2011 MLB Free Agency: Recapping the Colorado Rockies Early-Offseason Moves

Josh BurtonContributor IIIDecember 10, 2011

SS Troy Tulowitzki, the face of the Rockies franchise
SS Troy Tulowitzki, the face of the Rockies franchiseJack Dempsey/Getty Images

The Colorado Rockies are a team in a state of flux right now. In July, the team traded its star starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez to the Cleveland Indians, getting prized prospects in return such as starting pitchers Alex White and Drew Pomeranz. Until these guys and other prospects progress to the major league level, this team just won't be very good, especially on the pitching front.

The Rockies still have some talent in the lineup, namely in franchise shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and aging veteran Todd Helton. But other than those two players, there just isn't much else. GM Dan O'Dowd set out this offseason to make the Rockies better in the short-term as a bridge to the players who are a few years away from the big league club.

Here is a look at some of the transactions the team has made:


Traded Ty Wigginton

On Nov. 20, the Rockies traded utility man Ty Wigginton to the Philadelphia Phillies for player to be named later or cash. This wasn't the biggest of trades by the Rockies, but it was still a significant one at the least.

Wigginton is the kind of player that all teams want—a guy willing to play multiple positions who can drive in runs at a consistent clip. That is why this trade was puzzling, because the Rockies need offense and Wigginton was able to provide that last year with 15 home runs and 47 RBI in only 401 at-bats. The only way this trade makes sense is if the Rockies did it just to save some money and help them get under the luxury tax threshold.







Traded Chris Iannatta

On Nov. 30, Colorado traded C Chris Iannetta to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for SP Tyler Chatwood. In this trade and the subsequent signing of Ramon Hernandez, the Rockies got their starting catcher for next year and a young pitcher at the age of 21 whose ceiling is sky-high. The Rockies had been shopping Iannetta for a while, and the fact that they were able to get a promising pitching prospect in return for him was shrewd management by O'Dowd.

Chatwood's rookie season stats don't look great—six wins and 11 losses with a 4.75 ERA—but they can be explained by the fact that he pitched 142 innings in his first major league season and was burnt out by season's end.


Signed C Ramon Hernandez



Hernandez was signed as a response to the Iannetta trade and will most likely be the Rockies' opening day starter behind the plate. Last season with the Cincinnati Reds in a part-time role, the 35-year-old Hernandez hit for a solid .282 average with 12 home runs and 36 RBI while splitting time with Ryan Hanigan. He may be old, but Hernandez is still a solid, reliable backstop who can deal with pitchers well and can drive in runs and get on base.









Traded minor-league RP Daniel Turpen

Coming off of a dreadful season in which he went 0-8 with a plus-6.00 ERA, Slowey was picked up off of the scrap heap by the Rockies for minor-league RP Daniel Turpen in a trade with the Twins. Last season was an aberration for Slowey, as he fell victim to being on a terrible Twins team which finished last in their division. From 2008-2010, Slowey went a combined 35-20, showing that he is a much better pitcher than he was last year. Slowey will fight for a rotation spot with the Rockies and might even end up in the bullpen for long relief help.



Traded RP Huston Street



In the biggest move the Rockies have made so far this offseason, Colorado traded its young standout closer to the rival Padres for a player to be named later. The Rockies had been openly shopping Street for a few seasons now, and it's relatively surprising that they were only able to get a PTBNL for a young closer with 178 career saves and a career ERA of 3.11 through only seven seasons.







Traded 3B Ian Stewart and minor league RP Casey Weathers



The Rockies' most recent offseason move included four players who were drafted in the first two rounds of the MLB Draft but who just couldn't put it together with their former teams. 3B Ian Stewart and minor league RP Casey Weathers were traded to the Cubs for OF Tyler Colvin and IF DJ LeMahieu, the lone second-round pick involved in the trade.



The main players involved in the trade, Stewart and Colvin, are talented guys but were sent down to Triple-A from their big-league clubs for extended periods last season, and it was clear the organizations they were a part of were willing to give up on them.


Stewart, who hit 25 home runs and compiled 70 RBI in his career year of 2009, was drafted to be the Rockies' longtime third baseman, and he played like it in the beginning of his career. However, 2010 was a down statistical year for Stewart, and last season was simply terrible as he spent most of the year at Triple-A Colorado Springs and didn't even hit a home run with the Rockies in 48 games with the big league club.

Colvin was drafted by the Cubs to be their longtime right fielder, but like with Stewart, that plan didn't come to fruition. Colvin still has a lot of potential, as he has only played close to one and a half seasons in the big leagues.

He has a lot of power, but Colvin's main problem at the plate is simply getting on base, as his career OBP is a mere .274, which is dreadful. All in all, it was a solid trade for both teams, with four players that needed a change of scenery.


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