The dust kicked into the air from Archie Bradley‘s two-run triple that gut-punched the Colorado Rockies out of the 2017 postseason is still settling. And once it does, the same questions that face all pro sports teams will come crashing down on the club who just experienced its best season since 2009. How much can they just continue to build on what they have? How much of their failure to beat Arizona, or win more regular season games, came down to issues that must be addressed versus those that may be solved naturally? Can Colorado simply get the band back together and expect different (i.e. better) results?
Carlos Gonzalez, Jonathan Lucroy, Pat Neshek, Jake McGee, Mark Reynolds, and Tyler Chatwood are all now free agents. Greg Holland can choose to opt out of the second year of his deal, making him free to test the market as well. Furthermore, both Charlie Blackmon and DJ LeMahieu will enter 2018 in the final year of their contracts meaning that either or both could be approached about a possible extension this winter. And, of course, Nolan Arenado will be in that position going into 2019, which should put extension talks on the table for him as well. All told, the Rockies could be deciding their budget and roster core for much of the entire next decade in the coming months.
Huge deals for Blackmon and Arenado could mean less money to spend on Gonzalez and Holland. The Monforts may decide to open up the checkbooks and pay for them all. We don’t know what ownership will do, or even what they would like to do at this point, but the players made it absolutely clear to BSN Denver that they would like another chance to win with mostly the same group of guys who became brothers this summer.
It was an emotional night in Phoenix three weeks ago for a multitude of reasons. Of course, professional athletes hate to lose, even more so when that loss means the season is over. But more than that, the possibility that this could be the last time some of the guys get to play together was palpable in the losing clubhouse after the game.
Carlos Gonzalez fought back tears when asked if he would like to continue to be a part of what the Rockies have built and are building. “Absolutely,” he said without hesitation. “I’ve been here nine years and the future is bright. I love my teammates (deep breath) and I love the organization. I am who I am today because of them. We’ll see what happens.”
We caught up with DJ LeMahieu who echoed those sentiments, reiterating that he is proud of how the guys played all season and believe they could be on to something special. He started with the same word CarGo did. “Absolutely,” said LeMahieu. “I want everyone back. Hopefully, we can all be together again, as many of us as we can, and we can get after it again next year.”
On the game itself, DJ said, “I’m disappointed we lost, I’m not disappointed in how we played.” A fitting statement about the entire season for a team that has plenty to be proud of but plenty of work to do.”
“These guys are too good to let a game like this keep ’em down, they’re gonna benefit from it in the future,” catcher Jonathan Lucroy said about his newly adopted young starting pitching staff. Sounds like a group of guys he wouldn’t mind seeing at spring training next year.
“I have fully enjoyed my time here. Obviously, I wish I could have done more and we could have moved on. But it is what it is, we’ll see what happens. I don’t know what’s gonna happen next year. I’ve never been through free agency either, so I don’t know what to expect really. I had a bad first half of the year and then I came here, great group of guys and a great team, and I started playing better. I feel like I got back to where I should be offensively. But at the same time, I’m very grateful for them bringing me in and making me a part of something and helping get me back on my feet.”
The Colorado Rockies other mid-season acquisition, relief pitcher Pat Neshek, had no such poor first half to recover from but finds himself in the same rare situation of being able to pick from among what will likely be more than a few potential suitors in free agency. Like LeMahieu, he wouldn’t mind going on tour with this setup one more time, telling BSN Denver that “if it’s close” in terms of offers, he’d love to stay in Colorado.
Lucroy summed up the position most of these guys are in while making it abundantly clear that the Rockies have entered a new era. One of the best catchers of the last decade concluded our interview with this thought:
“I guess as a free agent thinking about it, you want to win, you’re a 31-year-old catcher and you are trying to get to a team where you can win. This is definitely a place I can do that.”