Rockies squash Tulo rumors, seek slugger
Club would consider forfeiting Draft pick to sign impact bat
DENVER -- The Rockies continue to put out the smoke from the Troy Tulowitzki trade rumors.
"He's not going anywhere, period," Rockies senior vice president of Major League operations Bill Geivett told MLB.com on Tuesday upon leaving the General Managers Meetings in Orlando, Fla., for a trip to the Dominican Republic.
Throughout the last week, various national reports had the Cardinals making a strong play for Tulowitzki, considered the game's best two-way shortstop when healthy. But Geivett's statement mirrors that of Rockies ownership, that the team wasn't looking to deal Tulowitzki, or left fielder Carlos Gonzalez, for that matter. Tulowitzki's name surfaced because the National League champion Cards are looking to upgrade at short.
With that rumor off the front burner, it's time to turn the focus of speculation other places:
• With the Rockies not wanting to meet defensive catcher Carlos Ruiz's asking price, the Rockies are likely to return to their original plan of pursuing a slugger for first base or the outfield.
One possible fit is right-handed-hitting Mike Napoli.
The World Series champion Red Sox made Napoli a qualifying offer, which means the team that signs him will have to give up a pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft. But because the Rockies will select among the top 10 in the first round (eighth overall), they would not forfeit their first pick but their second should they sign Napoli -- or, for that matter, outfielders Carlos Beltran, a switch-hitter, or Nelson Cruz, a right-handed hitter, who also received qualifying offers from their 2013 squads.
Napoli, 32, hit .259 with a .360 on-base percentage and an .842 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage), with 23 home runs and 38 doubles. Almost as important as those numbers is the fact he led the Majors by seeing 4.59 pitches per plate appearance in 2013. For a club that traditionally struggles offensively on the road and had a penchant for empty at-bats, Napoli could be a fine addition. However, the Red Sox are making re-signing him a priority, even though they have enough in-house candidates to replace him.
The Rockies would not give up a pick if they signed switch-hitting James Loney, who has put up big numbers at Coors Field as a visitor with the Dodgers and Rays, or left-handed-hitting Justin Morneau.
• With the Rockies dropping out of the bidding for Ruiz, the plan is to stick with power-hitting Wilin Rosario (.504 career slugging percentage, 49 home runs and 91 extra-base hits the last two years) and hope he continues to develop defensively. They liked the work of Jordan Pacheco when he moved from the corner-infield spots to catcher for the final days of last season.
Geivett and Rockies catching instructor Rene Lachemann will be watching Rosario and Pacheco in Dominican Winter League play.
The Rockies continue to pursue experienced, hard-throwing relievers. They've been connected to Brian Wilson, Grant Balfour, LaTroy Hawkins, Jesse Crain, Jose Veras and Joe Smith.