Jan. 06, 2017
One Last Need That the Colorado Rockies Still Might Address
Based on the moves they have made this winter, the Colorado Rockies now look primed to have even more success than they had last year especially with a new manager in place along with a new utility player in Ian Desmond. While everything that Colorado has done to this point this winter has made sense, they still have one last need and it is in the catching department.
As it stands right now, the Rockies would go into the season with 24-year old, Tony Wolters, serving as their primary backstop presuming he beat out 25-year old, Tom Murphy, and 29-year old, Dustin Garneau, for that role. After those three, Colorado doesn't have any additional catching depth besides in the minor leagues meaning that the team might elect to look at external options and see what the free agent market has to offer.
Colorado likely wouldn't want to trade for someone like Derrick Norris of the Washington Nationals if the Nationals were to sign free agent catcher, Matt Wieters, as the asking price would likely be higher than the Rockies could stomach. Therefore, they might be better suited to focus solely on the free agent market and try to reach a short term deal with the afforementioned, Matt Wieters or reunite themselves with former Rockies catcher, Nick Hundley.
Although Hundley could be a viable option, he does come with a ton of risk that Colorado may want to avoid altogether. Last season, Hundley missed time at the beginning of the season due to a concussion and was out once again for a little over a month later on due to a strained left oblique, but did return healthy come June 3rd. Prior to that, Hundley missed the last part of the 2015 season from about the middle of September through the offseason with a cervical strain.
Based on those factors alone, Colorado might want to turn it's attention to Matt Wieters even though he likely will command a larger deal than Hundley would and also comes with some risk. Wieters missed quite a bit of time in 2015 recovering from Tommy John surgery and also was out with a strained right elbow in 2014. However, it would be a deal that made sense especially from an offensive standpoint along with a veteran leadership aspect.
Wieters has experience playing in the playoffs with the Baltimore Orioles during the 2012 AL Wild Card game as well as the AL Division Series that year. In addition, he helped the Orioles struggling pitching staff make the 2016 AL Wild Card game last season only to lose to the Toronto Blue Jays.
From an offensive standpoint, Wieters would also provide an upgrade over Hundley and stands a high chance of mashing the ball especially at Coors Field. In 2015 and 2016, Wieters recorded 25 home runs along with 91 RBI in 681 at bats. On the other hand, Hundley hit 20 home runs over that same time period with the same number of RBI as Wieters in 655 at bats. Wieters also has a solid track record of several back-to-back seasons where he hit 20+ home runs and recorded 65+ RBI, while Hundley does not have that.
When it comes to defense, Hundley has the upper hand as he had a higher zBall% (16.0) compared to that of Wieters (14.2) last season. From a strikeout standpoint though, Wieters ranked slightly higher with an average of 6.7 strikeouts compared to Hundley who had an average of 6.1.
Colorado could certainly afford to upgrade it's catching depth with another frontline catcher of Wieters or Hundley's ability, but both do come with about the same amount of injury risk and defensive skillset. Therefore, Colorado might want to avoid both catchers and give the youngsters a chance to develop into everyday major league catchers. After all, what do they have to lose especially with an offense that can easily pick up the slack from the catching position?