A persistent criticism about Rockies owner Dick Monfort among Colorado fans is that he’s cheap. There seems to be a belief that while Rockies ownership will shell out money for a party deck, they are fairly conservative when it comes to paying players and coaches.
Is that fair? Ehhhhh. In 2016, the Rockies ranked 19th in the MLB in total payroll, according to Spotrac. Colorado spent roughly $120.6 million on players this season. They ranked 18th in total payroll in 2015, and 19th in 2014. Not exactly cheap. But Rockies ownership certainly wasn’t going crazy either.
However, in a letter Monfort sent to Rockies season ticket holders Wednesday, it appears ownership might be willing to increase its spending habits this offseason.
“You have invested in us and we will continue to invest in you, both in terms of growing our player payroll and providing the best service and ballpark experience in sports,” Monfort wrote.
Below is the letter in its entirety.
The 2016 season was a significant step forward for our organization, featuring standout years by some talented veterans, record-setting rookie performances and, perhaps most importantly, huge strides for our starting pitching. Despite setbacks like Trevor Story’s injury and a bullpen that performed below our expectations, this team grinded its way into the September playoff conversation which was a step in the right direction. But we all want more.
Was 2016 the start of something good? Yes. While I hated to see this season end, I am excited for what lies ahead. We are on the right path, and we could not have persevered without the support of dedicated fans like you. For you, our fans, our employees and our team, we are committed to working hard again this offseason to put the right pieces in place to make postseason baseball a reality in 2017 and beyond.
You have invested in us and we will continue to invest in you, both in terms of growing our player payroll and providing the best service and ballpark experience in sports. In order to accomplish this, we are faced with the annual challenge of how we can grow our business in a league where most teams are pricing their most loyal customers out. Going into 2017, we will keep our average Season Ticket price among the lowest of all 30 Major League clubs, but we will make moderate increases in a few seating areas, keeping the majority of our ticket prices the same. As always, Season Ticket Holders save at least 40% over the individual ticket price. Additionally, by popular demand, we are happy to offer our Loyalty Card for all returning Season Ticket Holders for the fifth year in a row. This card provides financial and game service benefits that I hope all of you take full advantage of in 2017.
As we enter the busy offseason, we will be naming a new manager to lead a talented club, and every member of our organization will be preparing for a successful 2017 campaign and beyond. Coors Field is your home and you are an integral part of the Rockies family, so we hope you are as excited as we are for what lies ahead. Thank you and GO ROCKIES!
Richard L. Monfort
Owner/Chairman & CEO
A few words from Senior Vice President & General Manager Jeff Bridich:
In the Baseball Operations Department, October baseball is always our focus and we will continue to work hard every day to bring the postseason back to Colorado. Of course this October is significant in another way, requiring decisions that will greatly impact our Octobers to come.
At the top of our offseason priority list is selecting the manager to lead this club, followed closely by the coaching staff around him. The search includes internal and external candidates and the coming weeks will be busy with interviews. We are already encouraged by the individuals who have expressed interest in managing our team – men with experience and respect in the game. As with any search of this magnitude, there will be speculation, but know that we will share the final decision with you as soon as it’s made.
The offseason is always a time of evaluation and reflection. Combined with the manager search, we expect to have a very productive six months leading up to Opening Day. Reflecting on some standout individual performances, as well as areas of improvement, these offseason discussions will touch on topics such as: (1) capitalizing on core veteran talent like Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, DJ LeMahieu and Carlos Gonzalez; (2) developing young pitchers like Jon Gray, Tyler Anderson, Jeff Hoffman, Carlos Estevez and German Marquez at the Major League level; (3) seasoning rookies likeTrevor Story, David Dahl, Tony Wolters, Tom Murphy and Raimel Tapia; and (4) shoring up the bullpen with veteran and young arms to support a healthy Adam Ottavino.
We learned a lot about this team in 2016 and we also saw the tremendous upside it has. We believe in what this group can accomplish in the near future. Your dedication to this team is reflected in your investment as a Season Ticket Holder and, on behalf of our organization and especially everyone in the clubhouse who wears the Rockies uniform every day, we thank you for standing by us. We appreciate your support through thick and thin, and we look forward to seeing you in 2017.
Several key Rockies are set to hit free agency this winter, including starting pitcher Jorge De La Rosa, reliever Boone Logan, catcher Nick Hundley and first baseman Mark Reynolds.
More than anything, the Rockies need to improve a bullpen that ranked last in the MLB with a 5.13 ERA. That could require spending big money on a relief arm in free agency.
First base is another potential area of need, as Reynolds’ contract is up.
It will be interesting to see how Monfort, general manager Jeff Bridich and Colorado’s front office tackles free agency — especially now that Monfort has indicated the Rockies are going to spend.
Monfort expressed cautious optimism about 2016 in the letter. It’s clear he thinks Colorado can make a postseason push next year.
“… We are committed to working hard again this offseason to put the right pieces in place to make postseason baseball a reality in 2017 and beyond,” Monfort wrote.