Colorado Rockies Need to Turn Attention to Mat Latos

The Colorado Rockies are reportedly interested in signing Yovani Gallardo; however, they should turn their attention to bounce-back candidate Mat Latos.

For the most part, this offseason, the Colorado Rockies remained relatively quiet in the free agency market, with their notable signings including Mark Reynolds and Gerardo Parra. However, up until this point, the Colorado Rockies failed to address their glaring weakness in the pitching department, more specifically their starting pitching.

Over the past couple of days, the Colorado Rockies have been linked to negotiations involving former Texas Rangers starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo, but the major downfall with signing Gallardo is that he received a qualifying offer, forcing the Colorado Rockies to give up a compensation pick. The Colorado Rockies’ first round pick for the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft is protected; thus, that leaves the team having to part with their second round pick (38th overall).

In Gallardo’s nine year career, he owns a 102-75 record, 3.66 ERA, and 1.32 WHIP. Moreover, Yovani Gallardo turns 30 before the 2016 season begins, so it does not make much sense for the Colorado Rockies to pursue the former Rangers pitcher. So, the Colorado Rockies need to shift their focus to try and sign former Cincinnati Reds ace Mat Latos to a bargain deal.

Mat Latos came off of the most disappointing season of his career, splitting time between the Marlins, Dodgers, and Angels in 2015. While Mat Latos has a notorious clubhouse presence, he presents great value for the Colorado Rockies for 2016 and beyond. This offseason, the San Francisco Giants signed Jeff Samardzija to a multi-year contract valued close to $90M, despite Samardzija having a similar season to Latos from a statistical standpoint. 

In 2015, Mat Latos posted unsightly numbers across the board, including a 4-10 record, 4.95 ERA, and 1.31 WHIP. Just a season before, Mat Latos posted impressive numbers for the Reds, albeit in a shortened season due to injuries. In 2014, Mat Latos owned a 5-5 record, 3.25 ERA, and 1.15 WHIP in 16 starts, but the downfall to Latos’ game in 2014 was that his strikeout rate fell to just over six strikeouts per nine innings.

When Mat Latos caught wind that he was traded to the Miami Marlins in the 2015 offseason, he lamented the move, which could have played a big part in his downward spiral in 2015. Moreover, with Mat Latos finding himself on three teams in 2015, the moves might now have made sense for the hard-throwing 6’6” right-handed pitcher.

Due to Mat Latos’ underwhelming performance in 2015, he is unlikely to land a deal for any longer than two years, but that opens the door for nearly every team to pursue his services for the upcoming season. The Colorado Rockies desperately need starting pitching, and they currently have only one pitcher with true upside (Jon Gray), and outside of Gray, the Colorado Rockies have a mix of lower-end rotational arms. 

It is no guarantee that Mat Latos finds his groove in the 2016 season, but the reward, likely, outweighs the risk. Several websites provide statistical insight on what type of season they believe Mat Latos to have in 2016, with the Bill James Handbook projecting a 3.36 ERA across 174 innings for Latos in 2016. However, both Baseball Reference and Fangraphs Steamer project Mat Latos to hover around a 4.00 ERA, with 150-plus innings pitched.

If the Colorado Rockies were to pursue Mat Latos, he could headline an uninspiring pitching staff in Denver, but he could provide veteran leadership, with a low-risk, high-reward outlook. At just 28 years old, Mat Latos could pair with Jon Gray and provide the Colorado Rockies with two hard-throwing right-handed pitchers in the rotation. Moreover, Mat Latos did not receive a qualifying offer after 2015, so the Colorado Rockies would not have to give up a draft pick if they signed him.

It would not make much sense for the Colorado Rockies to pursue the services of Yovani Gallardo going forward, especially with a qualifying offer tied to the right-hander. Thus, the Colorado Rockies need to turn their attention to the other players on the market, with Mat Latos jumping out as a front-runner due to his low-risk, high-reward capabilities.

Regardless of whom the Colorado Rockies sign this offseason, they are likely in for another long season, as the team looks to get younger over the course of the season. Also, there is a real chance the Colorado Rockies deal one of their outfielders in the upcoming days as Spring Training approaches. If the Colorado Rockies do not address their pitching concerns this offseason, they wiffed at the chance to improve their team moving forward.