one season worthy of this type of contract, it makes sense for the Rockies to go after a player who has not yet proved himself as an elite outfielder.
If Gonzalez keeps up his numbers for the next couple years, which is most likely, he will be worth at least $20 million per year when he becomes eligible for free agency in 2014.
If they can lock Gonzalez up now, his contract would probably give him somewhere between $8 million and $14 million per year.
On the flip side, Gonzalez could fizzle out with the comfort of a huge contract. If he for some reason can’t produce similar numbers again, it would be a real shame for Colorado if O’Dowd invests something over $60 million on the outfielder this winter.
Unlike with Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado fans aren’t quite sure how badly Gonzalez wants to remain on the Rockies. The biggest clue we have is this statement by owner Dick Monfort:
“Well, I haven't talked directly with Carlos, but I know he likes it here. And as a player, I would like to know that Troy Tulowitzki is going to be hitting behind me forever.”
Not too convincing, since Monfort’s only speculating. But as a player, it would be nice to have Tulo behind you in the order. However, Gonzalez is represented by Scott Boras, notorious for getting his clients every last penny.
O’Dowd is uncertain about CarGo wanting to stay in the Mile High City. On denverpost.com, he said, “CarGo is under out control through 2014 and we do have a desire to keep him here for the long term. So we will have to address that at some point and time. But it is a two-way street. There needs to be a strong desire on both sides to work something out. We certainly hope there is.” (Click here for the full story)
If CarGo is that serious about staying in Colorado and doesn’t necessarily need the highest salary possible, he probably would have a different agent.
Dan O’Dowd will no doubt go hard to sign this high-risk, high-reward contract. He understands that this current team gives Colorado the better chance of winning than any other team in Rockies' history (he’s added pieces like Ty Wiggington and Jose Lopez, players he normally wouldn’t sign if he didn’t think the Rockies had a good chance the next season).
However, this current window of opportunity can be extended much further if CarGo signs with the team long-term. The farm system is chalk-full of elite pitching prospects, and it includes a few decent infielders. However, the outfield talent in the system is lacking. Kyle Parker is the standout, but he hasn’t played a professional game yet. Charles Blackmon is good, as is Tim Wheeler, but they don’t posses Gonzalez-caliber numbers or even Seth Smith-esque potential.
With Ubaldo Jimenez and Carlos Gonzalez possibly cashing in big time in the next few years, this winter will be a critical time for the future of the ballclub. We all know they can be good until 2014 (when Jimenez and Gonzalez are eligible for free agency), but CarGo will be 29 and still in the prime of his career by then (weird to think we have at least four more seasons with this guy. I’m looking forward to it). Ubaldo will be 30, still capable of producing Cy Young numbers. Those two contracts could cost the team close to $200 million by that time.
For now, the main goal for the front office should be putting on a playoff team for 2011. However, if O’Dowd can’t lock up Gonzalez and Jimenez soon, the Monforts may have to cough up an extra $100 million later, or worse, say goodbye to one or both come 2014.
You can follow me on twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/charlie123517