DENVER – The Rockies made it official on Saturday. The five-year deal with pitcher German Marquez, which includes an option for 2024, is official. The next question is, who is next in line for the Rockies to add to the list of pre-free agent players to join Marquez, Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado in making the long-term commitment.
Marquez is guaranteed $43 million under the deal that will cover his three years of arbitration eligibility, and first year of potential free agency. His signing comes after the announcement a year earlier that Blackmon agreed to a six-year, $108 million deal, and the late February announcement this year of an eight-year, $260 million deal with Arenado.
Marquez's contract is second only to the $50 million, five-year deal that reigning AL Cy Young Winner Blake Snell signed with Tampa Bay during the off-season for a player with less than three years of MLB service time.
Under terms of the deal, according to a source cited by Thomas Harding of MLB.com, Marquez will earn $2.5 million in 2019, including a $1.5 million singing bonus; $4.5 million in 2020, $7.5 million in 2021, $11 million in 2022, and $15 million in 2023, which would have been his first year of free agency.
The Rockies also hold a $2.5 million buyout on a $16 million club option for 2024, which becomes a mutual option if Marquez places in the top three in Cy Young voting during the length of the contract.
The deal also includes an increase in the 2023 and the option 2024 base salaries of $1 million if he wins a Cy Young Award, or a $500,000 increase in the base salary those two seasons if he finished second through fifth in Cy Young voting.
Blackmon and Arenado can both opt out after the 2021 season, but Arenado's deal covers the first seven years of his eligibility for free agency, and Blackmon's covered his first five potential free-agent seasons.
In the aftermath of the Marquez deal, the most likely players to be approached by the Rockies to discuss a multi-year deal are left-hander Kyle Freeland, their Opening Day starter this year who set a franchise records last season for lowest season ERA (2.85) and lowest ERA in Coors Field (2.40), and shortstop Trevor Story.
The 24-year-old Marquez is 1-0 in two starts this season, allowing one run and striking out 14 with six walks in 13 innings. He was 14-11 with a 3.77 ERA, 57 walks and a club record 230 strikeouts in 196 innings a year ago. He was named the National League Pitcher of the Month for September of last season after going 3-1 with a 2.14 ERA (33.2 IP, 8 ER), five walks and 48 strikeouts.
He joined Mike Hampton (2001 and 2002) as the only Rockies pitchers to earn a Rawlings Silver Slugger award as the best hitting pitcher in the NL. He hit .300 last season with four runs scored, a home run and five RBI.His 18 hits were the most by an NL pitcher since Zack Grienke had 19 in 2013.
In his 70-game big-league career, which includes 67 starts, Marquez is 27-19 with a 4.00 ERA. He has allowed 118 walks while striking out 406 batters in 391 2/3 innings.
A native of San Feliz, Venezuela, the Rockies acquired Marquez from Tampa Bay prior to the 2016 season along with left-handed reliever Jake McGee in exchange for outfielder Corey Dickerson, and minor-league infielder Kevin Padlo. After splitting the 2016 season between Double-A Hartford and Triple-A Albuquerque, Marquez made his big league debut with the Rockies in September of 2016.