The Rockies made their first free agent signing on Friday, bringing back José Ureña on a one year deal with a club option for 2024.
Starting pitching is one of their biggest needs, and, with only $3 million leaving the Rockies' hands, this is a fairly cost-efficient, low-risk option to add some depth. Ureña, picked up in May after he was released by the Brewers, made 17 starts for Colorado with a 5.14 ERA and 91 ERA+.
"I'm so thankful for this organization what they did to me, it mean a lot" Ureña said after his last start of the season. "I like playing here."
But one move doesn't solve their problem. And they still lack depth and star power at a crucial position.
Ureña was inconsistent last year, but did give them over five innings on all but three starts. They are also working on his two-seamer and changeup to play better at altitude.
As of now, Ureña will enter spring training in line for a rotation spot. Germán Márquez and Kyle Freeland have the two other confirmed spots, with Antonio Senzatela filling one when he's back from his ACL injury. If everything goes as planned, Senzatela could be back in the first month of the season.
That leaves Ureña, Ryan Feltner and Austin Gomber, who will be given consideration as a starter again after spending most of last season in the bullpen. Noah Davis, who debuted in the last game of the season as a reliever, is their only other arm that is close to being major league ready, but he'll likely start the season in the minors.
They have pitching prospects lower down their system — Joe Rock, Jaden Hill and Gabriel Hughes just to name a few — but their timelines have them projected to debut in 2024 or 2025.
The Rockies haven't said if they'd like to increase their payroll in 2023, or by how much if they do. But the way their contracts are set up, it's inevitable they are going to have to either trade away some of their pricier contracts or spend more than in 2022. They owe Nolan Arenado $16 million, the largest of their remaining payments to the formal star they shipped off to St. Louis. Kris Bryant, Germán Márquez and Kyle Freeland will also be owed significantly more in 2023.
They saved money on Ureña, but that likely won't be the case with other free agents. It's too early to know what the going price will be for starters, but Clayton Kershaw, for example, took close to $20 million to sign with the Dodgers.
At this point, pretty much everyone is still out there. The market hasn't been open for a full week yet, and veterans still have until Thursday to decide on qualifying offers. Things will typically pick up during the Winter Meetings in December.