Colorado Rockies Non-Tender Casualties

Colorado Rockies

The Colorado Rockies have non-tendered several players prior to arbitration. This is increasingly common in baseball. Some of the decisions are related to performance, but it also saves the team some money. The pandemic and lack of financial clarity surrounding the upcoming season will force multiple unpopular personnel decisions over the winter. Let us review who was non-tendered and what that means for the 2021 roster. Nick Groke of The Athletic was among those who announced the decision Wednesday night.

Colorado Rockies Non-Tender Casualties

The most notable is easily David Dahl. The 26-year-old will become a free agent after the worst season of his four-year career. He appeared in just 24 of the 60 games due to injury. His batting line of .183/222/247 translated to an unbearable 19 OPS+ and 10 wRC+. Some of Dahl’s 2020 struggles were due to a very low .258 BABIP, but that is the only real silver lining to the past year. He provided no value either at the plate or in the field. He’s been notoriously fragile for his entire major league career, so it’s easy to understand why he was non-tendered at this time.

Tony Wolters is also an unfortunate non-tender casualty after his worst season. The 28-year-old catcher saw his value fall into negative territory for the second consecutive season depending on which version you prefer; FanGraphs had him at -.5 WAR in 2019. They aren’t losing much overall. Wolters’ career slash line is just .238/380/270 with seven home runs in 1232 plate appearances. His only potential value comes on defense, and an automated strike zone could eliminate that in the future.

Chi Chi Gonzalez is the final player that will not be returning. He is the only pitcher non-tendered at Wednesday’s deadline. Gonzalez is a 28-year-old originally who was originally selected 23rd overall in the 2013 Amateur Draft. He is a very replaceable fifth starter whose fastball averaged just 92.2 MPH in 2020. On top of the lackluster velocity, Gonzalez posted a 6.86 ERA, 5.53 FIP, and just 16 strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings of work. He struck out only 17.6 percent of batters while walking 11 percent. Teams simply hit him too hard to retain his services.

Replacing the Casualties

The Rockies still have six outfielders on the 40-man roster. That doesn’t include Kevin Pillar, who joined the team at the trade deadline and was quite decent in 97 plate appearances. He might be an ideal free agent signing. Then there is a combination of several players including Sam Hilliard who might occupy center field with Dahl’s departure. Expect some experimentation in the outfield in 2021 considering how unproven many of the current options are.

Elias Diaz returns after striking a deal late Tuesday evening and he should help shoulder the catching burden. The 30-year-old isn’t particularly special, but he has a career .248/300/355 slash line and gives the team some pop behind the plate. He’ll share the duty with prospect Dom Nunez, who did well for himself in AAA-Albuquerque in 2019.

Gonzalez is not hard to replace. Colorado already used Ryan Castellani as its fifth starter in 2020 and there are other SPs ready to go. If Castellani goes back to the minors or shifts to the bullpen, Peter Lambert should return and occupy that spot. He is a 6’2″, 185-pound right-handed pitcher selected in the second round of the 2015 Amateur Draft. He underwent Tommy John earlier this year and might return late next year depending on his recovery. Also, watch Ryan Rolison‘s development. He is the organization’s top pitching prospect and could make his debut soon as a polished former college starter. Finding an upgrade to Gonzalez should not be hard considering the organization’s collection of starting options.

Main Image
Embed from Getty Images