Can Rockies Pluck Odorizzi Before Dodgers?

By: Jason Mumm

Jake Odorizzi
Jake Odorizzi threw for a 3.35 ERA last year for Tampa Bay with 150 strikeouts. He is being pursued by both the Rockies and Dodgers. (John Blackner / Getty Images)

Over the past weeks, rumors have swirled that the Rockies have entertained talks with: the Rays, Royals, Nationals, Cubs, Orioles and Cardinals in various trades involving the Rockies outfielders, including Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon, and Corey Dickerson. So far, nothing tangible has come from those rumors, but a recent report by Fox Sport’s Ken Rosenthal suggests the Rockies and Rays may be looking into a trade of prospects that could potentially bring Jake Odorizzi to Denver in exchange for outfield prospects David Dahl and/or Raimel Tapia.  At the same time, The Dodgers have expressed interest in Odorizzi too with the signing of Hisashi Iwakuma now on hold.

In a game where the rich get richer and the Rockies get, um, rockier, the idea that the Rockies might outmaneuver the Dodgers for a key signing might seem remote.  In this case though, if it’s true that the Rays are looking for outfield prospects, the Rockies have some depth in that department that the Dodgers may not be able to match – or at least not care to match.

Odorizzi is a young (26 years old) RHP who went 9-9 last year with a 3.35 ERA and 150 strikeouts.   He’s seen serious starting duties since 2014 with 168 (31 games) and 169.1 (28 games) innings pitched in 2014 and 2015, respectively.  He has four years left on his contract but is subject to arbitration next year.  He is due $500,000 next year and $15.3m for the following three years without any contract extension.  The Rays are currently in discussions with Odorizzi to extend his contract and thus increase the future payouts.  Odorizzi has the kind of pitching qualities that indicate he can be successful at Coors field.  He gave up just 18 home runs in his 169 innings in 2015 and was hard for batters to square up against.  He forces a good number of ground balls when he’s not striking batters out and throws an effective splitter, which has worked well for pitchers at Coors field.

The Rockies have not only a talented starting outfield featuring Carlos Gonzalez, but two impressive prospects to deal if needed.  David Dahl is the Rockies’ third-ranked prospect and the 47th-ranked prospect in the MLB.  Tapia is the Rockies’ 8th-ranked prospect, 99th in the MLB.  Both bat from the left side and are 21 years old.  Tapia showed a bit more poise at the plate last year if minor league stats mean anything.  The Dodger on the other hand do not have MLB-ranked outfield prospects to deal like the Rockies do.  Alex Verdugo and Yusniel Diaz would be their top two, and Diaz would come with some hefty contract baggage as the Dodgers signed the Cuban to a $15.5m contract last year.

Odorizzi would be an important pick up for the pitching-starved Rockies and could offer the team some immediate strength in the starting rotation.  Meanwhile, the Dodgers have pitching depth despite the Iwakuma fail, including a slew of highly regarded pitching prospects nearing big league readiness.  On the other hand, the Dodgers are positioning to win a championship in 2016 and the Rockies…well the Rockies aren’t likely to contend.  In terms of demand, Odorizzi is critical for the Rockies’ current rebuilding effort, while he may be a mere temporary plug for a Dodgers team that looks to go deep in the playoffs this year.

All things considered, this appears to be a deal that the Rockies should be seriously considering.  Giving up prospects from an area where they have developed some depth to get proven starting pitching is exactly the kind of deal the Rockies need to find if they are to start rebuilding a pitching staff that has redefined “terrible” in the last two years.  Dahl and Tapia figure to be part of the Rockies’ future and parting with both to get Odorizzi may not be wise, but parting with one of the two should be something GM Bridich strongly considers.

Update (12/26/2015) –  Word is that the Cardinals have now expressed interest in Odorizzi as well.
The Rockies may have an advantage over even the Cardinals in the bid for Odorizzi assuming the Rays really are looking for outfield prospects in exchange and not something else.  The Rockies prospects of Dahl and Tapia are more highly regarded than the Cardinals top two prospects.  The Cardinals list Magneuris Sierra and Nick Plummer as their best outfield prospects; neither is a top-100 MLB prospect (Dahl and Tapia are).

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