The Coors Effect

June 7, 2009 7:38 AM

Rumor mill: Is a Hawpe trade in the works?

With the Rockies now looking to be out of the playoff race, naturally the trade rumors are beginning to swirl.

Carlos Gonzalez is in the majors, he's probably there to stay, and he's probably not up to ride the pine.  That gives the Rockies four outfielders who are probably good enough to start for most teams, plus a fifth outfielder in Ryan Spilborghs who has obvious value as a platoon partner for a left-handed hitter who struggles with lefties, and a guy in AAA in Matt Murton who would be a capable backup for a lot of teams.  That's a lot of outfield depth -- too much, really.  There's always the possibility that an outfielder goes down to injury, but with this much depth, there's really no need to carry so many.  If the Rockies trade one, and another goes down, Matt Miller and Dan Ortmeier would probably be acceptable backups, and I could obviously live with Smith or Spilborghs starting for a while.

So clearly, the Rockies could spare an outfielder, particularly when there are other holes on the team and in the farm system.  Hawpe is the most likely player to be traded, considering he's the most expensive of the outfielders and is the best player right now.  He's also signed through 2010 (with an option for 2011, which he can void if he's traded), so he could command a couple of prospects in a trade.  If the Rockies are looking to dump salary, he's the obvious player to be traded: Todd Helton is too expensive and has a no-trade clause, and Garrett Atkins has almost no trade value at this point (somebody might be convinced to buy low on him, but considering what he'd bring back, the Rockies would be ill-advised to trade him right now.)

Ultimately, I think the Rockies will wait until closer to the trade deadline as teams get more desperate for offensive power.  Desperate teams often make dumb moves, and Hawpe could net a top prospect or two from a team that's desperately in need of a power-hitting corner outfielder at the trade deadline.  The downside to that approach is that by late July, fewer teams will consider themselves contenders and so the number of potential trade partners will decrease.

For the time being, the Rockies will go with Gonzalez in left and Fowler in center, with Smith and Spilborghs getting a few starts here and there as well.  A Hawpe trade would probably mean that Smith would play every day, either in right or in left, with Gonzalez moving to right.

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