DENVER – Colorado Rockies owner Dick Monfort says nobody in the front office is worried that star Nolan Arenado will opt out of his $260 million contract in two years.
“If there’s a list of issues that we need to deal with, that is like No. 775 on the page,” Monfort said Tuesday. “So I don’t think any of us are really worried about it at this time.”
The 28-year-old third baseman had another productive season, hitting a career-high .315 with 41 homers and 118 RBIs and is likely to win his seventh consecutive Gold Glove Award.
The Rockies’ win total, however, plummeted from 91 to 71, the largest regression in franchise history.
Arenado, who signed the eight-year, $260 million contract in spring training, has said he does not want to be like former Rockies first baseman Todd Helton, who played his entire 17-year career with the team and went to the postseason just twice.
Monfort called the disappointing season “without a doubt the hardest year I’ve been through,” and vowed to “put all our efforts and all our money that we possibly can” toward solving the team’s issues.
Monfort spoke along with general manager Jeff Bridich and manager Bud Black at an 80-minute end-of-season media session at Coors Field on Tuesday.
In addition to the possibility of Arenado opting out of his contract after 2021, topics included: the poor play by first baseman Daniel Murphy, the Rockies’ only notable free-agent addition last winter; a new TV contract with AT&T Sports Networks; the major league coaching staff and how quickly the Rockies can bounce back after seeing their two-year playoff run snapped.
The five members of the opening day rotation ended the season on the injured list as did reliever Scott Oberg, shortly after assuming the closer’s role, and outfielder David Dahl, a first-time All-Star this year who had become the regular center fielder.
“Injuries were just part of the story,” Bridich said. “They’re not an excuse or an explanation of the whole season. But you can’t ignore it.”
The multi-year extension with AT&T Sports will begin in 2021 and increase the team’s revenues. Terms have not been announced, but Monfort said signing a free agent to a lucrative deal this offseason is unlikely.
The Rockies payroll this season was a record $156.6 million.
“I don’t think we have a lot of flexibility next year of making some great big splash,” Monfort said. “Now that doesn’t mean that we can’t get creative and do some things that will help if the right deal comes along.”
Murphy signed a two-year, $24 million contract last winter and is owed $14 million. He broke his left index finger diving for a ground ball in the second game of the season and missed 20 games. He hit .279 with 35 doubles, 13 homers and 78 RBIs in 132 games and did not play well at first base.
“I thought Daniel’s year all the way around was just OK,” Bridich said.
The Rockies expect Murphy to make a concerted effort to get in better shape before spring training.
“Did he play on a scouting scale an average first base? Probably not,” Black said. “I think another offseason with Daniel getting in work at first base and taking the steps he has told me he is going to take this winter to come back with a vengeance and play like he’s capable both on offense and defense – I think we’ll see a different Daniel Murphy next year.”
Black, who will be entering his third season as Rockies manager in 2020, has had little turnover on his coaching staff.
First base coach Tony Diaz left after 2018 to become third base coach for the Minnesota Twins. Hitting coach Duane Espy was fired after last season and replaced by Dave Magadan.
Bridich said it’s yet to be determined whether there will be any staff changes.
“Got to let the emotion of the season die down a little bit here,” Bridich said. “So we’ll catch up on some energy and some sleep and make some decisions in the coming weeks.”
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