|Trading De La Rosa would be a mistake for the Rockies.|
With another season in the books well before the All-Star break, the Rockies are in a position to have the rest of the league pick through their roster and try to find a hidden gem that might lead their team to the playoffs.
The Rockies would be smart to make moves, and frankly, no one should be untouchable when a team is as bad as the Rockies. However, this is a team that needs to make smart moves, not just salary dumping moves that bring in fringe prospects that the club hopes to develop.
While rumors have started to swirl around Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez being dealt, the Rockies are far more likely to field phone calls on a different player; Jorge De La Rosa has not only been a very good pitcher in his time in Colorado, he has been dominant at Coors Field. The lefty is an amazing 40-14 in Denver in his career, sporting a 4.15 ERA, a very respectable number in a place where pitchers generally spend the rest of the season working on getting their ERA back down after their turn in the rotation comes a mile above sea level.
There will be no shortage of teams calling on De La Rosa. Despite playing on nearly the worst team in baseball and having a down year by all accounts, the Rockies lefty has already picked up nine wins. The last three games that the Rockies have won were all started by De La Rosa. Not only is that an indictment on how horrible this team is, but it also shows how the lefty is able to win when others can't.
With pennant races in full effect, teams from both coasts and outside of the U.S. borders will be calling the Rockies to see what the asking price will be on their ace. With De La Rosa's contract coming to an end after the 2014 campaign, it may seem like a no-brainer for the depth-challenged Rockies to go out and get two prospects for their ace. However, it isn't as good of a deal as it might sound like.
For those who defend Dan O'Dowd and the Rockies in 2014 because of the injury issues, De La Rosa is a prime example of their lack of planning. If 2014 has shown the Rockies front office and their fans one thing it is that when a team thinks they have pitching depth, they need to go get even more pitchers, because there simply is no such thing as having enough pitching depth. However, with De La Rosa waiting to hear from the Rockies in regards to an extension, the Rockies never called.
It is well known that the lefty loves Colorado. He loves to pitch at Coors Field and he loves the city of Denver. He has seen his career blossom in Colorado and he seems to have embraced the team and isn't afraid to pitch at altitude. However, the Rockies, full well knowing that they might be able to get a home town discount, didn't even approach a pitcher who had just won 16 games for them, all while dealing with a thumb injury that bothered him for more than half of the season.
Instead, the Rockies front office looked at their minor league system and thought that they had enough depth that they could let De La Rosa walk after this season and let the younger pitchers take his place. Instead, 2014 has shown how the Rockies need to hoard every decent starting pitcher that they can get their hands on. If a guy like De La Rosa wants to pitch at Coors Field -- and he probably is the only pitcher in Major League Baseball who actually likes to pitch there -- then the Rockies shouldn't trade him away, they should sign him to an extension.
For teams like the Rockies, it usually makes sense to trade away larger, expiring contracts in a lost season. It is not only a way to save money, but to get a big return on a player who might walk away at season's end anyway. However, the case of De La Rosa shouldn't be thought of in the same way. This is a franchise that has struggled mightily to develop minor leaguers, specifically pitchers.
The last thing that they should do is trade away a known commodity, who loves to pitch at Coors Field, and thrives there, for two really good prospects who may turn out the way that Alex White and Drew Pomeranz did when the Rockies traded Ubaldo Jimenez at the trade deadline in 2011. The reality is, Pomeranz and White are far more than the Rockies would get for De La Rosa, unless a team got extremely nervous that they needed one more arm to get them over the top.
The reality is, the Rockies missed a good window of opportunity to sign De La Rosa before he could test the free agent waters after the 2014 season. However, they could keep him happy and let him know that they actually do appreciate what he has done for this franchise by not dealing him away before the deadline and signing him to an extension after the season is over.
If a guy can pitch well at Coors Field, as De La Rosa has clearly demonstrated, and he wants to be a part of the team as they rebuild, and he has the stuff to be a two-time 16-game winner, then there is no reason to not keep him on the team. Let the younger prospects battle it out for the remaining four rotation spots and let them fill in the gaps when there are injuries.
If 2014 has taught the Rockies anything, it is that there can't be enough good pitchers in the organization. Trading De La Rosa would weaken an already questionable rotation heading into 2015.
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