Rockies adding top prospect Chacin to bullpen

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When the Rockies pulled top prospect Jhoulys Chacin from his start at
Double-A last night “as a precaution for possible, future
organizational moves” there was speculation that a major trade was coming, but instead they’re promoting him to the big leagues to work out of the bullpen following news that Manny Corpas is headed for elbow surgery.

Last year was Chacin’s first full season as a pro and he went 18-3 with
a 2.03 ERA in 28 starts between two levels of Single-A as a
20-year-old, earning Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year honors
from MLB.com and ranking as the Rockies’ second-best prospect behind
Dexter Fowler according to Baseball America.

Chacin hasn’t been quite as dominant while moving up to Double-A this
season, but his 3.14 ERA and 86/35 K/BB ratio in 103.1 innings there is
extremely impressive for someone who won’t be 22 years old for another
six months. Unlike many top pitching prospects his strikeout numbers
haven’t been off the charts, with only 323 in 390 career innings.

However, to some extent Chacin pitches to contact with a hard sinker
that has induced 60 percent ground balls. Toss in solid control for
someone so young and the 6-foot-3 right-hander projects as a possible
No. 2 starter with some ace potential, but the Rockies are definitely
taking a risk by having him skip Triple-A to join their bullpen as a
21-year-old with 18 total starts above Single-A.

Colorado has a 1.5-game lead in the Wild Card race and the Rockies’
bullpen has been a relative weakness, so they no doubt think that the
possibility of Chacin having a big impact as a setup man makes it
worthwhile to risk some of his long-term development for a short-term
gain. We’ll see, but I’d certainly spend the next week trying to swing
a deal for a veteran reliever before rushing my top prospect to the
majors.

Astros talking to Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole about extensions

Justin Verlander
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It’s extension season and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros — who already agreed to an extension with Alex Bregman — are discussing contract extensions with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.

Funny thing about Verlander, by the way: when he got his current $180 million deal, most people fell into the “oh, there’s an overpay!” column. What’s more, this past winter, when everyone was talking about how bad it is to give guys big long term deals, Verlander’s name was notably absent in the conversation despite the fact that his deal has turned out to be quite good. I suppose that says something about how good the anti-long-term deal folks are at cherrypicking.

That being said, Rosenthal says “it would be an upset” if either Verlander or Cole signed extensions. I can see that. Verlander is locked up this year and has a vesting option for 2020, and a lot can happen in a year or two. Cole is a Scott Boras client and Boras clients tend to hit the market rather than sign extensions. Perhaps their former teammate, Dallas Keuchel‘s, terrible experience on the free agent market this winter will alter that calculus. Hard to say.