Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE
The Rockies have a number of outfielders and are in need of pitching. Could there be a fit between the Mets and Colorado?
The Colorado Rockies are coming off another disappointing season in 2012, as they finished just 64-98 thanks to a complete lack of quality starting pitching. What the Rockies do not currently possess in the rotation, they seem to have in outfielders of differing quality.
As the Mets continue to search for competent outfielders, could there be a potential trade fit between the two clubs? Here's a rundown of the outfielders who played at the big league level in 2012 and are likely to be on the Rockies' big league roster in 2013:
|Name||Age||2012 BA/OBP/SLG||Career fWAR||2012 wOBA||2012 fWAR||Contract Situation|
|Dexter Fowler||27||.300/.389/.474||7.5||.375||2.9||2nd year arbitration eligible (Super Two), free agent after 2015|
|Carlos Gonzalez||27||.303/.371/.510||16.1||.374||2.7||Guaranteed $7.5 million in 2013, $10.5M in 2014, $16M in 2015, $17M in 2016, and $20M in 2017|
|Tyler Colvin||27||.290/.327/.531||3.7||.365||2.7||1st year arb eligible (Super Two), free agent after 2016|
|Eric Young Jr
||27||.316/.377/.448||1.2||.362||1.8||Pre-arb eligible, 1st year arb in 2014, free agent after 2016|
|Charlie Blackmon||26||.283/.325/.407||0.4||.321||1.1||Pre-arb eligible, arb eligible in 2015, free agent after 2017|
|Michael Cuddyer||34||.260/.317/.489||15.5||.344||1.0||Guaranteed $10.5 million in both 2013 and 2014|
Carlos Gonzalez likely is not an option. The 27-year-old is a fine hitter, but he's also one of the Rockies' cornerstones and is paid accordingly. It would likely take a large haul to pry him away from Colorado, making a swap very unlikely.
Rumor has it that Dexter Fowler could be moved, but the Rockies supposedly want a ton for him and there are legitimate questions about both his defensive skills — -21 DRS, -12.9 UZR/150 in center field over his career — and his offensive ability away from Coors Field — career .295/.395/.487 in Denver, .248/.331/.367 on the road. Fowler has the tools to be a great player, but trading for him is a risk. If Colorado's asking price dropped, he'd be interesting, though.
That narrows the field down to four players and we'll begin with Colvin. The former Cubs prospect had a nice year in Colorado, showcasing big power (.240 ISO) and an ability to handle all three outfield positions, along with first base. While his home/road splits were rather stark in 2012, Colvin's power isn't a Coors Field mirage, as he put up a .246 ISO with the Cubs in 2010 and minor league ISO's over .200 in multiple seasons. Unfortunately, Colvin has his issues, the biggest being that as a .228/.271/.423 career hitter against lefties, he's yet another lefthanded hitter who can't hit lefthanded pitching. The other lesser problem is plate discipline -- Colvin has run a 25.7% strikeout rate over his career but has seen his walk rate plummet each season, down to a dismal 4.6% in 2012.
It was rumored last offseason that the Mets and Rockies had discussed a trade of Justin Turner for Eric Young Jr. While the deal ultimately did not go down, Young still seems to be an intriguing option for the Mets, though somewhat risky thanks to the vagaries of small sample size. After a couple of below average offensive seasons, Young broke out in 196 plate appearances in 2012 thanks to a spike in BABIP (.367), despite only a modest increase in line drive rate 19.1% in 2012, 18.3% career). He has little power but possesses great speed, which he uses well in the field and on the basepaths. Young has also walked a good amount in both his minor league and major league time (8.9% career rate). While Young seems like he could fit well at the top of the lineup, it's tough to tell what Young actually is and whether he could hit enough to survive as a starting outfielder. He seems like a decent gamble, though, thanks to his strong walk rates and his speed.
Charlie Blackmon is a 26-year old lefthanded hitting outfielder who has just 211 big league plate appearances over 2011 and 2012. Blackmon is a .312/.376/.473 hitter in five minor league seasons and he seems to have a decent mix of speed and doubles power. Admittedly, I don't know much about him but John Sickels had him as a C+ prospect last offseason and said in his writeup that he sees him as a useful fourth outfielder. The Mets have plenty of lefty hitters but considering Blackmon's put up strong walk and strikeout rates throughout his professional career, perhaps he has a better chance than Kirk Nieuwenhuis at reaching or surpassing that ceiling.
Finally, we get to the veteran Cuddyer who signed on with the Rockies before last season after a decade with the Twins. The signing didn't seem to make a whole lot of sense a year ago and considering how bad the Rockies were in 2012, it seems to make even less sense now. Cuddyer will be 34 by Opening Day and at $10.5 million a year the next two seasons, he's a bit pricey for a 90-plus loss team. Despite playing in just 101 games last season, the righty swinging outfielder can still hit for power and more importantly, he can hit lefties (.258/.351/.577 in 2012, .287/.376/.497 career). Cuddyer also walks at a solid clip (9% for his career) and while he's not a great fielder, he has plenty of experience playing right field, along with three of the four infield positions. While his age and salary may be deterrents, he could be a useful righty mashing option in the middle of the lineup if the Rockies are looking to dump his contract and if the Mets have the ability to take on his entire salary for the next two seasons in exchange for relinquishing a lesser prospect.
One last note: the Rockies added 24-year old outfielder Tim Wheeler to their 40-man roster this offseason. Wheeler, not related to Zack, is a lefty swinging outfielder who has played center field in the minors (though he may be more of a corner outfielder in the majors). After hitting .287/.365/.535 with 33 home runs at AA Tulsa in 2011, a hamate bone injury interrupted his 2012 at AAA and sapped his power as he hit just .303/.357/.412 with 2 home runs. While there seem to be questions about his ultimate position and his ability to hit lefties, the power Wheeler has shown in the past makes him an interesting speculative buy should the Rockies make him available in a trade for some reason.
The Rockies have some players who could be useful to the Mets, though there's no obvious perfect fit. Gonzalez and Fowler likely aren't available in trades or will cost too much but Colvin, Young, Blackmon, and Cuddyer each offer an attribute the Mets could use. The best two options seem to be Young and Cuddyer: EY because of his price and his on base/speed combo, Cuddyer due to his righthanded power (but only if the Mets could take on his salary and not have to give up too much value in prospects). Wheeler seems like a dark horse candidate, should the Rockies look to move him after the large dropoff in power thanks to the hamate injury.
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