Phillies Rockies Baseball

Colorado Rockies general manager Bill Schmidt, right, talks with manager Bud Black before a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Monday, April 18, 2022, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER • The Rockies have, for years, been adamant they do not need a rebuild. 

There's plenty of evidence that tearing it all down works. The Astros did it, then went to the World Series in three out of the past five seasons. But the Rockies are, once again, still holding onto their belief they don't need to start over, despite their last place standing. 

"I believe in these guys," general manager Bill Schmidt said in Phoenix last weekend. "We realize some of our young guys are coming and are going to eventually help us. We have some guys here who are going to be with us going forward. People want us to trade guys, but the people they want us to trade are the guys that want to stay here."

That philosophy, however, only works if they are able to make deals with those players. Last year at the deadline, the Rockies kept Jon Gray after both sides expressed interest in a contract extension. Schmidt said they didn't get any offer that would have made trading Gray worthwhile. But they weren't able to sign Gray either, and the Rockies were left with nothing in return. 

With the trade deadline less than two weeks away, the Rockies once again find themselves out of contention and with valuable assets they could use to help bolster their farm system. 

"No," Schmidt said when asked if they expect to be big sellers at the deadline. "We'll see what happens."

Trade candidates 

Shortstop José Iglesias, reliever Alex Colomé, starter Chad Kuhl, closer Daniel Bard and reliever Carlos Estévez will all enter free agency at the end of the season. First baseman CJ Cron has one year left on his contract. 

Realistically, Iglesias and Colomé are the top candidates to be traded. Iglesias has been playing well enough to warrant a decent return, hitting .296 at a premium position. They don't need Iglesias for their future — Ezequiel Tovar already has major league ready defense and is seen as their long-term shortstop. He's improved by leaps and bounds at the plate this season, excelling in Double-A in a good pitching league. 

Cron and Bard could also be valuable assets on the market, but the odds of the team shopping them aren't great. Cron is having a career year, hitting 20 home runs in the first half and being named to his first All-Star team. There are plenty of teams who could use a power hitter like him, but he is under contract until for another full season. 

Bard, meanwhile, has been one of the best closers in the league this season. But, knowing the Rockies, if they think they have a chance of extending him they likely won't trade him. As of now, a deal is not close.

As for Kuhl, he's been the Rockies' best starter this season, a comeback year for the right-hander after Tommy John surgery in 2020. Every team needs a solid starter, but Kuhl is another one they could hold onto with hopes of extending him. There's been no talks between the two sides on that yet, though. 

"I would love to be here for multiple years," Kuhl said. "I don't want to be the guy that bounces around from team to team."

Biggest needs 

The Rockies do have a group of young players rising through the system who could be valuable assets to them in the future. Outfielders Zac Veen and Benny Montgomery, Tovar, first baseman Michael Toglia and catcher Drew Romo are among those who could be big contributors in the next few years. But having talent in the field does them no good if their pitching can't keep up, and right now their minor league system is depleted of that.

They do have four starters — Germán Márquez, Antonio Senzatela, Kyle Freeland and Austin Gomber — locked up until at least 2024, with Senzatela and Freeland in Colorado until 2028. But a team needs more than four to get the job done, and getting top free agent pitchers to come pitch at altitude has always been a challenge. 

They put stock in Peter Lambert and Ryan Rolison, who have both been their top pitching prospects at times. Both are missing third straight seasons, and their comeback roads are complicated. Lambert is still having trouble getting back after Tommy John surgery in 2020. He's made just one Triple-A start this year and is now shut down again after a PRP injection. Ryan Rolison had season-ending shoulder surgery last month. Their next generation isn't doing much better. Sam Weatherly, Chris McMahon, Helcris Olivarez and Jaden Hill have yet to get their seasons going, pushing back their timelines an entire season.

As for position players, the Rockies could use quality players at any position, but especially a quality center fielder and more depth for the middle of the infield. 

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