Rockies targeting veteran righties for rotation

Rockies targeting veteran righties for rotation

DENVER -- The Rockies' exploration for veteran pitching has them kicking the tires on several free agents.

Righties Kevin Correia, Aaron Harang, Josh Johnson and Kyle Kendrick are believed to be four of many available free agents with whom the Rockies have made initial contact and are monitoring this offseason. The Rockies' interest in Kendrick was first reported by ESPN on Thursday.

However, the Rockies are not believed to have begun serious negotiations with any pitcher. As is the case with several teams, the Rockies have not zeroed in on free agents because they are still exploring trade options. The club has been linked publicly to righty Dillon Gee, whom the Mets have made available, but thus far there have been more published reports than actual discussions.

The Rockies are looking for experience and depth for their starting rotation, which is projected to have lefty Jorge De La Rosa, righty Jhoulys Chacin (coming off a rotator cuff injury), lefty Tyler Matzek and righty Jordan Lyles.

Most of the possible targets have histories of getting ground-ball outs. Correia has a career 44.1 percent ground-ball ratio, Johnson 47.1 percent and Kendrick 47.1 percent, according to FanGraphs.com statistics. Johnson last pitched for the Blue Jays in 2013. He signed with the Padres before last season, but suffered a season-ending right elbow injury during Spring Training and underwent Tommy John surgery for the second time in his career.

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.