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Colorado Rockies 2016 offseason review

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Manager Walt Weiss is back for a fourth season in Denver.
Manager Walt Weiss is back for a fourth season in Denver.
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Up next in our review of the offseason of National League West teams is the Colorado Rockies, who have finished in last place three times in the last five years.

Snapshot

2015 record: 68-94, fifth place NL West

2016 Rockies games in LA: June 6-8, July 1-3, September 22-25
2016 Dodgers games in Col: April 22-24, August 2-4, August 29-31

More info: Purple Row

Beat writers to follow: @harding_at_mlb@psaundersdp@nickgroke

Free agents

The big additions were the two relievers, who will help. See below.

Trades/waivers

Oct. 14: Lost pitcher Brooks Brown on waivers to the Dodgers.

Nov. 24: Traded pitcher Tommy Kahnle to the White Sox for minor league pitcher Yency Almonte.

Nov. 25: Traded pitcher Rex Brothers to the Cubs for minor league pitcher Wander Cabrera.

Jan. 28: Traded outfielder Corey Dickerson and minor league third baseman Kevin Padlo to the Rays for pitchers Jake McGee and German Marquez.

Feb. 5: Lost pitcher Christian Friedrich on waivers to the Angels.

Notable NRIs

Noel Cuevas is one of the non-roster invitees to Rockies big league camp. The outfielder was traded by the Dodgers to Colorado last offseason as the player to be named later in the deal for Juan Nicasio.

Old friend Alex Castellanos is also with the Rockies, on a minor league deal, but has no invitation to big league camp in spring training.

Pen is mightier

The Rockies were aggressive in adding to its relief staff, signing veterans Jason Motte and Chad Qualls to two-year deals. Motte hasn't been the same since recovering from Tommy John surgery, putting up a 4.17 ERA, 4.59 FIP and 16.1-percent strikeout rate in the last two seasons compared to a 2.43 ERA, 2.94 FIP and 26.9-percent K rate with the Cardinals in 2010-2012, before the surgery. Perhaps the Rockies are hoping to catch lightning in a bottle with Motte, now further removed from his elbow procedure.

Qualls has been effective, putting up a 3.38 ERA and 3.32 FIP over the last three years to go along with 1 20.7-percent strikeout rate. But the real prize was Jake McGee, acquired from the Rays. The left-hander has a career 2.77 ERA and 2.58 FIP in his career, and a 30.8-percent strikeout rate.

Colorado relievers in 2015 ranked last in ERA (4.70), FIP (4.56), strikeout rate (17.6 percent) and walk rate (9.2 percent).

Suspended animation

With Jose Reyes facing a criminal trial stemming from an offseason incident with his wife, the question isn't if he will be suspended under Major League Baseball's new domestic violence policy but for how long.

Reyes is due $22 million in 2015, and if he were to be suspended for 25 games, for instance, that's just over $3 million the Rockies wouldn't have to pay, and it could be even longer.

That saved money could go toward shortstop Ian Desmond, still out there on the free agent market and the Rockies are apparently interested. That would cost a draft pick if the Rockies signed Desmond, which would seem antithetical to their roster rebuild.

What direction?

But are the Rockies rebuilding? As mentioned they signed two veteran relievers to two-year contracts, though only for a total of $16 million. Those, coupled with three years and $27.5 million for Gerardo Parra seem like reasonably fine moves in a vacuum, but more the types of moves a team closer to contention would make.

The Rockies have averaged over 93 losses the last five years, never losing fewer than 88 games in a season during that span.

But they traded four years of Dickerson for two years of McGee, something a team in contention might do. All is not lost though, as McGee can easily be flipped either in July or next offseason, and one would think Carlos Gonzalez and/or Charlie Blackmon could fetch a nice return if put on the market. The sooner that Colorado realizes it is in a rebuild, the better for them.

The plan

Outlook

The bullpen is improved and the club will probably hit, but the Rockies don't have he starting pitching to contend in this division. With the Dodgers depth and the improvements from San Francisco and Arizona I think Colorado is headed for another 90-loss season, or close to it.