Rockies Mailbag: Why would Trevor Story sign with last-place Rangers over Colorado?

Denver Post sports writer Patrick Saunders with the latest installment of his Rockies Mailbag.

Pose a Rockies — or MLB — related question for the Rockies Mailbag.

Why would Trevor Story want to go to the Texas Rangers? They were worse than the Rockies.
— Sandra Spraker, Salina, Kan.

Sandra, that’s an excellent question.

Let’s start with something Story said during the final series of the season in Phoenix. He was essentially saying farewell to Colorado.

“I’ve always said that winning is at the top for me, and culture and environment,” Story said. “Obviously geography. There are a bunch of different things that go into it, a lot of those that we will hold close to our vest.”

There is a lot to digest there, but “obviously geography” is a big part of the reason why Story just might sign with the Rangers. Story was born and raised in Irving, Texas, which is close to the Rangers’ home in Arlington. He still makes his offseason home in the Dallas area.

And while you’re correct that the Rangers (60-102) were worse than the Rockies (74-87), the Rangers are expected to be big spenders this offseason. In other words, they have bottomed out and are looking to rebuild quickly.

According to a Nov. 1 story in MLB.com, general manager Chris Young and president of baseball operations Jon Daniels said Texas plans to be “active and aggressive” in free agency and that it’s gotten the go-ahead from ownership to spend big if necessary.

Story harbors no ill will toward the Rockies, but from what I’ve been told he doesn’t believe the franchise is close to being a contender.

And, of course, you can’t discount the money factor. It remains to be seen which team will offer Story the best deal.

Greetings, Patrick. I think Bud Black is entering the final year of his contract, correct? If so, why haven’t the Rockies given him an extension yet? Or maybe he’s not coming back?
— Eric, Broomfield

Eric, interesting that you brought this up. I had a source tell me recently that he’d heard that Black was talking to the Rockies about a contract extension. I checked that out with general manager Bill Schmidt, who told me that wasn’t true. Schmidt added, however, that talks with Black are certainly possible in the coming months.

In February 2019, as Black entered the final year of his initial three-year contract, he signed his current deal. So I wouldn’t read too much into the fact that Black has not been extended yet.

Having said that, there are no guarantees Black will be around past the 2022 season. For one thing, Black is 64. For another, perhaps he might consider another job outside of Colorado if one emerges.

Finally, who knows how Schmidt and Black will get along over the long haul? From what I’ve witnessed and been told, the two get along well and share a vision of what the Rockies need to do in order to get better.

Still, GMs often like to pick their own managers. That was certainly the case with former Rockies GM Jeff Bridich. He had a very contentious and volatile two-year relationship with Walt Weiss, who left after the 2016 season.

Now that free agency is in full swing, I would like to know how free agency works for minor league players, specifically Triple-A players. If Triple-A players had one-year contracts, and they do not re-sign with that team, are they considered free agents? Since Triple-A players rarely have multi-year contracts, I am assuming there would be many Triple-A free agents from which teams can choose. My second question, if this is true, where can we see a list of Triple-A free agents?
— Judy, Denver

Judy, let’s start with the basics. Players become minor league free agents when they’ve been released from their original contract or after their first six full seasons in the minors. So, essentially, a team can “cut” them, thus making them free to sign with whatever team they want. Or the player can simply start searching after six full seasons.

Also, without getting too technical, if you hear about or read that a player is “outrighted,” it essentially means that a player is being “assigned outright to the minor leagues.”

The first time it happens in a career, the player must accept the assignment. Thereafter, a player has the choice of either rejecting the assignment and becoming a free agent immediately, or the player can accept the assignment and become a free agent at the end of the season if he has not been returned to the 40-man roster.

A player with three years of major league service time may refuse an outright assignment and choose to become a free agent immediately or at the end of the season.

As far as tracking minor league free agents, Baseball America is a good place to find that information.

Or you can go to MLB.com, pick a team, then look at that team’s transaction page. For example, here is a link to the Rockies transaction page: mlb.com/rockies/roster/transactions

I remember hearing a couple of years back (maybe it was a rumor) that the Rockies were possibly coming out with a new jersey or design. Any truth to this?
— Anthony M., Parker

Anthony, I remember that “rumor.” It was based on an email from owner Dick Monfort to a fan. I don’t know if the email was genuine or not, and it was unclear whether Monfort was referring to the 2021 team, the 2022 team or simply a new, alternate jersey. As far as I know, there are no plans to revamp the uniforms.

Greetings Patrick. You are covering just about every sport in Colorado but hockey, or is that coming? With the demands of covering a large outfield that is Coors Field, I am intrigued by Chris Taylor’s versatility. His regular stats were pedestrian, but he doesn’t shrink when the moment is big. Of the possible outfielders after him, Kris Bryant would be nice, if affordable or Starling Marte. I haven’t watched the other players enough for the old eye test. To go all-in for raw numbers over sub-par defense is a gamble at Coors, in my humble opinion.
— Robert Emmerling, Limon

Robert, believe me, you don’t want me covering hockey.

As for Taylor, I know that Rockies manager Bud Black likes Taylor’s versatility, and you’re right, he’s come up big in big moments. But as someone with the Rockies told me, you’ve got to wonder how Taylor will perform if he has to be “the big cheese.” After all, he was surrounded by a lot of stars with the Dodgers.

Marte would be the best fit in center field, from a fielding perspective. But he’s 33 and the thinking is that he might be the missing piece for a contending team.

In Sunday’s Denver Post, I charted out the top free-agent outfield prospects.

What does this team have to do to become relevant or close to .500 in the offseason through free agency (and what is most likely to happen with this GM)? What young kids in the farm system should we hope pop this spring in order to reach .500? Looking for any signs of hope.
— Aaron, Frustrated Rockies fan in Littleton

Aaron, that’s a broad question but I’ll give it a shot:

* I do think the Rockies have a chance to be a .500 team in 2022, but I don’t think they’ll be a playoff contender.

* It’s no secret that they need to find a power-hitting outfielder (or even two, at a lower cost), a couple of bullpen arms (possibly a closer), possibly a veteran starting pitcher (if they can’t re-sign Jon Gray), and a replacement for Trevor Story at shortstop. Not all of those needs will be filled via free agency.

* As for the kids in the system, lefty starter Ryan Rolison will be important but he’s also likely to experience growing pains in 2022. The same goes for right-hander Ryan Feltner. Perhaps outfielder Ryan Vilade or Colten Welker will provide some pop to the order. I’m also intrigued by left fielder Connor Joe, though at 29 he is hardly a kid.

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