Rockies will look for pitchers on market
Team has its sights on veterans Beimel, Penny to fill the staff
DENVER -- The Rockies have been trade-oriented this offseason, but late-game, left-handed pitching could be the team's main open-market focus now that teams are allowed to negotiate with other teams' free agents.
Multiple Major League sources say the Rockies will take a shot at Joe Beimel, a classic ground-ball pitcher who has given up one home run in 154 appearances over the last two seasons while pitching for the Dodgers, as well as Jeremy Affeldt, who helped the Rockies to the 2007 World Series but signed with the Reds last winter. Also, Eddie Guardado, Trever Miller, Mike Maroth and Ron Villone are potential targets.
The Rockies had a left-handed closer in Brian Fuentes, but never solidified the lefty setup role -- one Affeldt handled capably during the World Series run. Glendon Rusch was a starter and reliever for the Rockies last season, and he remains a possibility.
Rusch recently filed for free agency, but the Rockies have told him they needed to see where they stand after what promises to be an active early offseason.
Before sending left fielder Matt Holliday to the Athletics for a package that included former closer Huston Street, the Rockies were expected to take a look at right-handed relievers. But that whole project is on hold.
A slim-chance possibility is Fuentes, who is a free agent. The Rockies are offering him arbitration, just in case he doesn't find the contract he wants on an open market full of closers. If he signs elsewhere, the Rockies get two draft picks. If he accepts, he and the Rockies can reach a contract through the arbitration process.
The Rockies have told Street the plan is for him to compete with Manuel Corpas for the closer job. With the two of them, the Rockies have two closer types, plus several right-handers they like -- Taylor Buchholz (coming off an outstanding 2008 as the primary righty setup man), Luis Vizcaino, Ryan Speier and Jason Grilli.
But the Rockies haven't guaranteed they won't package Street in another deal, especially if it nets them a top-of-the-rotation starter. If that occurs, right-handed veterans could become Rockies targets.
As for starting pitching, the Rockies are committed to youth but could kick the tires on one of their tormentors, right-hander Brad Penny, whose 2008 with the Dodgers ended in mid September with shoulder pain. Penny is 6-1 with a 3.92 ERA in 11 starts at Coors Field, and 14-3 with a 3.06 ERA in 24 career starts against the Rockies.
The Rockies also have told outfielder Scott Podsednik, a reserve for them in 2008, that they'll have to see where they stand before deciding whether to try to retain him.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.