McGee avoids arbitration with 1-year contract

McGee avoids arbitration with 1-year contract

DENVER -- Lefty reliever Jake McGee, whose first season with the Rockies was hampered by a left knee injury in June and a subsequent slump, reached a one-year, $5.9 million contract with the club on Friday to avoid arbitration.

McGee, 30, went 2-3 with 15 saves in 19 chances, and he had a 4.73 ERA in 57 games. He'll return as a late-innings option for new manager Bud Black. McGee's signing was first reported in a tweet from Today's Knuckleball.

McGee is the second of five arbitration-eligible Rockies to sign this week. Righty reliever Jordan Lyles inked a one-year deal for $3.175 million on Wednesday. On Friday, the Rockies tendered contract offers to the others -- third baseman Nolan Arenado, center fielder Charlie Blackmon and righty starting pitcher Tyler Chatwood.

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The club did not offer 2017 contracts to righty relief pitcher Matt Carasiti and first baseman-outfielder Stephen Cardullo (.212, 2 HRs, 6 RBIs), who made their Major League debuts in 2016. But both could end up remaining in the Rockies' organization. The moves leave the Rockies with 37 players on their 40-man roster.

Acquired from the Rays last winter as part of deal that sent outfielder Corey Dickerson to Tampa Bay, McGee had a solid start with 15 saves in his first 18 chances as the Rockies' closer. But he couldn't find consistency after sustaining a left knee sprain on June 10.

The injury turned out to be a residual from a meniscus injury McGee sustained in 2015, his final year with the Rays. To regain form, McGee said at the end of the regular season that he'll pay greater attention to leg strength, which will help him keep the knee stable.

Speaking to media this week, Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich said he expects a bounce-back year not only from McGee, but from two veteran righties who were signed last winter but struggled in 2016. Jason Motte (0-1, 4.94 ERA in 30 games) went on the disabled list twice with right rotator cuff issues, and Chad Qualls (2-0 5.23 ERA in 44 games) made just nine second-half appearances after a bout with colitis.

The Rockies have acknowledged pursuing free agents who could give the bullpen a boost -- righty closer Mark Melancon and lefty Mike Dunn. But they will need expected production from those who struggled in 2016.

"Jake showed flashes of it for a few months, basically half of the year," Bridich said. "Chad and Jason Motte, it was much more kind of up and down, and then injuries and missed time. They were brought in to stabilize and provide some veteran experience. I believe they can do that. It did not work out, obviously, the way anybody involved wanted it to."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.