The Rockies had interest in Kyle Schwarber prior to the lockout, The Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders writes. With the Rockies known to be looking for outfield help and more hitting in general, it isn’t surprising that Schwarber is on the team’s target list, and Saunders figures the team will make a continued push for the slugger once the transactions freeze is lifted.
Despite the thin air of Coors Field, the Rockies’ lineup has been generally inconsistent over the last few years, and the team now faces the likely departure of Trevor Story in the free agent market. A proven power bat like Schwarber would help greatly in replacing or even topping Story’s offensive production, while also solidifying at least one position within Colorado’s outfield. Beyond longtime staple Charlie Blackmon, the Rox have several outfield options (Raimel Tapia, Connor Joe, Sam Hilliard, Yonathan Daza, Ryan Vilade, and multi-position player Garrett Hampson) but none who present a clear everyday answer.
There’s also the designated hitter spot to consider, as the likely adoption of the universal DH means the Rockies will have another position to address. Schwarber or Blackmon could be options here, and since Schwarber played some first base during his stint with the Red Sox last year, the Rockies could conceivably use Schwarber in the infield when regular first baseman C.J. Cron is given a day off or a DH day.
It isn’t exactly been a quiet offseason in Denver, as the Rockies extended Cron before free agency opened, re-signed Jhoulys Chacin, and the team also worked out extensions with righty Antonio Senzatela and catcher Elias Diaz. However, the Rox and general manager Bill Schmidt haven’t done much in the way of adding any new talent to the roster, despite the organization’s oft-stated goal of contending in 2022.
That said, the Rockies have at least explored some notable additions, as they also had interest in Kris Bryant earlier this winter. Saunders doesn’t feel the Rockies will meet Bryant’s asking price, and that same logic could also apply to a pair of other major outfielders still on the open market. Signing either Michael Conforto or Nick Castellanos (who each rejected the qualifying offer) would cost the Rockies a draft pick, plus Castellanos was also reportedly looking for a long-term commitment of at least seven years for his next contract.
It should be noted that the Rockies would get an compensatory pick if/when Story signs elsewhere, so with some extra draft capital to play with, Schmidt didn’t outright reject the idea of signing a QO free agent. In any case, the qualifying offer doesn’t apply to Schwarber, as his midseason trade to the Red Sox made him ineligible, so he can be signed without any draft pick penalty.
Between the lack of draft compensation, his reported aim for a relatively modest three-year deal in the $60MM range, and his track record at the plate, Schwarber could be considered the most attractive option within the top tier of remaining free agent outfielders (Bryant, Castellanos, Conforto, and Seiya Suzuki). Of course, the Rockies aren’t alone in targeting Schwarber, as the Phillies, Marlins, Nationals, and Red Sox have all shown varied levels of interest in his services this winter, and any number of other teams are also speculative fits. While Schwarber’s contractual ask may fall within Colorado’s comfort zone, then, the Rockies may still have to outbid other teams that can offer either more money, or a more clear-cut chance at contending next season.