Though he’s been at the helm for nearly two full seasons, Colorado Rockies’ GM Bill Schmidt will be participating in his first Winter Meetings since taking control of the yoke on May 3, 2021.

He made the surprise signing of an “aircraft carrier” by the name of Kris Bryant before the start of the 2022 campaign. Who’s to say he may not try to acquire a Boeing 747 or even a Stealth Bomber this time around?

For those who saw Colorado make zero moves at the trade deadline in August, the one hope for fans is that Schmidt doesn’t settle for a helicopter or hot air balloon that turns into more of a lead balloon. 

National League Champs Philadelphia won 87 games to take the third Wild Card and Tampa Bay was the sixth-seed in the American League with 86. Can a Rockies’ club that won 68 games last year possibly improve 20 games enough to earn a third Wild Card? And can all those improvements happen this offseason?

If Colorado makes those kind of gains, here’s how they’ll do that in the next few days in San Diego:

Three For The Price Of One 

The top priority for Schmidt is to find an upgrade in the outfield that can hit left-handed. Preferably, that player could provide the type of consistency the Rockies haven’t had since 2020 when Charlie Blackmon was still considered nasty. The greatest defensive demand is in center field, so might as well target a player there.

If you can get all three of those qualities out of the same person, even better.  

Free agents Brandon Nimmo, Kevin Kiermaier and Cody Bellinger each tick off most the boxes, but only Nimmo has a perfect score for what Colorado needs.

Oct 8, 2022; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets center fielder Brandon Nimmo (9) reacts after hitting a RBI single in the fourth inning during game two of the Wild Card series against the San Diego Padres for the 2022 MLB Playoffs at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

After not coming to terms on an extension with the Pittsburgh Pirates, the switch-hitting Bryan Reynolds has requested a trade, becoming another potential target for Schmidt.

Aaron Hicks (NYY), Mike Yastrzemski (SF) and Jake McCarthy (ARI) are other trade options that have been rumored to be on the market this offseason.

Best Case Scenario: Sign Nimmo

Most Probable Scenario: Sign Kiermaier

Find The Next Germán Márquez

Putting Antonio Senzatela to the side as he returns from ACL surgery and may not be ready for Opening Day and the grind of 30-plus starts, Colorado has only three players they would describe as rotation-worthy.

Kyle Freeland, Germán Márquez and José Ureña, who signed early in the off-season to a one-year deal with an option for 2024, are the only three who pitched reliably through the dog days of summer. 

Austin Gomber managed to make 17 starts last season, same as Ureña, but reached that number only after spending the final 11 weeks of the season in the bullpen and starting the final game of the year. Ryan Feltner started 19 games and managed a 5.83 ERA, a smidge higher than Gomber’s 5.56 ERA.

Oct 5, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Austin Gomber (26) throws to the plate in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Unless the Rockies are incredibly confident in Senzatela’s recovery, Gomber’s bounce back or Feltner’s maturation, they’ll need at least one more starter.

Since signing a free agent starting pitcher will be the typical impossibility, they’ll need to make a trade, much like the one Schmidt’s predecessor Jeff Bridich crafted in January of 2016 when the club acquired a 20-year-old pitcher from A-ball from the Tampa Bay Rays.

By the end of the season, Márquez was making his MLB debut and laying the groundwork for stardom.

Fingers, legs, toes, heck, maybe even eyes need to be crossed for Schmidt to uncover another diamond in the rough like that ever again for Colorado. But that’s precisely what he’ll need to do if the rotation is going to be bolstered significantly.

Best Case Scenario: Ransack the Rays’ farm system again

Most Probable Scenario: Give opportunities to cavalcade of no. 5 starters

Many More Bulls For The Pen

If finding one starting pitcher isn’t difficult enough, how about trying to add two or three relievers.

Outside of closer Daniel Bard and setup man Dinelson Lamet, Colorado has no other relievers with more than two years of big league experience.

Sep 11, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Dinelson Lamet (32) pitches in the ninth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Brent Suter, the logicial top lefty in the pen with the health of Lucas Gilbreath still in question, was selected off waivers and signed to a one-year deal. Since a thought inside the organization is that he could have a place in the rotation despite having made just five starts in the past four seasons, that would be one less option late in games.

Where will these relievers surface? Will Bud Black get more backing to create a bridge to Bard?

Considering Bard was originally a minor league invite to Spring Training and both Lamet and Suter were taken off waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers, coincidentally, the Rockies may need to continue their search of the bargain bin while the young hurlers get another year under their belts.

Best Case Scenario: Sign LHP Zach Britton and RHP Adam Ottavino

Most Probable Scenario: Sign RHP Pierce Johnson and LHP T.J. McFarland

Beware Of Bad Contract 

Even if upgrades are made across the board, Colorado would still have a lot to prove that it can be a contender before their farm system begins to make an impact in the Majors. There’s a growing belief that their window of opportunity will only open once the likes of Zac Veen and a slew of other top prospects – including current 40-man players like Ezequiel Tovar and Michael Toglia – begin to make their impact on the varsity squad. 

In the meantime, it would be wise to not bog down the payroll with a contract that will be an albatross in 2025 or 2026 or 2027. If that is their window for trying to repeat the successes of 2017-18, there needs to be a financial freedom to supplement the roster in order to really prop open the window for an annual run to Rocktober.

Another way to phrase it: don’t push all your chips into the center when you best hand of cards is still ahead of you.

Best Case Scenario: Don’t sign a five-year contract

Most Probably Scenario: Regret long-term contract after year-one

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