Cargo Return: Rockies Roster Realignment
The Rockies and Carlos Gonzalez are on the verge of reuniting.
Having turned down a four-year contract extension last spring to become a free agent in the fall, Gonzalez got caught up in what has been a slow-moving market this winter, and instead of landing the lucrative multi-year deal agent Scott Boras had envisioned, details were being worked out on Friday for what is believed to be a one-year deal for his returning to the Rockies.
Neither side is commenting on the discussions, but the pending signing has been reported by various media outlets.
Colorado is where Gonzalez wanted to be all along, and Gonzalez is a player his Rockies teammates have made it clear they would like to have back in uniform.
Even a year ago, when Gonzalez had the least productive full season of his career, he impacted the clubhouse when the Rockies were en route to claiming the second NL wild-card bid with his clubhouse presence. Off the field he never lost his ability to reach out, particularly to younger players, to make them feel part of the team.
He has an ability to lighten the atmosphere in challenging times, never once feeling sorry for himself.
Never once did he publicly feel sorry for himself last year.
And what can’t be overlooked in a season in which the three-time All-Star hit .262 with 14 home runs was the impact he had in September when the Rockies staved off the Brewers for the wild-card spot. In the stretch drive he led the Rockies with a .377 average and 22 runs scored while hitting six home runs and driving in 16 runs.
Potential roster juggling with the return of Gonzalez:
--Cargo returns to right field in place of Gerardo Parra, who came to spring expected to make the move from left field to right field.
--Parra returns to left field with the idea he could fill in on days off in center field for Charlie Blackmon and right field for Gonzalez.
--Raimel Tapia, a left field candidate, returns to Albuquerque and assumes a role similar to last year, when the Rockies called him up six times.
--David Dahl, a left field candidate, is optioned to Albuquerque and given a chance to regroup after being limited to 19 minor league games last year because of a stress fracture in his rib cage near his backbone.
--Michael Tauchman and Noel Cuevas become the left-right combo off the bench as backup outfielders.
--Ryan McMahon gets tested in the final two weeks of the season against pitching staffs that are cut down, and he faces primarily big-league pitchers. Then the Rockies decide if McMahon, who spent three months at Triple-A Albuquerque last year, is ready to assume the first base job at Coors Field.
--Ian Desmond fills in whatever void arises – in left field or at first base – or assumes the super-sub role the Rockies felt he would eventually handle when they signed him to a five-year free-agent contract a year ago.
Barring injury there would seem to be two non-Gonzalez related decisions left to be made in the 19 remaining days before the Rockies open the season against the Diamondbacks in Phoenix – the fifth starter and backup catcher.
With Jeff Hoffman sidelined by shoulder soreness, six pitchers remain alive in bids for the five spots in the rotation. Antonio Senzatela would seem the odd man out while he works on becoming comfortable with a changeup and curveball.
Give Tony Wolters the edge as the backup to catcher Chris Iannetta with Tom Murphy going to Albuquerque so he can catch every day with the expectation he will eventually take over for Iannetta as the No. 1 catcher.
The final decisions will be interesting, but they do underscore the development of the franchise.
These Rockies are looking at who they are going to be forced to send down to get the roster 25.
It’s a far cry from the old days when the Rockies spent the final days of spring trying to figure out how to fill out the 25-man roster.