I was asked by Will from TheNatsBlog.com to help him with a collaborative article on grading how well each team did in last week's winter meetings. Obviously, for my part I will be covering the Rockies.
Team Name: Colorado Rockies
Team Record: 92-70 (Wild Card winners)
Team Needs: Back up catcher, backup infielder who can play 1st and 3rd base, and pitching depth.
Team Moves: Signed catcher Chris Iannetta to a three year, $8 million contract. The agreement buys Iannetta out of his arbitration years and gives the Rockies cost certainty heading into the 2010 campaign. Late-inning reliever Rafael Betancourt accepted arbitration, guaranteeing the Rockies a solid back end of the rotation. Non-tendered third baseman Garrett Atkins, allowing him to become a free agent.
Team Grade: B
Evaluation: The Rockies were not expected to be very active in the 2009 Winter Meetings. They are comfortable with their lineup staying basically the same heading into 2010. Catcher Yorvit Torrealba took over the starting spot late in the season as Iannetta faltered, and the Rockies are trying to work on a deal to get him back as well. Torrealba is set on a two-year, $6 million deal. The Rockies are reportedly $400,000 away from that number, but neither side is willing to budge. Iannetta possesses more God-given talent, but after three straight seasons of losing the starting job, the Rockies are looking to have a veteran catcher waiting in the wings. Torrealba is a clubhouse favorite and had several clutch hits down the stretch and in the playoffs for the Rockies.
Signing Iannetta was a no-brainer for the Rockies. Despite having two highly touted catching prospects in the minor leagues (Mike McKenry and Wilin Rosario), the Rockies should save a significant amount of money by avoiding three years of arbitration and if Iannetta flames out, gets hurt, or proves that his down 2009 was not an aberration, the team is not on the hook for a huge chunk of money. The Rockies are still looking to add depth after losing Jason Marquis to free agency, but are most likely going to depend on Jeff Francis to fill that role.