Rockies add more power to lineup with Kris Bryant
DENVER -- For every homer he hit as a kid, Kris Bryant’s grandparents rewarded him with a crisp $20.
Swinging for the fences with the Colorado Rockies will pay pretty well, too.
Bryant signed a seven-year, $182 million deal to power the Rockies to the playoffs, a place he’s been six of seven years over his career - and one Colorado hasn’t visited since 2018.
“I take a lot of pride in the fact that I’ve never played on a losing team in the big leagues and I don’t plan on doing that,” the outfielder/infielder said of joining a franchise that’s searching for its first NL West title. “I hope I can bring an attitude here that they already do have. I just hope to complement it and be a winning presence in the locker room.”
The arrival of the 30-year-old slugger follows the departure of infielder Trevor Story, who signed with Boston. Before Bryant’s arrival, this was looking like an offseason with not much sizzle for Colorado. The splashiest additions were reliever Alex Colome, starter Chad Kuhl and shortstop Jose Iglesias.
Bryant helped deliver a World Series title to the Chicago Cubs in 2016. He hopes to do the same with the Rockies, who have been to one World Series in their history (2007, swept by the Red Sox).
“I’m sure he had multiple, multiple offers,” said Rockies manager Bud Black, whose team has finished fourth in the NL West in each of the last three seasons. “But I really like the fact he wanted to be here.”
Bryant did his research on the Rockies before the 2013 June amateur draft, believing he might end up in the Mile High City. Instead, the Cubs selected him at No. 2 and the Rockies went with right-hander Jon Gray, who’s now with Texas after pitching seven seasons at hitter-friendly Coors Field.
“I love the city,” Bryant said. “I feel like I fit really well here.”
STEPPING IN, PART I
Iglesias has the task of replacing a fan favorite in Story. As Black pointed out, though, Story had to step in for a fan favorite in Troy Tulowitzki.
“You’ll find that most big league players are confident and they’re fine with replacing really good players,” Black said.
Iglesias is known more for his glove than his bat. He’s hit 44 career homers since appearing in the majors in 2011. He was an All-Star in 2015.
“I feel like a complete player nowadays,” Iglesias said.
STEPPING IN, PART II
It wasn’t that long ago - last season, in fact - when Ryan McMahon took over for perennial Gold Glove winner Nolan Arenado at third base. McMahon hit .254 with 23 homers last season (Arenado batted .255 with 34 homers for St. Louis).
Colorado recently rewarded McMahon with a $70 million, six-year contract. The idea was floated before the lockout and he thought about it while baseball was shut down. He accepted the deal once the lockout was lifted.
“The organization means a lot to me,” said McMahon, who was a second-round pick by Colorado in 2013. “These are people I’ve grown up with since the time I was 18.”
Bryant, Iglesias, Colome and Kuhl won’t be the only new faces around the Rockies. They also traded for outfielder Randal Grichuk in a deal that sent outfielder Raimel Tapia and prospect Adrian Pinto to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Grichuk figures to compete for playing time in the outfield and possibly as the designated hitter. He hit 22 homers last season.
ROOKIES TO WATCH
This is a veteran-laden team, with only a handful of younger players. There’s infielder Brendan Rodgers, the third overall pick in 2015 who hit .284 with 15 homers last season.
“We’re positioned in terms of experience and competitiveness to play well,” outfielder Charlie Blackmon said.
The Rockies open the season by hosting the Los Angeles Dodgers on April 8. They were 6-13 against the Dodgers last season.