With the Colorado Rockies apparently at least listening to offers on outfielder Charlie Blackmon, should other teams tread lightly?
Losers of six of their last seven and with a 3-12 record in July, the Colorado Rockies have faded to five games back of the second Wild Card in the National League. A shift to sell-mode seems to be coming as the July 31 trade deadline approaches, and according to Jon Morosi of MLB.com the Rockies would listen to offers for outfielder Charlie Blackmon.
Morosi acknowledged the chances Blackmon is traded are remote, and there are plenty of reasons why. He’s 33 years old, with a 15-team no trade list and two years left on his contract at $21.5 million each plus player options for 2022 ($21 million) and 2023 ($10 million). But there’s another rather big factor for interested teams to consider.
Blackmon is having another fine season, with a .319/.365/.602 slash line (.967 OPS, 21 home runs, 60 RBI. 23 doubles, seven triples (tied for the NL lead) and 74 runs scored over 82 games as the Rockies leadoff man. He has topped 20 home runs in four straight seasons now.
But, as with every Rockies’ hitter, Blackmon’s home-road splits are dramatic.
2019-Home entering Monday): .415/.470/.848 slash-line (1.318 OPS)
2019-Road: .237/.268/.389 slash-line (.609 OPS)
Career-Home: .350/.409/.591 slash-line (1.000 OPS)
Career-Road: .259/.311/.426 slash-line (.737 OPS)
An already dramatic home-road split for Blackmon in his career has been even more pronounced in 2019. As could be expected, both this year and for his career, he strikes out more and walks less on the road. But his batted ball peripherals don’t show the kind of dramatic differences in home-road splits for his career that might be expected, other than hard contact percentage and ground ball rate perhaps. And naturally, his BABIP is far higher at home (.378) than on the road (.296) for his career. But that .296 BABIP on the road is not far from league average.
Morosi named the Texas Rangers, St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds among the teams with interest in Blackmon. A trade to the Rangers and Reds would be a move to another hitter-friendly home park for him, with generally a better set of road parks compared to Dodger Stadium, Petco Park and Oracle Park in the NL West.
With a bit of natural physical adjustment to not playing at altitude as much, and with Matt Holliday and D.J. LeMahieu as examples, Blackmon can surely function outside of Coors Field. It’s just hard to see him being worthy of a $21.5 million salary in his age 34 and 35 seasons, and his WAR (1.3 bWAR and 1.6 fWAR so far this season) has eroded pretty well from his peak in 2016 (4.5 bWAR; 4.7 fWAR) and 2017 (5.9 bWAR; 6.5 fWAR).
Colorado has a perpetual need for pitching, and moving Blackmon might net them something notable. If a deal isn’t done in the next 8-9 days, Blackmon could easily be dangled on the trade market during the offseason.