UNDER FURTHER REVIEW – It’s July—time’s come to talk Rockies trades

If off-season trade talk is The Hot Stove League, what should we call this time of year?

The Backyard Grill League? 

The Water Cooler League? 

The 2024 Major League Baseball Trade Deadline is July 30, instead of the usual July 31, which means it’s not quite four weeks away. 

And already there is no shortage of speculative pieces online and in print guessing at which teams will trade which players to which teams, and what the sellers will get in return.

Where the Rockies are concerned, that last part is what matters most.

It’s pretty much a given that last-place Colorado will move some veterans. The key is what general manager Bill Schmidt harvests in return.

The most likely players to go are pitcher Cal Quantrill, currently the unquestioned ace of an otherwise shaky rotation, and catcher Elias Diaz, voted last season’s MLB All-Star Game most valuable player, who has blossomed since reaching his 30s.

To those fans who would gasp at the thought of trading two of this season’s most productive Rockies, let me remind them: This club almost certainly will lose more than a hundred games this year with them. So, rest assured that they can lose a hundred or more without them.

Quantrill got off to a rocky start, but since the first of May has been impressive. He has averaged almost six innings per start, with an earned run average well under 3.00.

If this is a sign of things to come, he’d be a great block to build around. But with Chase Dollander, Carson Palmquist and Sean Sullivan impressing in the farm system, the Rockies should deal and hope that Kyle Freeland and German Marquez come back strong from injuries. (Remember, think the future.)

Atlanta, Philadelphia and Baltimore are among the contenders who will fortify their starting rotations with July trades. Who will offer the best pitching prospects for Quantrill’s solid contribution down the stretch?

Strengthening Schmidt’s hand, in Quantrill’s case, is his friendly current contract ($6.5 million) and the remaining year of arbitration eligibility, which assures the acquiring club another year of control, albeit at a higher price tag than he carries now.

As for Diaz, the popular belief is that the Yankees would part with righthander Clayton Beeter and another player to get better behind the plate. Beeter’s ERA in Triple-A is below 3.00. He’s projected to be a middle-of-the-rotation starter.

Diaz is expendable because of his age (33), the emergence of Hunter Goodman as a power threat at the Big-League level, and the presence of Drew Romo, the “catcher of the future” who is having a good season at Albuquerque. Goodman, who also plays outfield and first base, is 24; Romo 22.

There are other trade rumors, of course. 

One has Ryan McMahon going to Seattle for a pitcher who’s currently in Triple-A but has some experience with the Mariners, and a 19-year-old infielder now at Low-A Modesto.

Mac is having a better season than the last two, and maybe he’d fetch some prospects. But he’s viewed as a building block; maybe even a cornerstone.

I wouldn’t take this one too seriously.

Another has Austin Gomber going back to the Cardinals for unspecified return. 

This also is a dubious suggestion, in my book, but stranger things have happened.

Who else might bring some future value?

Jake Cave’s name has been mentioned. He’s an above-average defender. Hits lefthanded. Runs well. Affordable. Probably not a long-term Rockie in any scenario, considering his age (31) and the promising young players behind him, most notably Jordan Beck and Yanquiel Fernandez, not to mention Zac Veen, who remains a prospect despite injuries.

The question: Can Bill Schmidt get anything more than he gave up to acquire Cave from the Phils at the start of the season? (Answer: It shouldn’t be hard; that was an undisclosed amount of cash.) 

And here’s one that might shock some fans: Brendan Rodgers.

He’s 27 and a former Gold Glove second baseman. Contributes offensively—after April and when he’s not hurt. Could help a contender. 

And Adael Amador is in the wings, almost ready to team with Ezequiel Tovar in the middle of the infield. (Again, think the future.)

If these moves seem extreme, consider this:

At the halfway point last season, the Rockies had won 31 and lost 50. And we know how that ended.

Through 80 games in 2024, the record is 27-53.

Denny Dressman is a veteran of 43 years in the newspaper business, including 25 at the Rocky Mountain News, where he began as executive sports editor. He is the author of 16 books, nine of them sports-related. You can write to Denny at denny
dressman@comcast.net.