The Rockies and right-hander José Ureña are in agreement on a contract for 2023, per Robert Murray of FanSided. Jon Heyman of the New York Post relays that it’s a major league deal, while Thomas Harding of MLB.com reports that it’s a one-year deal with a club option for 2024. Per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, it’s for $3MM with the option valued at $4MM, though Heyman has the value of the deal as $3.5MM. It’s possible that it’s a $3MM salary in 2023 with a $500K buyout on the option, making it a $3.5MM guarantee, though more details are sure to come out in time.
Ureña, 31, is a veteran who has appeared in each of the past eight MLB seasons. The first six of those were with the Marlins and the seventh was with the Tigers, with the righty generally soaking up innings by inducing a fair amount of ground balls. In 2022, he began the year with the Brewers but was let go in May after just four relief appearances. He latched on with the Rockies on a minor league deal and made it up to their big league team by July. He eventually made 17 starts for Colorado and continued in his usual low-strikeout, high-grounder fashion. He logged 89 1/3 innings with a 5.14 ERA, 15.2% strikeout rate, 9.6% walk rate and 50.3% ground ball rate, with all of those being pretty close to his career marks.
Since Coors Field is notorious for its offense-forward environment, Ureña was likely better than that ERA indicates. All of the advanced metrics were a bit kinder, as he had a 4.53 FIP, 4.46 xFIP and 4.83 SIERA. Those still aren’t amazing numbers, but the Rockies often have trouble convincing pitchers to make Denver their home. As the season was winding down, reports emerged that both he and the club were happy with their arrangement and were interested in a reunion. Giving the mutual affection and constant need for arms in Colorado, signing up for another year at a modest price point seems to be a good fit for all parties.
By bringing back Ureña, the club adds a reliable veteran to a rotation that has a lot of uncertainty at the moment. Germán Márquez and Kyle Freeland should have two spots spoken for, with Ureña now taking a third. There’s not much guaranteed beyond that right now though. Antonio Senzatela should enter the mix at some point, though he was diagnosed with a torn ACL in August. At the time, the estimated recovery period was given as 6-8 months, meaning Senzatela could miss a chunk of the beginning of the season. There are other options to fill out…