Colorado Rockies have been busy this offseason.
While the Boston Red Sox went out and spent large sums of money to bring in Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, the Rockies spent large sums of money to see their two young all-stars stay in Denver for years to come.
Colorado inked deals with Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez this offseason. Tulowitzki was given a 10 year $157 million deal and Gonzalez signed a seven year $80 million deal.
These appear to be solid deals created to lock up the fan favorites and talent for years to come.
While this was a solid move for the fans and it gives the club some stability in left field and short stop for years to come, what does it mean for the organizations future?
The Rockies only have three players signed to a deal that lasts past 2013. Out of all their players, only a handful will still be arbitration eligible. Combined in these three deals in 2014, the Rockies will only have $26 million locked up of their payroll.
The following year, Gonzalez and Tulowitzki will combine for $36 million of the payroll.
Currently, the Rockies’ payroll stands at around $84 million. With current economic trends, it could be very feasible to see Rockies’ owners wanting to see payroll trimmed a little in the future. These two deals lock away half of the Rockies’ payroll into two players.
Which contract is smarter for teams in baseball?
Come 2015, if Ubaldo Jimenez continues to pitch as he has shown, the Rockies organization will look to sign him to a new deal. This could cause the Rockies to have over half the payroll locked up between three players. This will give them very little financial flexibility to attack the free agent market.
This means that a strong farm system will be in the future for the Rockies. Colorado will have to spend a lot of resources and time developing minor league players and drafting solid picks in order to ensure future success.
Position holes will have to be filled with small contracts from players that are either recovering from an injury or are on the backside of their careers. In short, the Rockies will have to become the Oakland Athletics, but with three marquee players.
Currently, Baseball Prospectus rates the Rockies’ farm system as being very well rounded. Unfortunately for the franchise that means they do not have many impact players sitting in the minors. Prospectus ranks only two minor league players as 5-star talent and no 4-star talent. The bulk of the system's talent is in pitching as well.
While these contracts do not spell ultimate doom for the organization in the future, they do appear to be future albatrosses. This stands even more true if either player gets injured. While teams like the Yankees and Red Sox are able to spend on contracts like these and still survive injuries, teams like the Rockies stand to lose a lot if the contracts do not live up to their potential.
For the Rockies, it would have been smarter to build deals like the Jimenez deal for Gonzalez and Tuloitwzki. Four year deals with club or mutual options are the way to go for organizations outside of the top three in payroll.
Only time will tell for the Rockies on whether these contracts will effect the organization like the Todd Helton and Mike Hampton deals. Hopefully these fair better.