NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The approved increase in payroll is real.
Rockies owner, president and CEO Dick Monfort said last month that the team will increase its payroll, which set a team record at $120,586,480 at the end of last season. General manager Jeff Bridich has been operating that way, having seriously approached free-agent first basemen Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion, whose price tags could conservatively exceed $75 million and require deals of four or five years.
But the Rockies' final payroll ranked 19th in the Majors in 2016. So Bridich keeps getting questions that amount to, "Seriously, can you really increase the payroll?"
Tuesday at the Winter Meetings, Bridich answered that if a big contract is necessary, and the player is right, he can go where he needs to go. And Monfort will allow it.
"He and I are saying the same things right now," Bridich said. "It seems like it. We've talked about it. We're totally in lockstep on all this stuff. Dick and I communicate every single day."
So money does not appear to be a prohibiting factor in filling the first-base opening, where the team needs run production.
"It's not like we've done anything to that degree here yet, and I don't know if we will, but we're not just talking about these things about our payroll growing and planning on turning around and doing the exact opposite," Bridich said. "We're talking about them because we believe that will happen and we're expecting that to happen."
But Bridich will not spend just to spend, which is why he has spoken to essentially every available first baseman. So if the Rockies don't land Trumbo or Encarnacion, they can pursue an idea such as signing veteran Mike Napoli, late of the Indians, on a contract shorter than what it would take for Trumbo or Encarnacion. That's why Chris Carter, Adam Lind and Logan Morrison remain on the Rockies' radar.
Of course, trades to fill the first-base hole and improve the bullpen are also an option.
As MLB.com reported Monday, according to multiple Major League sources, the Rockies had preliminary talks during last month's General Managers Meetings with the White Sox about power-hitting first baseman Jose Abreu, with the White Sox seeking multiple prospects to help their rebuilding effort. The White Sox, for example, received the MLBPipeline.com No. 1 prospect, infielder Yoan Moncada, right-handed pitcher Michael Kopech (No. 30), outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe (now White Sox No. 7) and right-handed pitcher Victor Diaz (now White Sox No. 29) for pitcher Chris Sale.
However, as of Tuesday there was no indication that discussions between the Rockies and the White Sox for Abreu had advanced this week. The Winter Meetings run through Thursday afternoon.
"As I've said before, we have been paying attention to any and all avenues of trying to upgrade ourselves at first base, and just like we're in touch with a lot of teams, we have been in touch with the White Sox about, not just Abreu, but also a variety of their players, because they have expressed an interest in seeing what they can get," Bridich said Tuesday. "So they've been a team that we've reached out to and we have had, in the past, conversations about a number of their players."
FOX Sports also tweeted the possibility of the Rockies acquiring third baseman Todd Frazier from the White Sox and converting him to first base.
Free-agent lefty Mike Dunn, a late-inning power arm with the Marlins last year, is the free-agent reliever most closely associated with the Rockies, and Bridich said the club has stayed in touch with Boone Logan, who had a strong 2016 in the final year of a three-year contract with the Rockies.
The Rockies also were one of many teams that had discussions with the Royals about closer Wade Davis, but the Cubs were reportedly nearing a deal for Davis on Tuesday night.
MLB.com and MLB Network will have wall-to-wall coverage of the 2016 Winter Meetings from the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center outside Washington, D.C. Fans can watch live streaming of all news conferences and manager availability on MLB.com, including the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday at 7 a.m. MST.
• Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez has discussed playing winter ball in Venezuela to prepare to represent his home country in the World Baseball Classic, but would need the Rockies' permission.
"We have to talk about that more specifically, what that actually looks like," Bridich said.