Rockies' fan-favorite Connor Joe is on the move.
Colorado traded Joe to the Pirates on Sunday, sending him back to the team that drafted him 39th overall in 2014. In return, the Rockies get minor league RHP Nick Garcia, who made 23 starts in High-A last season.
Joe was beloved in Colorado from his first at-bat at Coors Field. He missed all of the 2020 season while undergoing treatment for testicular cancer, then signed a minor league contract with the Rockies prior to the 2021 season. He almost made the team out of spring training, but instead started the year in Triple-A before getting a call-up mid-season.
Fans immediately fell for him, chanting 'Joe, Joe, Joe' every time he came up to hit. He stuck with the team in the second half of the 2021 season, and was their leadoff hitter at the start of the 2022 year. He impressed with his patience at the plate, hitting .270 with an on-base percentage of .370 in the first half of the season.
Then things started to drift away from him. He had just 18 hits in 37 games in the second half of the season, ending his season on the injured list.
"I think if I were able to put my finger on it, I'd be able to make the adjustment," Joe told The Denver Gazette at the end of the season when asked what changed. "I don't know."
Joe's spot on the team was going to be in jeopardy out of camp, and it didn't make a whole lot of sense for the Rockies to keep him, despite his options, with the other young talent they have. Sean Bouchard, who impressed in September, fills a very similar role as Joe. Michael Toglia can play both first base and the outfield — the same positions as Joe — with better success at the plate. Plus, top prospects Zac Veen and Brenton Doyle are both on their way up.