Rockies interested in contract extension for CarGo

Rockies interested in contract extension for CarGo

DENVER -- Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich confirmed Tuesday that the club is exploring the possibility of a contract extension for right fielder Carlos Gonzalez, although nothing is imminent.

"There's not a whole lot to say there," Bridich said in a conference call with beat reporters. "We've contemplated the possibility of an extension with him. We're hopeful we can at least explore that further. We feel like there's a good chance we'll be able to at least explore it further. After that, there's really not much to say."

Bridich said there is no timetable for discussions with Gonzalez, who is due to make a $20 million salary plus $428,571 on the final installment of the $3 million bonus that was spread over the seven-year, $80 million deal. Gonzalez said during a November visit to Venezuela that an extension was possible. ESPN's Jim Bowden reported this week that Bridich "made it clear" that he hopes to negotiate an extension.

A factor in whether the Rockies can reach an extension is the fact Gonzalez could find himself in a strong position compared to right fielders who will be free agents next season, because of his power and offensive production.

CarGo's four-hit game

Gonzalez, who will be in his age-32 season in 2018, has posted an .859 OPS with 65 home runs and 197 RBIs over the last two seasons and could be in a stronger position with a standout 2017. A comparable true right fielder who could hit the market after this season is the Mets' Jay Bruce, who has a .770 OPS, 59 homers and 186 RBIs over the last two years.

The potential of a contract extension for Gonzalez is another cog in what has been a busy offseason. The Rockies have already signed Ian Desmond, who will move to first base after playing shortstop and the outfield previously, for five years and $70 million, and lefty pitcher Mike Dunn for three years and $19 million. A contract agreement with utility player Alexi Amarista will not be official until Amarista arrives in Denver for a physical later this week.

An Amarista signing would put the Rockies' Major League roster at the limit of 40, but the club isn't done yet, Bridich said.

Bridich also said the Rockies continue to be "fairly active and engaged in both the free-agent market and potential trade market. The focus now is really on pitching, specifically on bullpen if possible, and other ways to improve our complementary players on the bench."

Bridich acknowledged the bullpen search includes interest in two prominent relievers -- former Royals closer Greg Holland, who was on the short list of the game's top closers in 2013 and 2014 before suffering an elbow injury in 2015 and missing the 2016 season, and Joe Blanton, who pitched for the Dodgers last year and has grown into one of the Majors' top righty setup men. Both are coveted by multiple teams.

Mark Trumbo, who led the Majors with 47 homers last season, remains a free agent, and Bridich said the Rockies have stayed in contact with the slugger. But the pursuit of a big-money deal with him ranks behind the bullpen on the priority list. Desmond is already working to shore up his fundamentals at first base, and is continuing that work with Rockies coach Ron Gideon, so the club will be covered even if Trumbo doesn't surprisingly end up signing with Colorado.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com 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.