By Jack Etkin
Winners of 91 games last year, one shy of the franchise record, the Rockies are coming off back-to-back appearances in the postseason for the first time in their 26-year history. But after losing the wild-card game in 2017 and getting swept in the Division Series last year, they're aiming to go deeper into October this season as well as win the NL West for the first time.
The young starting pitching that was such a strength last year and led the National League in innings will again be counted on heavily. The team hopes to remove a major uncertainty, possibly before the start of the regular season, by signing third baseman Nolan Arenado to a long-term contract. He avoided arbitration with a deal for $26 million this season, the largest ever for an arbitration-eligible player. Arenado can be a free agent after the season. But Rockies owner Dick Monfort said he was very optimistic the team will be able to sign Arenado, who turns 28 in April, to a deal that will keep one of the game's best players with the Rockies.
Free agent Daniel Murphy signed a two-year, $24 million contract and will play first base. It's the position he prefers, although he has more experience at second base. Murphy is an accomplished hitter, who should help revive an offense that last year set franchise records for the lowest overall batting average (.256) and road mark (.225), resulting in hitting coach Duane Espy being fired and replaced by Dave Magadan.
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