German Marquez remembers that first tryout camp he attended in his native Venezuela. He was 13 years old, and it was operated by the Rockies. The Rockies never made a contract offer.
Tampa Bay, however, eventually did. Marquez signed with the Rays.
Fast forward 11 years, and here Marquez is, acquired in a trade by the Rockies from Tampa Bay prior to the 2016 season, and having established himself as such a key cog in the rotation along with Kyle Freeland that on Saturday the Rockies finalized a five-year guaranteed contract worth $43 million. It only covers one year of potential free agency.
“It’s about scouting,” said Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich. “It’s looking for people to believe in people. There was not any magic stat of any sort of analytical this or that. It was somebody seeing a pitcher a number of times.
“It was a scout willing to do his job and take a strong stance, and say he can do this to his job. Jack Giles had an instinct and great feel for what German could become at the big league level, even though he had never pitched about the Class A level.”
The instinct has become reality, which is underscored by Marquez receiving the second largest contract in MLB history for a player with less than three years of service time – reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell signed a $50 million deal in the off-season.
Marquez’s deal does inlcude a club option for a sixth year at $16 million, although it becomes a mutual option of Marquez played in the top three in Cy Young voting during the five years of the guaranteed portion of the contract.
“I am grateful for the next chapter of life,” Marquez said. “I want to continue my hard work. Nothing has changed. I look forward to winning a championship here (with the Rockies).”
The Rockies chances of winning a world championship are enhanced with the Freeland-Marquez combo at the top of a rotation that used only seven pitchers – including Jeff Hoffman for one start and 3 1/3 innings – last year. None of them were 30 by Opening Day, and they combined last season to lead National League rotations in innings pitches.
“It is exciting that he decided Denver is the placed he wanted to be his home for the next five or six years,” said Bridich.
The signing of Marquez to a long-term deal comes after the spring training announcement of an eight-year, $260 million deal with Nolan Arenado, the second largest AAV in MLB to the deal Mike Trout singed with the Angels, and a year to the date of the announcement of a six-year, $108 million deal with Charlie Blackmon.
They both, however, were signed in their final year before free agency, and both have a clause that allows them to opt out following the 2021 season, which coincides with the expiration of the current Basic Agreement.
There is a major difference between Arenado and Blackmon, and Marquez, in addition to their service time situation.
Arenado is a third baseman and Blackmon is an outfielder. They enjoy hitting at Coors Field. Marquez is a pitcher, many of whom feel Coors Field is an unfair environment.
“There is always going to be that type of comments,” said Marquez. “I am never going to think that way. I am going to go out and pitch the way I pitch.”
And that way has been effective at Coors Field. He is 13-9 in 32 career appearances at Coors Field – 31 starts and a relief appearance – and the Rockies are 20-12 in those games.
And Bridich is not denying the idea that the Rockies could sign more of their current players to long-term deals. He didn’t mention names, but it would seem left-hander Kyle Freeland and shortstop Trevor Story would be candidates.
For now, however, they feel good about the three deals that are in place.