Rockies manager Jim Tracy indicated that both Wilin Rosario and Jordan Pacheco would be in the lineup most of the time the rest of the season, sending veterans Chris Iannetta and Kevin Kouzmanoff to the bench.
Iannetta has a right to be upset by the arrangement. Among regular catchers, only Alex Avila (.391) and Carlos Ruiz (.371) have higher OBPs that Iannetta’s .370 mark this season. Only Avila (.907), Brian McCann (.843), Miguel Montero (.804) and Nick Hundley (.801) top him in OPS (Iannetta is at .779).
Rosario, in comparison, hit .249/.284/.457 in Double-A this year. He’s just 22 and he has the tools to excel defensively, but he’s likely a big downgrade from Iannetta right now and it’s doubtful he’ll overtake him at any point within the next year or two.
But Rosario is at least a prospect. Pacheco, 25, hit .278/.343/.377 as the catcher for Triple-A Colorado Springs this year. He was originally a middle infielder before converting, and the Rockies intend to give him most of his playing time at third base for now. At best, his versatility could make him a fringe major leaguer.
The Pacheco plan could be taken as a strong indication that the Rockies don’t like what they’ve seen from Kouzmanoff since grabbing him from the A’s earlier this month. Auditioning for a spot in the 2012 lineup, Kouzmanoff has hit .244/.306/.289 with no homers, one walk and 10 strikeouts in 45 at-bats. The Rockies will probably end up releasing him, trading Ian Stewart and going outside of the organization for a new third base solution for next year.
For what it’s worth, the Rockies are also going a bit younger at shortstop tonight, with Chris Nelson getting the start in place of Troy Tulowitzki. That’s likely a one-day thing, though, as Tulo is getting a night off to deal with a sore hip.
Free agent left-hander Rich Hill is rumored to be entertaining a three-year, $40+ million offer from the Dodgers, reports Peter Gammons. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo corroborated the report, adding that Hill could receive somewhere between $46 and $48 million from his former team.
Hill, 36, pitched to a 2.12 ERA and 3.91 FIP in back-to-back stints with the Athletics and Dodgers in 2016. While a chronic case of blisters on his pitching hand limited the frequency of his starts, he still figures to be one of the most productive and noteworthy starting pitchers on the market this winter.
The Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Astros have all been mentioned as potential suitors for the left-hander’s services, though Orioles’ GM Dan Duquette said the club has yet to make a play for Hill and ESPN’s Jim Bowden pointed out that the Red Sox are less involved in trade talks than other interested parties.
In light of the Astros’ deal for veteran designated hitter Carlos Beltran on Saturday, the Yankees are thought to be intensifying their pursuit of free agent Edwin Encarnacion, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Yankees never made an official offer to Beltran, but remain in need of a DH/first baseman to give them a little more power outside of a Tyler Austin–Greg Bird combo in 2017.
The Red Sox, on the other hand, are reportedly withdrawing their interest when it comes to the Encarnacion sweepstakes. According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, they will look for a hitter to beef up their lineup without taking a “big plunge” on the 34-year-old.
Encarnacion enjoyed another All-Star run with the Blue Jays in 2016, hitting at a .263/.357/.529 clip with 42 homers and a league-leading 127 RBI in 702 PA. He’s expected to command a significant contract in free agency, and agent Paul Kinzer said that a potential deal is unlikely to be finalized before the Winter Meetings as Encarnacion is not close to agreeing to any offer. Interested teams include the Blue Jays and the Astros, though Beltran’s signing appears to have effectively taken Houston out of the running for the slugger.