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Rough Times in the Rockies: Examining Prospects from the Arenado Trade

With the Nolan Arenado trade finalized, we now know who Colorado will be receiving from St. Louis. Here's how that trade breaks down:

St. Louis receives: 3B Nolan Arenado
Colorado receives: LHP Austin Gomber, SS Mateo Gil, 3B Elehuris Montero, RHP Tony Locey, RHP Jake Sommers

I already wrote about what to expect from Arenado in St. Louis, so now we're going to look at the players heading back to Colorado. It's probably an understatement to say that Rockies fans are not at all happy with the "haul" from the Arenado trade. You trade away one of the top third basemen in the league and you don't even get any top prospects in return. After this trade, it's not hard for fans and fantasy managers alike to wonder who may be the next Rockie to be shipped out. So we're going to take a look at the return from St. Louis, but we'll also take a look at what to expect next in Colorado.


The Rockies' Return

Here's a quick overview of these guys before we go more in-depth:

  • Out of these five guys, Gomber is the only one with major league experience — having tossed over 100 innings between 2018 and 2020.
  • Montero was the highest-ranked prospect out of this group, with MLB Pipeline ranking him in the top-10 in the Cardinals' system the last two years
  • Sommers and Locey were 2019 draft picks, with Locey going in the third round. Sommers spent all of 2019 in the Advanced-Rookie Appalachian League, while Locey made 10 appearances at Single-A.
  • Gil was a 2018 third-round pick who played in two games at High-A in 2019 while spending the rest of the year in the Appalachian League.

So with this group of players, only Gomber will have any impact in fantasy in 2021. The four prospects all look to be at least a couple of years away from the majors, so we'll look at their potential value going forward in dynasty formats. We'll start off by looking at Gomber and his value in 2021:

Austin Gomber, LHP

2020 stats: 14 G, 4 GS, 1-1, 1.86 ERA, 22.7 K%, 12.6 BB%, 29 IP

Gomber has put up some very solid strikeout numbers in the minors with a career 24.1 percent strikeout rate over six seasons, but he's also had an issue with surrendering walks to the tune of a 7.5 percent walk rate. Over his two seasons in the majors, both of those numbers have gotten worse with a 20.8 percent strikeout rate and a 10.4 percent walk rate. He also appeared to get lucky with his ERA last year, as his 4.06 xERA was significantly higher than his 1.86 ERA. There were some positive trends in his performance last year though as his 10.3 degree launch angle and 2.7 percent barrel rate were both improved from his 13.9 degree and 7.8 percent marks in 2018, and after being a flyball pitcher through much of his career he posted a 48.6 percent ground ball rate in 2020 — the highest rate he has posted at any level of pro ball.

He'll likely crack the Opening Day rotation in Colorado this year but any fantasy value he may have will be very limited early on. There could be some value out of him as a match-up dependent streaming option, but he shouldn't be rostered in anything except the deepest of formats for now. Keep an eye on him though during Spring Training and the first couple of months to see if he can tap more into his strikeout potential.

Elehuris Montero, 3B

2019 stats: 63 G (Rookie-AA), .194/.245/.316, 7 HR, 24 R, 18 RBI, 30.0 K%, 5.9 BB%

Probably the closest to the majors out of the four prospects, Montero struggled in an injury-marred 2019 campaign. After posting back-to-back seasons with an average over .275 and an OPS over .830, wrist injuries limited Montero to just 63 games, and when he was able to play the injuries cost him at the plate as he posted career-worsts in nearly every category. When healthy he should provide some decent pop and a solid average at third, and dynasty league managers should watch him closely this year to see how he bounces back from the missed development time over the last two years. It's unlikely he'll get much playing time in 2021, but he could be an interesting option in fantasy if he gets a September call-up.

Mateo Gil, SS

2019 stats: 53 G (Rookie-A+), .262/.316/.419, 7 HR, 42 R, 30 RBI, 25.1 K%, 7.4 BB%

Drafted out of high school in 2018, Gil spent all but two games with the Advanced-Rookie Johnson City Cardinals in 2019. Gil showed some good power as he finished second on the team with seven home runs while also lowering his strikeout rate slightly. He's several years away from being fantasy relevant and his future value is hard to solidly project right now, but he could develop into a decent fantasy shortstop in the future.

Tony Locey, RHP

2019 stats: 12 G (Rookie-A), 1-2, 5.29 ERA, 40.3 K%, 15.6 BB%, 17 IP

Locey had a solid season at Georgia as a starter in 2019, going 11-2 with a 2.53 ERA and a 27 percent strikeout rate, but he struggled in his pro-ball debut. Pitching exclusively out of the bullpen, Locey only tossed 17 innings while allowing 10 earned runs on 16 hits and 12 walks. The strikeout rate was great but his 15.6 percent walk rate was even higher than his career 13.2 percent rate pitching in the SEC. He's also a couple years away from any fantasy relevancy, and he may end up staying in the bullpen long term.

Jake Sommers, RHP

2019 stats: 12 G (Rookie), 10 GS, 2-3, 4.18 ERA, 24.6 K%, 8.5 BB%, 51.2 IP

Sommers had a reverse experience from Locey in 2019, as he went from primarily a reliever out of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to being stretched out as a starter in Johnson City. The 4.18 ERA in the Appalachian League was up from the 3.60 ERA he posted prior to the draft, but Sommers did see an improvement with a 1.355 WHIP — lower than any mark he recorded in college — and while his strikeout rate did go down slightly, a 24.6 percent rate is still very good. Like Locey, he's a few years away from the majors and his role as either a starter or a reliever remains up in the air.


What's Left in Colorado?

So that's what Colorado got for Arenado — three long-term prospects, another prospect who is a little closer to the majors and a potential member of their Opening Day rotation. Basically, things are not looking good for the Rockies this year and for the next couple of years. So now the question is who else could be on the move this year?

The obvious choice to many is Trevor Story. He'll be a free agent anyway after this year, but there's a good chance he could be traded at the deadline. If rumors start growing about a mid-season trade with Story, fantasy managers will probably want to look into trading him away too. Like Arenado, Story has benefitted significantly from playing at Coors Field and there could be a sizable drop in production if he leaves Colorado. Here are his career home-road splits:

Home 84 0.304 0.37 0.624
Road 50 0.25 0.315 0.445

Story should still be productive in any format regardless of where he ends up, but smart managers should contemplate trying to sell-high on Story if it seems he'll be on the move.

German Marquez and Kyle Freeland on the other hand are a couple of guys who could be potentially traded now that could actually see their value increase by leaving Colorado. They have both been solid options in quality starts leagues over the last couple years, and both of them have pitched better on the road throughout their careers. Marquez in particular has the best potential if he's traded away, as evidenced by his splits:

Home 5.1 1.423 0.287 0.802
Road 3.51 1.137 0.233 0.688

So unlike with Story, if trade rumors emerge surrounding Marquez you might want to try acquiring him. Depending on where he would end up if traded, Marquez is a pitcher that managers could want to target in almost any format.

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