Jon Gray took pride in being able to pitch well at altitude. 

The battle to constantly adjust his pitches. The mental toughness it required. He embraced all of it, so much so that he ended up pitching better at Coors Field last season than he did on the road. 

"When success happens, it just feels good to know you did it in the toughest conditions, it's just really rewarding," Gray said at the end of the season, when he felt confident that he and the Rockies were going to work out a deal. "I could go somewhere else and have better numbers, but I take pride in doing well here."

Gray made his intentions very clear: he wanted to stay with the Rockies. And his team stated that they wanted him back, keeping him at the trade deadline in an effort to work out a long-term deal with their most experienced starter.

Rockies Dodgers Baseball

Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jon Gray throws to the plate during the first inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers Sunday, July 25, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

They started extension talks in July. But, despite Gray's desire to stay in Colorado and the Rockies head start, they weren't able to lock down a deal. Gray instead signed with the Rangers earlier this week on a four-year, $55 million deal. 

Gray had been a fixture in the Rockies rotation since 2015. Now, the Rockies are left without one of their stalwart starters. 

Getting a free-agent pitcher to agree to pitch at Coors Field in the middle of their career is no easy task, and would likely require the Rockies being willing to spend big money to woo one of the remaining available to starters. Trades are viable options, with the Reds and the Athletics among the teams reportedly making players available. 

The Rockies missed out on the first wave of free agency, signing only players who were on their active roster last season. Now MLB is in a lockdown, with all transactions frozen for the foreseeable future. 

So what now for the Rockies rotation? Here's what their current options are: 

The locks

Germán Márquez, Antonio Senzatela, Kyle Freeland and Austin Gomber are locks. Márquez and Senzatela both received extensions and are under contract until 2025 and 2028, respectively. Freeland and Gomber won't become free agents until 2024 and 2025. While one of these four could be a prized part of a potential trade — the Rockies are especially in the market for a power-hitting outfielder — it's not likely that the Rockies would be willing to part with any of them. 

Peter Lambert

If they don't acquire another pitcher, Peter Lambert will be in line for the fifth spot. Lambert dazzled in his debut in 2019, allowing one run in seven innings. Things didn't go as smoothly after that, and he finished with a 7.25 ERA in 19 starts. 

Then came Tommy John surgery, knocking him out for the 2020 season. He returned at the tail end of last year, sneaking in two starts. More importantly, he finished the year healthy and will have a normal offseason, meaning he should be ready to go once spring training begins. 

Ryan Rolison and Ryan Feltner 

The Rockies added Rolison to the 40-man roster recently, protecting him from the Rule 5 draft (which now, it appears, is not happening after the Winter Meetings were cancelled). Feltner made his debut in September, getting thrown into the fire to replace Gomber, who's season ended early because of injury. Both are untested and could use more time in Triple-A. But both could also be a fill-in starter when needed. 

Long relievers 

Ashton Goudeau — fresh off his winding journey around the league that saw him on six different rosters in less than a year — seems to have found his place with the Rockies. He's spending the offseason in Colorado, and was working out at Coors Field with Márquez until the lockdown prohibited players from entering team facilities and working with league employees. Goudeau was used as a starter, long reliever and setup man last season. Another option is Jhoulys Chacín, who re-signed with the Rockies on a $1.25 million deal. He was a starter for most of his career and began the season as a long man before transitioning to a reliever last season. 

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