- 2022 record: 68-94
- 2023 projection: 65-97
- Estimated 2023 payroll: $163 million ($136m in 2022)
- Major departures: José Iglesias, Chad Kuhl, Carlos Estévez
- Major arrivals: Pierce Johnson
When you finished last in the division, and your major off-season free-agent signing is a relief pitcher who didn’t throw 15 innings last year, and had an ERA north of five... Yeah, it feels like the Rockies had thrown in the towel before spring training even started. I must admit, my first thought was, “How the hell are they spending $163 million this year?” Kris Bryant is the obvious top earner, at $28 million, and they’ll be hoping to get more than 42 games and five home-runs from him this year. But Germán Márquez is earning $15.3 million in the final guaranteed year of his contract, Charlie Blackmon will be paid $15 million, while Kyle Freeland and Randal Grichuk are also due eight-figure salaries.
The problem is, those four men combined last year to be worth just 4.6 bWAR in total, so slightly less than Daulton Varsho. Overall, Colorado were 10th in the league by bWAR for their hitters, and 12th by pitchers - though the latter was actually better than the D-backs. It was the usual situation of the team being okay at home, where they actually had a winning record, going 41-40. But they were 27-54 away from Clown Field, the worst mark in the National League. This year just doesn’t look to be significantly different. They do deserve credit for having developed most of their position players in house: two-thirds of the Roster Resource expected starting nine, are Colorado originals.
As is normally the case in Coors, the problem is likely to be on the pitching side. Fangraphs currently project the Rockies to have the worst rotation in the major leagues, with an ERA a half-run worse than anyone else. This will inevitably put more stress on the bullpen... and that ranks 24th. Mind you, they also rank dead last at catcher, first-base and right-field, so it’s not as if they’re a team without weakness on the position front. Still, that didn’t stop owner Dick Montfort from proclaiming, “A lot of good things are going to happen, and I think they are going to start happening this year, and I think we can play .500 ball.” He may be about the only person who thinks so.
There is some youthful hope for optimism on the left-hand side of the infield, in the shape of prospects Ezequiel Tovar and the wonderfully named Warming Bernabel, at shortstop and third-base respectively. The former is ranked the #27 prospect across all baseball, and may be joined at Coors later in the year by outfielder Zac Veen (#23). However, most of the team’s other top 10 prospects are no higher than A-ball, so are some way off being able to contribute at the major-league level. They ranked 12th overall in Leith Kaw’s ranking of farm systems, so... meh. Still, Coors Field remains one of the loveliest parks to take in a game, and as long as the turnstiles keep turning, the incentive for ownership to improve is limited.
Where will the Rockies finish in the NL West for 2023?
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