DENVER -- It looks as if Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd will wait until after the holidays to continue his shopping for a relief pitcher -- the last big-ticket item on the club's list.
The Rockies have been exploring free agency and trades for a late-innings reliever, who can augment closer Huston Street and right-handed setup men Rafael Betancourt and Matt Belisle. But they're not going to rush.
"I think it's going to be after the first of the year if we're going to engage in something," O'Dowd said. "It's one thing to want to add someone, but it's quite another we feel if we make a bad decision in the process. There were guys we had interest in, but we weren't willing to go far enough to do that."
It's been a lucrative time to be a setup man. Signings include Joaquin Benoit with the Tigers for three years and $16.5 million, Jesse Crain with the White Sox for three years and $13 million, Scott Downs with the Angels for three years and $15 million, Matt Guerrier with the Dodgers for three years and $12 million and Bobby Jenks with the Red Sox for two years and $12 million.
O'Dowd said the Rockies, who have rarely gone past one year for a reliever in recent years, would be willing to engage in a multiyear deal but only under the right circumstances.
The Rockies were reported to be interested in the Mariners' David Aardsma, who went to Cherry Creek High in the Denver area, but multiple sources with knowledge of both teams told MLB.com that the Mariners are in search of an impact bat and there isn't a fit with the Rockies.
The Rockies have interest in righty Grant Balfour, but he is classified as a Type A free agent who was offered arbitration by his former team, the Rays. The Rockies aren't willing to give up a first-round pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. A sign-and-trade would work for the Rockies, however. Free agents Jon Rauch, Chad Qualls and Todd Coffey are among those on the Rockies' wish list.
O'Dowd also acknowledged that the Rockies will continue to monitor left-hander Jeff Francis, who is seeking a greater guaranteed deal elsewhere. The Rockies did not pick up Francis' 2011 option but would like to keep him on a low-risk deal. The Rockies also would like to retain left-hander Joe Beimel, now a free agent.
However, the Rockies also are limited in what they can do. They have just one open spot on their 40-man Major League roster, so signing more than one player to a Major League deal would require an additional move.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.