Germán Márquez Signs Two-Year Deal To Stay in Colorado

German Marquez
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday, the Rockies and starting pitcher Germán Márquez agreed on terms to a two-year contract extension worth a guaranteed $20 million. This was a lost season for Márquez, as an elbow injury and eventual Tommy John surgery resulted in him only making four starts. Unsurprisingly for a pitcher suffering a major injury, the second year of his new deal is heavily incentivized, with two roster bonuses and three inning bonuses. Márquez is expected to miss the first half of the 2024 season, but if he throws 160 innings in 2025, he’ll net a cool $22 million for the season. The contract also includes a $1 million assignment bonus, paid by his new team if the Rockies should trade him.

An elbow injury that requires a scalpel is never a welcome sign for anyone, but for Márquez, originally a free agent this fall, it was a particularly hard blow. The hope had been that he would bounce back from a pedestrian 2022 season that saw his FIP balloon to nearly five and his strikeout rate fall about 10% from 2021. While my thoughts on how the Rockies have been run since, well, 1993 are well-known, he was one of their biggest coups in franchise history. It’s hard to prove the Rays wrong on a young pitcher, but that the Rockies did, picking up Márquez and Jake McGee from Tampa Bay for Corey Dickerson and Kevin Padlo in 2016. Despite being only 28, he already looms large in Rockies history.

Rockies Career Pitching WAR Leaders
Player IP W L ERA HR BB SO WAR
Ubaldo Jiménez 851.0 56 45 3.66 55 371 773 18.7
Germán Márquez 1016.0 65 56 4.41 141 302 983 17.5
Aaron Cook 1312.3 72 68 4.53 111 408 558 17.3
Jon Gray 829.3 53 49 4.59 105 280 849 15.8
Jorge De La Rosa 1141.3 86 61 4.35 129 481 985 14.7
Jeff Francis 1066.0 64 62 4.96 136 333 742 14.7
Kyle Freeland 981.3 55 65 4.39 136 327 734 12.3
Pedro Astacio 827.3 53 48 5.43 139 290 749 12.3
Jason Jennings 941.0 58 56 4.74 103 425 622 12.3
Jhoulys Chacín 783.7 45 52 4.05 75 329 598 9.7
John Thomson 611.0 27 43 5.01 83 188 390 9.2
Antonio Senzatela 679.7 39 43 4.87 80 209 451 9.0
Jason Hammel 524.7 27 30 4.63 56 157 368 7.8
Brian Fuentes 410.3 16 26 3.38 39 171 470 7.7
Kevin Ritz 576.3 39 38 5.20 62 253 337 6.7

Jiménez’s three-year peak as an elite pitcher makes him the king of the mountain, but Márquez is only a couple good months behind him. When you consider offense as well (Márquez was once a Silver Slugger), the latter is already the leader. And while I can’t expect anyone in Denver to appreciate this, it certainly matters to me that my most recent memory of Márquez isn’t Buck Showalter throwing him into a playoff game for no particular reason.

Lest you think Márquez’s lofty standing is me damning the Rockies with faint praise, he’s long been one of the best-projected young pitchers in ZiPS WAR:

ZiPS Rest of Career Pitching, WAR Germán Márquez
Year (Preseason) Rest-of-Career WAR Rank
2016 13.4 99
2017 27.6 25
2018 38.1 10
2019 44.8 2
2020 39.5 6
2021 32.6 9
2022 28.3 17
2023 22.8 31

Naturally, his position in the rankings dropped as he failed to maintain his 2018 strikeout rate, but some of the decline is natural due to having fewer tomorrows remaining. With the kind of bounceback that ZiPS expected, he would have been looking at a pretty good payday in free agency. Here’s what his long-term projections for 2024 and beyond looked like before the start of 2023. I’m using a neutral park for this one since Coors Field is… complicated.

ZiPS Projection – Germán Márquez (Preseason 2023)
Year W L ERA G GS IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ WAR
2024 10 9 3.83 26 26 160.0 144 68 18 49 144 109 3.0
2025 9 9 3.88 24 24 153.0 139 66 17 47 135 107 2.7
2026 9 8 3.97 22 22 142.7 133 63 17 43 123 105 2.5
2027 9 8 4.04 22 22 140.3 133 63 17 43 118 103 2.3
2028 8 7 4.15 20 20 125.7 123 58 16 39 103 100 1.9
2029 6 7 4.28 18 18 111.3 110 53 14 36 90 97 1.6
2030 6 6 4.38 16 16 98.7 100 48 13 33 78 95 1.3

Based on that projection, ZiPS recommended a seven-year, $126 million extension or $116 million over six years. That’s not Gerrit Cole money and reflects the increased risk stemming from his 2022, but nine figures can buy an impressive haul of goods and/or services. It certainly would have been a better use of money than, say, signing an aging third baseman from the Cubs to play left field for $182 million.

I went ahead and told ZiPS that Márquez has missed time due to Tommy John surgery (I normally do this after the season) and re-ran the numbers.

ZiPS Projection – Germán Márquez
Year W L ERA G GS IP H ER HR BB SO ERA+ WAR
2024 5 6 4.53 16 16 93.3 95 47 12 31 77 107 1.3
2025 6 6 4.65 17 17 98.7 101 51 12 34 80 104 1.3

ZiPS would have suggested two years at $18.2 million, but the difference between that and $20 million, in the context of MLB, is basically nothing. In any case, the fact that he is a pitcher who has survived Coors Field is almost certainly worth a bit more cash, even if ZiPS isn’t specifically valuing that here. In other words, the Rockies made a move that I cannot complain about.

Where does Márquez fit into the future of the Rockies? That’s a much trickier question. While the best result for him is that he makes a grand return next July and returns to his 2017–21 peak form, resulting in him getting that $100 million contract in a couple of years, I’m not sure the Rockies will take fullest advantage of this sunny scenario. If the organization is going to become competitive again, it has a lot of work to do, and Márquez rocking the NL inside out in 2025 likely makes him more valuable to the Rockies in terms of who they can acquire for him rather than his actual performance.

Trading veterans, especially veterans who had an important past in the story of the franchise, always appears to be psychologically difficult for Colorado’s ownership. But that’s a problem for the future Rockies. The team made a good move in extending Márquez to a low-risk, high-upside contract, and that’s good enough for me to pause my grumbling.





Dan Szymborski is a senior writer for FanGraphs and the developer of the ZiPS projection system. He was a writer for ESPN.com from 2010-2018, a regular guest on a number of radio shows and podcasts, and a voting BBWAA member. He also maintains a terrible Twitter account at @DSzymborski.

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sadtrombonemember
7 months ago

When I first saw this deal I misread it and thought they had signed him to a 2 year deal that averaged $20M and I thought “why would anyone do that?” Turns out, no one would.

mariodegenzgz
7 months ago
Reply to  sadtrombone

The thing with Germán is that had he stayed healthy, a forward thinking organization could’ve probably helped him pitch like a $20M starter. He’s always been exceptional at spinning a breaking ball, but his stuff stagnated as a Rockie (likely due to the org falling behind in understanding data and just going with traditional wisdom) and the way he’s pitched has never evolved past late 2000’s thinking of “get ahead with the fastball, keep the ball down, get em out with breaking balls in the dirt”.

It’s almost as if since he’s a hard thrower, the org has believed that he has to throw a lot of fastballs, which is arcaic thinking. He’s a hard thrower, but his fastball doesn’t move a lot (he’s a natural sinker candidate) and his real plus-plus skill is breaking ball manipulation, something the Rockies have not embraced in his time there. Instead, his curveball turned into a slider, he kept throwing 55-60% fastballs down in the zone, and that was that. As good as he has been in Colorado, he could’ve been so much more.

The deal is a win-win here. Germán gets some extra security, the Rockies get a full healthy year to evaluate him and see how he comes back. If his velo comes back, I would expect them to push hard to re-sign him, and they should. And if they finally allow him to pitch to his strengths, he will end up head and shoulders above any pitcher in franchise history. Let him throw a million curveballs and sliders, let him mix in sinkers and four-seams, throw the changeup away for now.

jfree
7 months ago
Reply to  mariodegenzgz

his stuff stagnated as a Rockie (likely due to the org falling behind in understanding data and just going with traditional wisdom)

I doubt that’s the reason. Coors kills stuff (meaning anything that is affected by air density from release to plate). It always has and always will. No amount of analysis can change the altitude and nothing can change the reality that Coors is a 2σ data outlier on everything and sabermetrics (normal distribution stats) doesn’t do outliers well.

I agree that Marquez is a stuff pitcher. Which means that his home park is a huge challenge and almost certainly gets in his head. That was probably understand even back to Tampa. Except for 2021, he’s been poor at Coors and great on the road – and generally he’s gotten more IP on the road. Not as road tilted as I would like to see the Rockies try (home-road pitcher platoons) but pretty good.

Unless there is something weird that I don’t understand about 2021, he is always going to be best played as a road pitcher for the Rockies. Which means not a great fit at all for a long term contract that could turn into a home town hero. The higher % of road IP, the more that will be obvious to other teams/analysts – and the more it will thus be possible for the Rockies to realize better trade value. Instead of always getting screwed by every other team that uses regular non-outlier stats to their advantage

I hope the Rockies have that as the goal for the next couple years. Play him on the road as much as possible. Because Marquez is one stuff pitcher that hasn’t been broken by the Coors challenge. He’s still excellent – a near ace – on the road.