Bill Schmidt didn't waste any time getting to work.
The Colorado Rockies and right-handed pitcher Antonio Senzatela agreed to a five-year, $50.5 million contract extension on Tuesday, according to a source. They also signed C.J. Cron to a two-year deal.
The deal will keep Senzatela with the Rockies until at least 2026, with a club option for 2027, and Cron through 2023. This is the first major move for Schmidt since he was named the general manager on Oct. 2, having the interim tag stripped from his title.
This likely is not all for Schmidt, as the Rockies begin checking things off their offseason to-do list. The team has had discussions with right-handed pitcher Jon Gray, a free agent, according to a source. They are also in the market for a power outfielder and bullpen help.
As for Trevor Story, also a free agent, he said there has been no back and forth between him and the front office yet. They are expected to give him a qualifying offer, but Story is looking for a long-term deal.
These moves though are a good start for Schmidt. Senzatela, 26, signed with the Rockies as an international free agent in 2012. He finished the 2021 season with a 4.42 ERA and has been statistically one of the Rockies more consistent starters.
He had his best season in 2020, when he had a 3.44 ERA in 12 starts during the pandemic-shortened season. He isn't a flashy pitcher, but has found a way to succeed at Coors Field as a a groundball pitcher with his fastball-slider mix.
The Rockies made a similar deal with Germán Márquez two years ago to keep their ace in Colorado long-term. If the Rockies re-sign Gray, this will lock up their rotation until at least 2023. Aside from Austin Gomber, who was traded to the Rockies in February, this rotation has been successfully built from the ground up.
Getting high-caliber free agents to come to Coors Field to pitch at altitude will always be a challenge for the Rockies, so committing to their homegrown talent is a must. This rotation was the backbone of the team in 2021, and their window of opportunity to contend will only be open for as long as this rotation stays intact.
Cron — a first baseman who could also contribute as a designated hitter if that's approved for the National League next year — hit .281 with 28 home runs this season. His home-road splits weren’t great, but got better as the season went on, which ideally will carry into next season. He was also the National League player of the month in August. This move will hold the Rockies over until Michael Toglia, a switch-hitting prospect, is ready to take over the everyday first base job.
It was manager Bud Black that was vocal about getting Cron, 31, to Denver last offseason, having worked with him in Anaheim in 2016. Cron was still just a young infielder at the time who was starting to show traces of power. Cron was a free agent in 2020, after missing most of the season with a knee injury. Black wasn't concerned about the knee, and told his baseball operations team to pursue him. They did, and now they have him at their disposal until at least 2023.