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Examining an Underrated Trade Package With the Colorado Rockies

When it comes to trading with the Rockies, the targets the Royals should be going after are perhaps the least likely of suspects.

Welcome back to the 29 trades in 29 days series. Every day, I will be taking a look at a new MLB team in an effort to find a trade package that makes sense for the Kansas City Royals to hypothetically pursue. For some ground rules and an example, check out the first installment of the series. Today, let's begin our run with the National League West as I examine a possible trade involving the Colorado Rockies.

The Rockies just traded possibly the most talented player in franchise history to the St. Louis Cardinals for a prospect haul that currently doesn’t include anybody in the top-100. Speaking of prospects, they have one of the worst farm systems in baseball with only one player currently inside the top-100. They finished fourth in the NL West and aren’t likely to be surpassing the Giants, Dodgers, or Padres any time soon.

With a roster that is soon possibly going to be without All-Star shortstop Trevor Story, it is now more likely than ever that the Rockies will finally go into a full rebuild. The thing with the Rockies is that you never can properly evaluate their players because of Coors Field. Whether it’s trying to evaluate a pitcher with a bloated ERA or a batter with monster offensive numbers, the thin air of Coors makes it hard to try and guess how they would perform with any other team.

The key to this trade will be to buy in bulk to give yourself the best possible opportunity for success.

The Trade:

Colorado Rockies Receive: C Carter Jensen

Kansas City Royals Receive: SP Antonio Senzatela, RHP Robert Stephenson, LHP Lucas Gilbreath

Senzatela would be the starting pitcher coming to the Royals in this deal, and the good news for the them is that the Rockies have already done the hard part and have negotiated a new contract with him that’ll keep him in place until 2027. The Venezuelan offers a five-pitch mix but mostly leans on his four-seam fastball and slider with his changeup, sinker and curveball only being thrown a combined 14% of the time. If Senzatela were to relocate to Kansas City, I would expect those last three pitches to increase in use seeing as Coors Field inhibits vertically breaking pitches from having their usual break.

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The Royals should also net a couple of relievers in this trade to help fill the holes of the departing Jakob Junis, Greg Holland, and Wade Davis. Gilbreath would be the first, as he also relies mostly on a fastball-slider mix with an occasional show-me split changeup that could see more use if he starts pitching in a more friendly environment. Gilbreath offers a lefty-on-lefty matchup reliever who was also very tough on righties as well, with them slashing just .188/.267/.225 off him this season.

The second reliever coming back to the Royals in this deal would be Stephenson, a hard-throwing righty who relies mostly on a fastball-curveball mix with a slider serving as his tertiary pitch with an occasional split-finger fastball as a fourth offering. Even though Coors is not a friendly environment to curveball pitchers, Stephenson offers one of the league's best as hitters only hit .132 off it the entire year and it was by far his best putaway pitch.

The reason why I said the Royals should cast a big net when trading with the Rockies is that logic would suggest that all of these pitchers would be far better on the road than at Coors Field. However, that is only the case with Stephenson as Senzatela and Gilbreath were significantly better at Coors than on the road. But all of them were rated as above-average pitchers in terms of ERA+, as Gilbreath and Stephenson would’ve been ranked inside the top five for Royals pitching while Senzatela would’ve been the second-highest rated full-time starter for the Royals this year behind Danny Duffy. These enigmatic results are why it’s probably best for Kansas City to grab as many players as it can from Colorado instead of trying to engage in a one-for-one swap.

Jensen is the player that is going back to the Rockies in the trade. He just completed his first year of rookie ball, where he put up a decent slash line of .281/.388/.404 with one home run and seven RBIs in 19 games. Jensen was one of the more highly-rated high school catching prospects heading into this year’s draft, with his bat offering good upside. However, there are some questions about his ability to stay behind the plate as he offers adequate tools but not a singular standout trait on defense.

It’s more likely that Jensen's future will lie somewhere else on the diamond and with the Royals already having MJ Melendez in the wings, Jensen could be considered excess goods. He would also immediately become a borderline top-10 prospect for the Rockies, adding some depth and possible versatility to a stagnating farm system.

Jensen doesn't have a conventional setup at the plate, sitting on his back leg more than usual, but he makes consistent hard contact from the left side. He does damage against left-handers and right-handers, fastballs and off-speed pitches, managing the strike zone well and utilizing the entire field. His strength stands out more than his bat speed, but he has the potential for at least average power.

Jensen's solid arm definitely fits at catcher, but he'll have to continue to improve his receiving to stay there. The Missouri native has the desire and work ethic to do so, though some scouts wonder if he'd have more value maximizing his offensive production by playing a less taxing position. Though he's a below-average runner, that's better than most backstops, and he might be able to play third base or an outfield corner if need be, someday.

-MLB.com

If the Royals are going to trade with the Rockies, the targets they should be looking at aren’t the re-emerging offensive players who will take a step back outside of Coors. They should target pitchers that have the potential to take a step forward in a new environment. If the Rockies are about to blow it all up for prospects, the Royals should be the first in line to pick over potential hidden gems.

Read More: Putting Together a Blockbuster Trade Package With the Mets