Tuesday afternoon, the Colorado Rockies officially introduced new first baseman Ian Desmond with a press conference at Coors Field. Desmond agreed to a five-year deal worth $70 million last week, and he will reportedly play some outfield in addition to first base.
As soon as the Desmond deal went down, rumors began flying that the Rockies would look to trade one of their outfielders for help elsewhere on the roster. The club currently has Charlie Blackmon in center, Carlos Gonzalez in right, David Dahl in left, Gerardo Parra on the bench, and top prospect Raimel Tapia in Triple-A. And Desmond at first.
Following Desmond’s press conference on Tuesday, Rockies GM Jeff Bridich told MLB.com’s Thomas Harding he spoke to Blackmon personally to tell him he should take any trade rumors with “a huge grain of salt.” From Harding:
“We actually talked yesterday,” Bridich said of Blackmon. “I told him to take all the rumors and everything that he might be reading with a huge grain of salt. As the situation was with ‘CarGo’ over the past few years, there are teams that are doing their jobs and doing their due diligence and calling on our guys.
“But we have never come out and said, ‘We want or need to trade Charlie Blackmon.’ I felt like he needed to hear it from me. Unless he saw something directly attributed to me, he could take everything else with a grain of salt.”
Blackmon, 30, is one of the most underrated players in baseball. He hit .324/.381/.552 with 29 home runs and 17 stolen bases in 2016. Even after adjusting for hitter-friendly Coors Field, Blackmon was still 30 percent better than the league average player offensively. Add in his glove and he was a +4.4 WAR player.
The Rockies control Blackmon as an arbitration-eligible player through the 2018 season, so the clock is ticking. At some point soon they have to start thinking about his future with the team. Do they trade him? Sign him to an extension? Let him walk as a free agent? They don’t have to make that decision right now, of course, but it’s coming.
There are no shortage of teams that could use Blackmon. The St. Louis Cardinals were mentioned as a possible suitor prior to signing Dexter Fowler . The Baltimore Orioles , San Francisco Giants , Toronto Blue Jays , Detroit Tigers , Texas Rangers , and Seattle Mariners could all use some sort of outfield help, though not necessarily a center fielder. The Rockies could also gauge interest in CarGo, though his $20 million salary in 2017 could be an obstacle.
I can’t imagine having your name pop up in trade rumors is a comfortable feeling. These guys have families and they could have their entire lives uprooted with one phone call. At the same time, unless the player has a no-trade clause, it’s out of his control. All he can do is go about his offseason business and wait for spring training.