A look at the Rockies' free-agent track record

A look at the Rockies' free-agent track record

DENVER -- The Rockies' splash at last week's Winter Meetings culminated on Tuesday when they introduced their big offseason acquisition, welcoming Ian Desmond to Coors Field after his five-year, $70 million deal became official.

The versatile Desmond has been surveyed as one of the more intriguing free-agent signees this offseason, largely because the Rockies are committed to playing him at first base -- a position he's never played -- on the richest free-agent contract for a non-pitcher in franchise history.

For added context, MLB.com compiled a list of the Rockies' significant free-agent signings through the years:

OF Larry Walker, 1995
Perhaps the most successful free-agent acquisition in Rockies history, Walker was a four-time All-Star in Colorado, won seven Gold Gloves, won three National League batting titles and was the 1997 NL MVP. He remains the Rockies' all-time leader in batting average (.334), on-base percentage (.426), slugging percentage (.618) and OPS (1.044).

Initially signed for four years and $22.5 million with a team option for a fifth season, Walker received a six-year, $75 million extension before the '99 season that, at the time, was tied for the sixth-highest average annual salary in the game. After dealing with injuries in his 10th season in Denver, Walker was traded to the Cardinals for three prospects who never reached the Majors with the Rockies. Walker has been on the Hall of Fame ballot since 2011, but he has never appeared on more than 22.9 percent of the ballots.

1B Andres Galarraga, 1993
Galarraga was one of the first free agents the Rockies signed, a day before the 1992 Expansion Draft and months before their inaugural season in '93 -- a year in which Galarraga won the NL batting title with a .370 average that paved the way for a very successful five-year career in Colorado, highlighted by the club's first postseason berth in '95.

Galarraga signed a four-year extension worth $12 million, not including incentives, in '94 and left for the Braves via free agency in '98.

LHP Mike Hampton, 2001
Hampton's eight-year, $121 million contract -- which at the time was an MLB record in total dollars -- remains the richest in club history. Hampton was the market's most coveted lefty in '01 after earning National League Championship Series MVP honors a month earlier with the Mets and coming in second for the NL Cy Young Award with the Astros in 1999.

The first half of Hampton's debut season with the Rockies earned the left-hander an All-Star nod, but he struggled mightily in the second half. He played just two seasons in Colorado, going 21-28 with a 5.75 ERA and a 1.68 WHIP. He was traded to the Marlins along with Juan Pierre for Preston Wilson, Charles Johnson, Vic Darensbourg and Pablo Ozuna, then to Atlanta two days later, where injuries held him to just 25 starts over the final four years of the deal.

RHP Darryl Kile, 1998
Following the Rockies' first five seasons, in which their pitchers compiled an MLB-worst 5.29 ERA, the team set out to sign an ace, and it did so by outbidding the D-backs and Astros for Kile, who received a three-year deal worth $24 million -- which at the time trailed only Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Roger Clemens in average annual value.

Kile played just two seasons in Colorado, finishing '99 with an NL-worst 6.61 ERA, after which he was traded to the Cardinals.

LHP Denny Neagle, 2001
The Rockies signed Neagle a week before Hampton as part of an aggressive attempt to improve the starting staff and compete in an NL West that featured three above-.500 teams the previous season.

Neagle -- who earned a five-year, $51.5 million deal -- struggled during his stint in Colorado, going 19-23 with a 5.57 ERA. He was released after running into legal trouble in December 2004.

OF Ellis Burks, 1994
After a successful postseason stint with the White Sox, Burks left Chicago in favor of a three-year, $10 million contract with the Rockies. He played four-plus seasons in Colorado, hitting .306 with a .957 OPS, 115 homers and 337 RBIs. He finished third in NL MVP voting in '96.

Burks was dealt at the Trade Deadline in '98 for outfielder Darryl Hamilton and pitcher Jim Stoops. Burks joined the Indians' front office after a 17-year playing career.

OF Michael Cuddyer, 2012
Hoping to bring in a strong bat and veteran presence, former Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd signed Cuddyer to a three-year, $31.5 million deal after the '11 season. Cuddyer, who won the NL batting title and was an All-Star in '13, quickly became a fan favorite during his brief stint in Colorado.

Injuries limited him to just 49 games in '14, and he rejected the Rockies' qualifying offer that winter before signing a free-agent deal with the Mets. He retired in December after a 15-year career.

SS Walt Weiss, 1994
After contract negotiations broke down with the Marlins, Weiss signed a two-year deal with the Rockies worth $3 million with incentives -- a bargain given Colorado's need at shortstop. Weiss wound up playing four seasons in Denver, including the Rockies' first playoff run in '95, before leaving for the Braves in free agency.

Weiss later returned as a special assistant to O'Dowd from 2002-08, then became the club's manager in '13, a position he held until stepping down in October.

Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.