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Looking at potential Rockies-Indians trade fits

Looking at potential Rockies-Indians trade fits
Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez (Photo: AP)
November 10, 2014
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For a bad team, the Colorado Rockies have been in the news a lot of late.

They made a change at the top with the retirement of former Cleveland Indians front office member Dan O’Dowd. In his fifteen years as general manager the Rockies made the playoffs only twice and spent the last four years under .500. Their minor league system has improved, but it has been a bad run for the Rockies.

Next they made headlines when they offered Michael Cuddyer a qualifying offer. This was so surprising that the response on Twitter was almost comical. Now, no one is going to sign Cuddyer and there is no way he does not accept that offer. Yes, two years ago he had the best average in the National League, but last year was injury plagued and he will be 36 next year. I’m not sure how anyone thinks he could be worth anything approaching $15 million.

This offer does make a weird amount of sense though, and it shows how the game has changed. Most teams would rather pay $15 million on a gamble for one year than give a two year deal like the Indians gave Murphy. If Cuddyer rebounds he becomes a trade asset, if he is awful well it’s just one year and then he is off the books. Plus, remember Denver is a stronger market than Cleveland, which allows them to spend more freely on a high-priced one year gamble.

The other interesting issue with this offer is the Rockies were already a team with too many outfielders. Carlos Gonzalez is a multi-time All-Star. Charlie Blackmon had a very good year in center field and even made the All-Star team. Corey Dickerson had a nice year. Drew Stubbs got over 400 plate appearances and had a great bounce back year with an OPS over .800. But if you are paying Cuddyer $15 million, he is starting in right field.

This is a team with four legit starting outfielders, and with Justin Morneau having a bounce back year the Rockies are also set at first. As a matter of fact they are set everywhere in the lineup. Their second baseman DJ LeMahieujust won a Gold Glove and so did their third baseman Nolan Arenado. Plus they have the top shortstop in all of baseball in Troy Tulowitzki. Even their catcher Wilin Rosario is a solid player at his position offensively.

This is a team that is set on offense. Soon they have three pitchers with front of the rotation upside coming up through the minors, so on paper this should be a team on the rise.

Yet it is also clear they are building for the long term future with the news that broke just this past week. It was leaked that the Rockies are willing to talk about moving Tulowitzki and Gonzalez, their only high-priced stars.

When this was announced I immediately starting getting questions about both players. Now the reason the Rockies want to move on is the money both are owed. The next three years they will cost the Rockies close to $40 million per year. They have a good minor league system and with a new GM he wants to build his own team.

I figured I would tackle each of these guys, then bring up a player that no one is talking about who should be on the Indians radar as well.

As a quick side note before I continue, man, how bad did the Stubbs deal work out for the Indians? Stubbs was let go so the Indians could go get Murphy. The drop off between the two defensively was huge. Josh Outman ended up bringing no value at all to the Indians. They would have been better off holding onto Stubbs. This was a rare blown trade by the front office.

Now onto the Rockies players….

Troy Tulowitzki, SS

I should start out by saying the Indians won’t be chasing Tulo. His contract is too long and expensive. So I just wanted to write a quick paragraph praising a guy who never gets enough. Yes, there are injury concerns but when healthy he is one of the top three to five players in the league.

He is a 5-6 win shortstop who excels in the field and at the plate. Yes, he has steep splits, but he still has an OPS well over .800 on the road. His career road OPS would have led all shortstops this year in OPS. So it’s not really a major detraction and should not be used to hurt his value.

A .900 OPS, 20 home run guy and Gold Glove defender would be valuable anywhere. That is an All-Star at any position. At shortstop that value is unbelievable. Really, I would put him with Clayton Kershaw and Mike Trout as the top three players in the league in terms of team value.

It will be interesting to see the cost if they do trade Tulo. If they are willing to trade within their division, the Dodgers have several top shelf prospects that would be interesting. Another team that would also make sense in terms of prospect depth is the Rangers. This would personally be my favorite team to see get Tulo, just so I could conceivably see Joey Gallo in Colorado down the road.

Carlos Gonzales, LF

I have gotten the most questions about the man affectionately known as CarGo. I find it amusing to a degree, because he is not what I hear most fans claiming they want - but the moment his name came up I was flooded with questions about him.

CarGo is a left-handed hitter who doesn’t hit a ton of home runs and that is playing in Colorado. He has averaged 27 homers a year if I don’t count his injury plagued year or early seasons. This is just counting his peak years. His OPS has a 200+ point drop on the road versus at home, and of those points 170 are slugging. This makes me worried he would struggle to hit 20 home runs in Cleveland. On a side note, he is also scheduled to make $53 million over the next three years – which that in itself probably put him out of any consideration for the Indians.

There are positives to consider though. Gonzalez is a multi-time Gold Glove winner, though his defense WAR is closer to average. Even if you look at his OPS on the road for his career it is still a respectable .750. If he had an OPS of .750 this year it would have been 14th among left fielders. I know its middle of the pack, but that would have placed him right between Brett Gardner and Yoenis Cespedes.

In many ways the player he resembles to me outside of Colorado would be a more athletic and powerful pre-breakout Michael Brantley. The question is, are you willing to pay a guy like that an average of near $18 million a year and pay prospects for him?

I am not. I think most fans think CarGo has more power than he has or don’t realize the money he is owed. The big issue for me is the big money along with the high price tag to acquire him.

Kyle Parker 1B/OF

So here is my sleeper player who is buried in all the Rockies depth. Kyle Parker is a big, athletic right-handed bat who has shown solid power in the minors.

I actually remember watching Parker get drafted in 2010 and it was the most shocking first round selection. The reason was he was more known on the football field than the baseball diamond and he was viewed as an unsignable player.

Parker started his freshman and sophomore year at quarterback for Clemson. He was seen as someone who could have had a potential future in the NFL. This was before Clemson was a major power, but still a respectable bowl bound every year team. This shows a degree of athleticism and quick twitch skills to be able to play quarterback on that level.

Fun fact on Parker: he was the first player to hit 20 home runs and throw 20 touchdown passes in one year.

Parker was a very interesting signing because as a major college quarterback he had never concentrated on baseball. The last four years have been the first time he ever has done that in his life. He has never been a top 100 prospect but has always produced. He had his worst season this past year in Colorado Springs, a major hitter’s park. It was the first time he hadn’t hit 20+ home runs in a year or posted an OPS over .800. He hit 15 home runs with a .786 OPS so it was still respectable in spite of being nearly three years younger than the league’s average age.

Parker has been used more and more at first base, but he has also played a lot of corner outfield in the minors. He definitely has the arm to play there. I mean, could he be any more of an adventure in the outfield than Ryan Raburn was for the Indians last year. He could fill that Raburn role for the Indians and be younger and cheaper.

Parker even fits the mold of what the Indians look for in younger players. They have often drafted with an eye toward bat speed, which Parker displays in games. A lot of his power is thanks to this bat speed and how quickly he can turn on pitches. On top of this, for his minor league career he has a 2.3 to one strikeout to walk ratio, which is solid. As a comparison, the rate of Zach Walters who was known as an unrepentant hacker was 3.8 to one during his minor league career.

Parker is ready for the majors. Yet he is about seventh on the outfield depth chart for the Rockies. He could be viewed as the long term first baseman for the Rockies, but I think that is shaping up to be Ryan McMahon. I think McMahon is a better thought of prospect who ends up at first when Morneau retires or is traded since he is blocked at third.

I know fans like names and All-Stars and will dream on Tulowitzki and Gonzalez as possibilities for the Indians, but a smart name to remember when it comes to the Rockies is the former Clemson quarterback turned right-handed power hitter, Kyle Parker.

Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffmlbdraft, or email him at jellis121@yahoo.com

User Comments

Terry
November 11, 2014 - 9:04 AM EST
With the qualifier that I haven't seen Parker play since college, he always seemed like a guy who would have trouble with good breaking stuff. He was very raw then but just didn't seem to have the eye. Looked like a K machine in the making. That was then, though.
Seth
November 10, 2014 - 8:02 PM EST
Could be that they are already pursuing other free agents with compensation attached and expect to forfeit the pick one way or another.
Tony
November 10, 2014 - 6:13 PM EST
Check that. Mets first round pick is not protected. Poor move if you ask me.
Tony
November 10, 2014 - 5:27 PM EST
Interesting signing for the Mets. I haven't looked at the draft order, but believe Mets are in top 10 in first round so it is a protected pick. Which means they only lose their second rounder.
Tondo
November 10, 2014 - 5:23 PM EST
Cuddyer to Mets? Haha, from Coors to Citi? Good luck with that. Teams in pitchers park try to outmuscle their park with power. Maybe they should look how the Giants handle that.

That's great news for the Indians though, as apparently they really don't value an OBP guy with just decent power like Campbell as an every day option. He should come cheap. Maybe ask for Niese too.
Seth
November 10, 2014 - 5:02 PM EST
Pretty funny that someone did sign Cuddyer.
Hiram
November 10, 2014 - 4:02 PM EST
Seattle has a guy by the name of DJ Peterson who put up monster numbers last year. Also, Orioles have Christian Walker who is very productive too. Word is though that they are grooming him to take over for Chris Davis at the end of next year.


I have a feeling the Indians are going to target someone like Scott Van Slyke
Hiram
November 10, 2014 - 3:58 PM EST
Pathofkindness,

HOU won't trade you Springer. He will be a 40 HR guy as early as next year.
Tondo
November 10, 2014 - 3:13 PM EST
Why would the Astros sell Springer?

Most of those names really aren't in play. They are not ready to play at the ML level in 2015. Taylor had a ridiculous .421 BABIP in his breakout season at AA level and hasn't even mastered AAA yet. Same for Piscotty. In terms of readiness most of them are behind the in house guys the Indians have. Trade for the future? I thought we're looking for options to improve the 2015 Indians, right?

Only Van Slyke, Souza and Campbell are viable options. Souza is the most inexperienced and by far the most expensive in terms of return. I'd try for Van Slyke and Campbell, in that order.
pathofkindness
November 10, 2014 - 3:01 PM EST
I think that there's a pretty good list coming together of player's who CA could set his sights on (in no particular order:

Kyle Parker (Rockies)
Michael Taylor (Nationals)
Steven Souza (Nationals)
Josh Bell (Pirates)
Stephen Piscotty (Cardinals)
Scott Van Slyke (Dodgers)
George Springer (Astros)

Thoughts...?
Tondo
November 10, 2014 - 2:50 PM EST
Parker is a nice find, but I doubt the Indians would trust an inexperienced, young batter to man RF who struck out 14 times in his first 26 ML ABs and had a sub .800 OPS in AAA. What's the difference between him and Holt, Moncrief, Ramsey and Walters? Yeah, I know he's a RHB. Maybe he has a higher prospect standing and ceiling down the road, but for 2015 I would rather go with Holt or Walters over him.

That said, I'll throw a sleeper target into the ring myself: How about INF/OF Eric Campbell from the Mets? He's an older version (27yo) of Parker with a better AAA track record (above .900 OPS in 2013-14), who got his first ML taste last season. He held his own with an .680 OPS in 190 ABs. Citi Field is a known pitcher park and in 90 ABs there, he had a .627 OPS, on the road it was a respectable .729.
He offers flexibility on D, as he can play almost anywhere, having equally played at 3B, 1B and corner OF, even 2B/SS in a pinch. He has some upside left once the power he has proven to have in the Minors comes out and his BB:K ratio should get better too as he had a 1:1 in AAA the past two seasons. He is controllable and has some value to the Mets too, so he won't be cheap, but they seem to see him as a super-sub, as he's blocked at 3B by Wright and RF by Granderson, but could still get plenty of ABs in LF and as a platoon 1B for Duda vs LHP, but the value, esp at 1B isn't great.

I would offer as much as Erik Gonzalez for Campbell. If it takes less, even better (for some reason, he never cracked any top 20 spec lists in their org, even after his breakout 2013 in AAA. Not even a top 50 Iist I am looking at right now after 2012 for that matter, lol, despite being an 8th round pick that has produced at AA/AAA level from 2012-14) He could play every game vs LHP either at 3B or RF with plenty of starts vs RHP too filling in all around the diamond. He's basically a better version of Aviles with much more upside. Maybe he's the Mets org version of Gallas, but this guy has much better plate discipline that could translate into ML success. He's the definition of overlooked, underappreciated, undervalued and blocked. He reminds me of Gomes...
Discollama
November 10, 2014 - 1:30 PM EST
Everything that I've read about the Rockies and Cuddyer has been operating on the assumption that they could move Morneau in a trade to a team needing a 1B and then shift Cuddyer over there to improve the OF defense and keep him healthier.

You cite CarGo as a guy that doesn't hit many HR's, but his average HR's that you cited would have had him at 7th in the majors in HR's by OF's. You also mistaken say 'defensive WAR'. WAR is WAR, it factors in offense and defense for position players, but depening on if you're using rWAR or fWAR depends on what defensive metrics get factored in. CarGo's fWAR/162 is 4, he can play all three OF positions well and and in 2013 posted a .289 ISO (SLG-AVG). It's also a mistake to look at any player's H/R splits and make a determination about their abilities. Most hitters hit better at home than on the road. For example, the league posted a .725 OPS and a .141 ISO at home with a 19.4 K% and 8.1 BB% and a wRC+ of 104. On the road they posted a .699 OPS and a .135 ISO with a 20.3 K% and 7.5 BB% and a wRC+ of 96. Rockies hitters have the additional trouble of having to tailor their swings to Coors since breaking balls with sink just don't in the thin air which leaves them in a lurch away from Coors. Some guys like Hawpe didn't have this issue, but others have been unfairly judged like Matt Holiday.
Chip
November 10, 2014 - 12:14 PM EST
Jeff, someone like Parker is both a good idea and a good find. What would they want in return? They need a SP and a couple BP arms. What could we get from them if they were offered House and Shaw? Is that enough to get Parker and Butler? Am I selling one team short? House would be an ideal fit in Colorado with his ability to keep the ball in the park and Shaw would be their setup man. Hell, they way House pitched down the stretch, I may be selling the Indians short the more I think about it, but Parker is a good fit and Butler is a potential TOR arm that is close.
Hiram
November 10, 2014 - 12:02 PM EST
Jeff,

is this something that's being discussed or just a suggestion??
Hiram
November 10, 2014 - 12:00 PM EST
Jeff,

I love your thinking on this one this would make a ton of sense. I wonder what the Rockies would want but he would be very good with this team. I actually looked him up a couple weeks ago and he was one of several I had my eye on along with Taylor, Souza and the kid in SEA. This would not only solve a big void but the Indians then would have money to go and get a nice bullpen guy in someone like Romo, Janssen or Gregerson
markn95
November 10, 2014 - 11:51 AM EST
If the Rox weren't loaded in the OF, I'd dangle Ramsey for Parker and another prospect. Ramsey is probably the better player but the Tribe needs to do a left-for-right deal for obvious reasons.

Alternatively, maybe we could offer Walters and a similar level prospect (say, CC Lee or Austin Adams) for Parker. Walters' positional flexibility and power potential at Coors would have to intrigue the Rox' FO
Canadian Joe
November 10, 2014 - 11:37 AM EST
Very interesting Jeff. Good article. The leak you speak of was probably initiated by the Rockies FO, putting out feelers for Tulo and Gonzales. Tulo will not happen, and Cargo can only be afforded if Bourn and/or Swisher are moved. And we know that's not likely to happen. So. Parker is an interesting prospect. Big RH bat. All I can say here is watch the price tag. They seem to be loadad with young talent, so they could look at offers for Tulo or Gonzalez. Perhaps a young infield prospect (not named Lindor or Urshela), a young pitcher, and maybe Murphy for some salary relief. Wouldn't want to see much more than that.

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