When the Colorado Rockies traded Troy Tulowitzki to the Toronto Blue Jays, many thought another move would be quick to follow.
Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez seemed to be the next one shipped out of town for pitching prospects. Gonzalez has a big contract, wants to win and the Rockies are in big need of some pitching. It all made sense.
But Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich did his best Lee Corso impersonation ‑-- Not so fast, my friend.
Bridich decided to keep Gonzalez last season and it paid off for the outfielder. Not in the win column but Gonzalez proved he was healthy once again and went on a tear. After Tulowitzki was traded on July 28, Gonzalez went off for 20 home runs and 46 runs batted in. Paired with Nolan Arenado, the Rockies had a one-two punch that left plenty of pitchers scared.
So now the offseason comes and rumors of the Rockies shipping Gonzalez out of Denver start to heat up once again. Those rumors should be shut down quick as the Rockies need to keep Gonzalez.
Bridich has already called Gonzalez part of the Rockies’ core this offseason. He wants Gonzalez here and the outfielder seems to want to stay in Denver. He has strong friendship with Arenado and feels that with time the Rockies could start to compete.
“Right now, my mind is ready for spring training with the Rockies,” Gonzalez told The Denver Post on Nov. 12. “I’m happy where I’m at right now. If we can continue to get better as a team, all the young guys, we’ll be good.
“I’m not worried about trades. I can’t do anything with that. The only thing I focus on is getting my strength and getting in shape. Right now, I feel good.”
After watching the team wait and wait to trade Tulowitzki, it would make sense for the Rockies to strike while the iron is hot with Gonzalez. But that is not the case. When Gonzalez is healthy, he has the ability to put a team on his back. The Rockies need star power and they have it with Gonzalez.
The numbers alone, 40 HRs and 97 RBIs, speak for themselves. But Gonzalez is much more than a masher at the plate, he is a five-tool player. He has the speed to get to balls in the gap, which is key playing 81 games at Coors Field, and has the arm to gun down runners at any base from any outfield position. His base stealing was not what it used to be last season when he only swiped two bags but he still has the speed to be a threat.
The No. 1 reason people say don’t let the Rockies trade Gonzalez is because there is no trust that the front office would get anything back for him. A major complaint about the Tulowitzki trade was that no major-league ready pitching was acquired. The same would happen with Gonzalez.
With his injury-history, teams would be nervous to give up too much for him. The same was said for Tulowitzki. Both are unbelievable talents but teams don’t want a player that will sit out for extended periods of time. And those teams don’t want to give up stud pitchers either.
But the main reason to not trade Gonzalez is he can be something to build around. Combining him and Arenado creates a left-right power combination that a lot of teams dream of. Both players are complete as well. They can hit for power, average and field their position. Those types of players don’t grow on trees.
The Rockies have not been relevant in a long time but having Gonzalez on their roster gives them a shot to get there. At the age of 30, the outfielder still has some good years left and the Rockies have him under contract until 2017.
If the Rockies are looking to trade a power bat for pitching, Corey Dickerson may be the way to go. While he is a great hitter, his defense is suspect at times. There is no worry with Gonzalez’s defense.
In the long run, the Tulowitzki trade will end up being the right move. The shortstop didn’t seem as motivated when the team was losing and if even one of the pitching prospects pan out it will be a win for the Rockies. But don’t completely tear the team apart. Colorado needs to have a little something to start building with and while Arenado has surged to stardom, Gonzalez still has what it takes to be a focal point of the Rockies.