On Saturday, June 29, the Rockies beat the Dodgers at Coors Field. Jon Gray got the win, while Clayton Kershaw got the loss, a result that ended the hex Los Angeles seemed to have over Colorado and provided hope for the rest of the season.
At 44-39, the Rockies were clearly in the postseason chase. Having dug themselves out a 3-12 hole to start the season, Bud Black’s team had clawed back into contention.
Then, the wheels fell off.
Colorado lost its next six games to stumbled into the All-Star break with a sub-.500 record. They haven’t been much better since the days off, posting a 3-7 record after the Midsummer Classic.
As a result, the Rockies appear to be on the outside looking in for the playoffs. They’re currently 47-52, a full 5.0 games back of St. Louis for the final wild card spot in the National League, with four other teams ahead of them in the standings.
That being the case, next week’s MLB trade deadline looms large. If Colorado was truly in the hunt, or even showing promise that they’re heading in the right direction, there might be conversation about them being “buyers” on July 31. But with the opposite being the case, there’s talk about the Rockies being “sellers” between now and next Wednesday.
While there are plenty of players on Colorado’s roster who could be of interest to contenders down the stretch, including some that might be contracts the Rockies would like to dump, the latest rumor isn’t one that will makes fans happy. According to MLB.com, the club is willing to listen to offers for Charlie Blackmon.
The All-Star outfielder makes a lot of money – he’s scheduled to earn $21.5 million per season between now and 2021, with player options in ’22 and ’23 – so it makes sense that Jeff Bridich might be looking to escape that commitment. After all, the Rockies can finish in last place without Blackmon. But the move would signal more than a white flag on this season.
If the Rockies general manager is able to dump some of the bad contracts he’s inked in recent offseasons – see Wade Davis, Jake McGee, Ian Desmond, etc. – it would signal that throwing in the town on 2019 is about creating flexibility for 2020 and beyond. With those deals off the books, Bridich could try again in free agency this offseason, trying to build a winner around the team’s core stars.
But if he dumps a star, which Blackmon clearly is, then it’s a sign that the Rockies aren’t planning on contending for years to come. If Colorado is going to be in the mix in 2020 and beyond, it’ll be because of Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, David Dahl and Blackmon, with the right pieces added around them. Shipping any of those four players out of town signals that the current window for winning, which has seen Colorado make the postseason in back-to-back seasons for the first time in franchise history, has closed.
The Rockies should probably be sellers between now and July 31. But they need to move on from the right players. It’s hard to imagine how Charlie Blackmon is among that group.