Monday Rockpile: Three non-tendered free agents the Rockies could pursue

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Colorado Rockies news and links for Monday, November 20, 2023

Friday marked the deadline for MLB teams to tender contracts to players not already under a guaranteed deal or eligible for free agency. The non-tender deadline seems to grow each year, flooding the free agent market with more and more options for other clubs to pursue.

The Colorado Rockies were involved by non-tendering RP Tommy Doyle – who was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for newly acquired RHP Cal Quantril. While Quantrill has big league success to his name, he certainly wasn’t the biggest pitcher to depart his previous organization. That title belongs to Brandon Woodruff and the Milwaukee Brewers, who non-tendered the seven-year veteran after a late-season shoulder surgery put his health into question heading into his final year of arbitration.

While Woodruff would certainly be a major acquisition for any franchise, the uncertainty of shoulder and minimal remaining years of control makes him a risky proposition for a rebuilding club like the Rockies.

Skyler Timmins recently looked at three starters that could make sense for Colorado, but there are still plenty of options for Colorado to choose from on both sides of the ball. With that in mind, let’s look at three recently non-tendered players that may be worth adding for the Rockies this off-season.

Dakota Hudson

While the Quantrill acquisition certainly helps Colorado’s plans for the rotation, they are still paper-thin in the area and need to continue adding in that department to fill innings in 2024. In Hudson – who was recently cut loose by the St. Louis Cardinals – there is a veteran starter with a previous history of success to his name coming off a decline in recent seasons…much like Quantrill.

Between 2018-2020, Hudson posted a 3.17 ERA over 241 IP, making 40 starts while striking out 186 and allowing just 27 home runs during that span. But he went under the knife for Tommy John surgery in September of 2020, essentially keeping him out of action until 2022.

That’s where Hudson’s career started to unravel. In 221 IP over the past two years, his ERA jumped to 4.64 while his strikeouts fell to just 123. He still gets ground-balls at a high-rate, posting a 51.7% GB% in 2023, however his average fastball velocity has fallen to 91.4 MPH – a drop of over two MPH from his 93.6 mark in 2019.

While Hudson has fallen off in recent seasons, he’s still an archetype the Rockies front office loves to employ with a track record of success.

Nick Senzel

The second-overall selection of the 2016 draft, Senzel always wore the label of a future batting-title hitter. His career .303/.380/.492 line in the minors over 1007 ABs suggests much of the same. However, in the majors…it’s just never clicked.

In five MLB seasons, Senzel holds a .671 OPS and negative-1.8 fWAR in 377 games. His peripherals are fairly in-line with league average figures and he has shown flashes of brilliance. But overall, Senzel wasa just never able to put it all together with the Cincinnati Reds and make the most of his potential.

As a competent infielder with the ability to moonlight in the outfield, Senzel best serves as a versatile bench player that could fill in as a spot starter. Though he does have draft pedigree, his lack of production in the majors could make him a low-risk, high-reward player for Colorado to take a chance on…especially if they choose to move a veteran asset like Ryan McMahon or Brendan Rodgers for a higher-caliber starter.

Spencer Turnbull

It wasn’t long ago that Turnbull was viewed as a borderline ace for the Detroit Tigers. The 2019 season was a disaster on the surface for him based on his 3-17 record – but it was an abysmal season for everyone on the 114-loss Detroit team and there were peripheral figures that supported Turnbull’s ability despite the lackluster record.

He posted strong figures in 20 starts between 2020 and 2021, striking out just short of one-batter-per-inning, averaging around 94 MPH on his fastball and maintaining an elite GB% well over the 50% threshold. He even put together a no-hitter against the Seattle Mariners in May of 2021, the eighth in Detroit history.

He lasted just three more games that season before undergoing Tommy John, however. He lost all of the 2022 season recovering and didn’t pitch again for 16 months post-surgery. His return in 2023 was rocky, holding a 7.26 ERA in seven starts with the big league club before getting demoted to the minors to re-calibrate. The results never came at the lower levels though, as he held a 6.23 mark in 26 IP with just a mild jump in his strikeouts to show for it.

His fastball velo dropped over a full MPH from 2021 to 2023 while his BB% rose over four-percent to a 10.3% figure. His Barrel % and Hard-Hit% jumped significantly while his K% fell over five-percent to 16.6%. All of this resulted in an xBA of .286 compared to a .206 posting in 2021.

While technically recovered from surgery, Turnbull never appeared to look like his old-self in 2023. It could be an indication of the ability he has now, or it could be an aberration of a season as part of the recovery process for a talented righty. For the Rockies, seeing if he can rekindle his old form could be a gamble worth taking.

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Title: Monday Rockpile: Three non-tendered free agents the Rockies could pursue
Author: Kenneth Weber

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