This offseason, the Rockies traded stalwart star Nolan Arenado to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Now, given Colorado’s relative budget constraints, that’s not an indefensible move; trading an expensive player for top prospects is certainly not an unheard of way to get cheaper and reset an organizational timeline. Except the Rockies received no real top prospects, and they’re also paying $14 million in Arenado’s salary this season. (If he doesn’t opt out, they’ll also be paying $21 million in 2023, along with other smaller payments throughout the lifetime of his remaining contract.)
It was a baffling move. Arenado so far has put up nearly identical numbers to his 2020 performance for the Cardinals (doing it in a non-Coors Field environment, too) and the Rockies are in last place at 8-13.
Now, Bridich is done, resigning today as part of a mutual agreement with the team.
Rockies GM Jeff Bridich has resigned.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) April 26, 2021
Rockies General Manager Jeff Bridich steps down and Greg Feasel has been named Club President. pic.twitter.com/nk3HyHYBu8
— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) April 26, 2021
Bridich had been in charge of baseball operations in Denver since the fall of 2014, deserving credit for the team’s two postseason runs in 2017 and 2018, when the Rockies won 87 and 91 games, respectively. But Colorado lost in the Wild Card game in 2017, and then fell to the Brewers in an NLDS sweep in 2018. The team’s biggest 2021 addition was probably the All-Star Game, so their slow start isn’t a surprise, but after over six seasons in charge and with organizational momentum stalled, it’s obvious why the team wanted to make a change.
Doing it now avoids Bridich managing the trade deadline, too, where he might not have had any incentive to focus on the long-term goals of the organization. The interim general manager, meanwhile, will presumably be somewhat empowered to make moves, albeit under more scrutiny from ownership ahead of a full-time replacement search after the year.
Running basseball ops for the Rockies is admittedly one of the more daunting jobs in sports. Dealing with assembling a team that competes half the year in a total outlier of a stadium has proven difficult. Since the team’s inception in 1993, they’ve only been the postseason (not counting the 2017 Wild Card Game loss) four times. They’ve advanced out of the Divisional round just once, during their World Series run in 2007, which saw them swept by Boston.
They also have to deal with a stacked division, with the Dodgers likely to sustain their dominance for at least the near-term, and franchises like the Padres on the ascent. It’ll take the right mindset to succeed, and whoever ownership hires should be empowered to be as creative as possible, because Colorado’s GM really does have to look for different types of talent to build a competitive roster at Coors Field. (It also makes player acquisition difficult in free agency.)
But, on the plus side: it’s an awesome ballpark in a cool city, and there are only thirty MLB jobs. They’ll be able to find someone qualified. Hopefully whoever they bring in fully leans into the weirdness of it all.