Rockies questions need answering as Meetings begin

Rockies questions need answering as Meetings begin

SAN DIEGO -- This week should be an exercise in answering questions for the new Rockies front office. Does the team really want to make the blockbuster trade that could transform its pitching? Will the Rox revamp their catching? How serious are they about the free-agent market?

The club's new front office, led by general manager Jeff Bridich, has arrived for the annual MLB Winter Meetings, which run through Thursday in San Diego.

Thus far, the Rockies' offseason has been more rumor smoke than fire.

A recent one with the Mariners possibly going after Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario and making him their designated hitter became more complicated when Seattle signed Nelson Cruz.

From the 2014 non-waiver Trade Deadline until recent weeks, reports suggested that the Mets were looking to trade for star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, or star outfielder Carlos Gonzalez. But by the recent General Managers Meetings, both teams were saying there was no deal coming.

However, this is the time of year when deals that seem dead come back to life -- or new ones can spring.

The Mets are still in the market for a shortstop, although recent reports suggest they have turned their attention to less-expensive trade options and free agents. Also, the Rockies have said they would listen to offers involving Tulowitzki and Gonzalez, but at no point have they said they were actively seeking deals. There is no mandate from ownership to move the salaries of Tulowitkzi and Gonzalez, who underwent season-ending surgeries last August. Also, if teams are spooked by the dicey injury histories of Tulowitzki and Gonzalez, it's unlikely the Rockies will sell low.

But the Mets have moveable pitchers such as lefty Jon Niese and righty Dillion Gee, plus a whole group of younger pitching prospects. Rockies and Mets fans will be watching to see if a match can be made.

Rosario, expected to make about $3.5 million in his first year of arbitration, presents an interesting case. His offensive numbers dropped in 2014 because of illness and injury, but he hit 49 home runs in '12 and '13. He could profile as a DH, used behind the plate on a limited basis by an American League team. The Orioles appear to be seeking a player who fits Rosario's profile, although they and the Rockies have not yet been linked by rumor. The Rockies will not be seriously involved with any catcher on the market if they don't deal Rosario.

Another possible trade candidate is outfielder Drew Stubbs, who is coming off a strong 2014 and is heading into his final year of arbitration. But Stubbs is valuable to the Rockies because he is a center-field option with power and speed.

Bridich said last week the team has been in contact with various free-agent starting pitchers, but it's not clear if Colorado will shore up the rotation via trades or free agency -- or a combination. Expect the Rockies to also address their bullpen, too.

Fans are encouraged to take part by filling the comments section at rockies.com this week with their own suggestions for getting the club back into contention.

The offseason Hot Stove is about to kick into full swing and we'll have all of the news covered with daily reports. Check for fresh content on a regular basis and take part in the comments section to have your voice heard.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, and like his Facebook page, Thomas Harding and Friends at www.Rockies.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.