The Colorado Rockies are an interesting team to watch as we progress through spring training and into the start of the regular season, with multiple positions still up for grabs and rookies trying to make the Opening Day Roster.
There was a cloud of uncertainty at first base throughout the offseason for the Rockies. Mark Reynolds still has not been re-signed, so it would appear that the club is comfortable moving forward with a combination of No. 3 prospect Ryan McMahon and prized 2016 free-agent signee Ian Desmond to man first base.
McMahon served an abbreviated stint in the big leagues last season, earning three hits in 19 at-bats with one double and one RBI. After three spring games, McMahon is 3-for-6 with three RBIs two runs scored, a good sign early on. Desmond spent his first season in a Rockies uniform getting used to the transition from the outfield to first base, although he did spend most of his injury-shorted season playing left field. Desmond still needs work at first to become a reliable option, but a bounce-back 2018 season from him can certainly go a long way in helping the Rockies get back to the playoffs in 2018. Depending on how the two perform during the next month, expect to see Desmond spend most of his time back in the outfield and McMahon take over most of the time at first base.
Rockies GM Jeff Bridich made revamping the bullpen his top priority this offseason after free agency left some pretty big holes. The team re-signed Jake McGee and landed former Indians reliever Bryan Shaw, both on three year/$27 million deals. The biggest move came after the Winter Meetings, though, when Bridich inked 3-time All-Star closer Wade Davis to a three year, $52M contract to fill the hole at closer left by Greg Holland. If you add the new guys the Rockies landed this offseason to the already existing corps of reliable relievers the club already had, like Swiss Army Knife Chris Rusin and flamethrower Scott Oberg, this bullpen has the potential to be even better than what the Rockies had in 2017.
Finally, perhaps the most intriguing player to watch during camp is top prospect Brendan Rodgers. Through three spring games, Rodgers is 1-for-5 with a home run and two RBIs. He split the 2017 season in Class-A Advanced and Double-A. Overall, he hit .336/.373/.567 with 18 home runs and 64 RBIs, certainly meriting a call-up. Rodgers is knocking down the door, and while he will probably start the 2018 season in Double-A, it won’t take long for him to make the Triple-A roster. We could be seeing Rodgers’ first shot in the big leagues late this season, especially with incumbent second baseman DJ LeMahieu set to become a free agent after this year.
Expect the Rockies to finish this season with an 87-75 final record; the same as last season. While Bridich made some flashy moves in the bullpen, the rest of the team is largely the same, and second-year manager Bud Black will be relying on a lot of young players to carry the team back to Rocktober for the second year in a row.