Scottsdale, Ariz. — Go ahead, you try to make sense of it.
It was just seven months ago when the Chicago Cubs dumped Kris Bryant at the July trade deadline, knowing they weren’t going to sign him as a free agent.
The San Francisco Giants had him for their playoff run, but three months after his arrival, let it be known they were not going to aggressively attempt to keep him.
The 99-day lockout came and went without a sound.
And then, on Wednesday afternoon, came the sonic boom.
The Colorado Rockies, the same team that unloaded All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado 11 months ago, cast aside veteran starter Jon Gray without giving him a qualifying offer in November, and have shown no inclination they even have a desire to bring back homegrown free -shortstop agent Trevor Story, suddenly invests $182 million over seven years to sign Bryant.
They even gave the guy a complete no-trade clause in return for no opt-out clauses.
Strange times, baby.
There has been more than $1 billion spent in free-agent contracts this winter, including $433 million alone on ex-Cubs, but no free-agent signing was more stunning than this one.
On the one-to-10 shock scale, this would be the equivalent of the Pittsburgh Pirates announcing they’re bringing back Barry Bonds to play another season, the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s trading ballparks, or Rob Manfred and Tony Clark going on a 30-day family cruise together.
It. Makes. No.Sense.
Or does it?
Remember, this is the same team that signed Arenado to an eight-year, $260 million contract in 2019, and he was out the door two years later after begging to be traded.
It’s the same place where Story has hinted that there’s basically no amount of money that could keep him in Colorado.
And it’s the same franchise owned by Dick Monfort, who just so happened to be in charge of the labor negotiating committee during the lockout, trying to keep the luxury tax thresholds as low as possible.
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There will be plenty of questions, and we’ll see if there’s any answers, to explain how one of the game’s biggest stars decided to play for a franchise that has finished a combined 67½ honest games out of first place the last two full seasons, hasn’t won a postseason game since 2009, and just so happens to play in the same division as the powerful Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres?
Maybe Bryant will steal veteran starter Zack Greinke’s line when asked why he signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2015 instead of returning to the Dodgers?
“They paid me the most money,” he candidly said.
Certainly, it appears to be the case with Bryant.
Several high-profile teams flirted with him, but no one was offering the kind of money the Rockies showed him. The Philadelphia Phillies showed interest, but once they decided to sign Bryant’s former teammate, Kyle Schwarber (four years, $79 million), Bryant was left with no choice without walking away from tens of millions.
The more compelling questions at Bryant’s introductory press conference will be directed toward the Rockies. You know, like how can you spend $182 million on Bryant, but not keep your own homegrown stars, even sending $51 million to the St. Louis Cardinals to take Arenado off their hands?
The Rockies are expected to tell you it’s rather simple:
They want a marquee star, someone to be the face of the franchise.
They want someone to badly repair the organization’s badly battered image.
They want someone to build the organization around, and be a clubhouse leader, when the day finally comes that they can be competitive again.
And they’ll remind you over and over that they fell in love with Bryant when he was at San Diego State, and planned to select him with the third pick in the 2013 amateur draft.
The Chicago Cubs beat them to the punch with the second pick.
Bryant went on to win the NL rookie of the year, the NL MVP award, and led the Cubs to the 2016 World Series title, with five postseason berths in six years.
The Rockies selected Gray, reached the playoffs twice, but never won the division, let alone a postseason game, and Gray is now pitching in Texas.
Oh, what a difference a draft slot makes.
We’ll see what lies in store these next seven years, but for now the Rockies should at least be better, although still only a fourth-place team in the NL West
They should certainly be more interesting, with Bryant being a marquee attraction.
But, let’s face it, after Wednesday’s stunning development, they’re a heck of a lot more perplexing, too.
The Rockies have been awfully bad for plenty of years, but boring?
Follow Bob Nightengale on Twitter @Bnightengale.