Rockies Mailbag: What’s Charlie Blackmon’s future? Who will televise Rox games in 2024?

Denver Post sports writer Patrick Saunders with the latest installment of his Rockies Mailbag.

Pose a Rockies — or MLB — related question for the Rockies Mailbag.

Where do you see Charlie Blackmon next year?

— Mark Newton, Grand Junction

Mark, I honestly don’t know but don’t think he’ll be playing for the Rockies.

As I’m sure you’re aware, Blackmon is in the final year of his six-year, $108 million contract. If he was having a great year, I could see Colorado trading him to a contending team this summer, as long as Blackmon was open to it. But right now, Blackmon is not producing at a high enough level to draw much trade interest.

Blackmon has not said that he’s thinking about retirement, but he’ll turn 37 on July 1, and he and his wife, Ashley, have two young kids, so retirement is certainly a possibility.

When I asked Blackmon in January if this was his final season, he said: “I think about everything, but I don’t really want to go there and think about that until I have to. I’m really not ready to comment on that. I still really love the game and I think I can still be productive, for sure.”

Blackmon entered Tuesday night’s game against the Marlins hitting .276 with three home runs. He’s been the Rockies’ primary designated hitter.

Patrick, I have not heard any update on the fate of AT&T SportsNet, or Altitude Sports. I am curious as to what is going on.

Personally, I was glad to see the upheaval approaching as I hate the current setup.  I find it hard to “brainwash” my grandchildren on loving the local franchises as I do when they can’t see any of the regular season games at their cord-cutter households.  I too am about to cut the cord and go with YouTube TV which will take away my ability to see the Rockies. 

Any hope for me to cut the cord and see the Rockies during this season?

— Don, Highlands Ranch

Don, the short answer is no.

The Rockies will remain on AT&T SportsNet for the rest of the season. Then we will see a new setup for 2024, one that might include both streaming and a local TV outlet.

In February, Warner Brothers Discovery announced it would cut off its rights payments to the Rockies, Houston Astros and Pittsburgh Pirates, whose games it airs through AT&T SportsNet. The deadline was supposed to be March 31, but games are still being televised.

However, according to a report last month in the Sports Business Journal, a deal now being discussed would have WBD continue to pay its rights fees and produce/distribute games for the entire 2023 season. At the end of the season, WBD would walk away, and the rights would revert back to the teams.

In Colorado and Pittsburgh, that means that Major League Baseball will be in charge of producing and distributing games next season. MLB has been constructing an in-house, local sports division that will produce and distribute games locally as those rights return to the teams.

What is the ETA and role you see for Nolan Jones this year?

— Simmy, Springfield, N.J.

Simmy, I’ve been getting this question a lot because Jones, acquired from Cleveland in a trade, is killing it at Triple-A Albuquerque. He’s slashing .336/.459/.664, good for a 1.222 OPS. He has nine home runs and 32 RBIs in 37 games.

However, barring injuries on the big-league roster, his promotion to the Rockies is not imminent. I’ve been told that he still has a lot of work to do on his defense at first and third base. While his outfield defense is solid and he’s got a good arm, there is not any room for him in the outfield right now.

Also, keep in mind that numbers are inflated for Isotopes players because the ball really flies in the Pacific Coast League. So statistics are deceiving, and the organization is rightfully skeptical about flashy numbers coming out of Albuquerque. Jones will likely get called up this season, but I don’t know when.

Patrick, do you think we’ll be able to keep Jurickson Profar after this season? He’s starting to look like that stud prospect people thought he was going to be a decade ago. In his last 12 games, he’s slashing .360/.418/.620. Profar, Brenton Doyle and Kris Bryant aren’t a terrible outfield. What do you think?

— Mark, Arvada

Mark, you’re correct that Profar is flashing his talent. He was an integral part of Colorado’s win over Miami Monday night.

But here’s the thing. Profar was seeking a bigger, longer contract than the one-year, $7.75 million deal (with $1 million in incentives) he received from the Rockies late in spring training. He signed with Colorado because he couldn’t land the longer deal he wanted. So think of this as a prove-it season for Profar.

The 30-year-old outfielder opted out of the final year of his three-year, $21 million contract with the Padres, so I don’t see him sticking around Colorado after this season. In fact, he could be on the trade block come July. The same could be true of outfielder Randal Grichuk, who’s also in the final year of his contract.

Next season, the Rockies would love to have a starting outfield of No. 1 prospect Zac Veen in left, Doyle in center and Bryant in right, but it remains to be seen if Veen can match that timeline. Also, Sean Bouchard, currently on the injured list, will be returning, perhaps in the second half of this season.

Ryan McMahon is not progressing, but regressing so far in 2023. Where’s the concern level at?

— James, Denver

James, I would say the concern level is high. McMahon, who in March 2022 signed a six-year, $70 million contract, is clearly frustrated right now. He’s fighting himself at the plate and not quite sure what approach to take. He’s healthy and he still has good bat speed and natural power, but he’s a tick late on a lot of pitches, which is part of the reason why he’s fouling off so many pitches and why hasn’t been consistently pulling the ball with power.

I scout I talked to recently said McMahon’s swing is too long and a bit loopy. The scout said McMahon needs a more compact swing. Right now, McMahon is struggling to make adjustments.

Do you see any implications from the bench-clearing scuffle against the Phillies, mainly from Bryce Harper’s “losing organization” comments?

— Andrew Christenberry, Nashville

By “implications” I assume you mean retaliation. I don’t see that happening, especially since the two teams won’t play each other again this season. I suppose Rockies reliever Jake Bird might be a bit more subdued with his gestures on the mound, but I think the incident is over.

For those who are unaware, on May 14 at Coors Field, Bird yelled and clapped his glove in the direction of the Phillies dugout after Bird out down the Phillies in the top of the seventh. Harper went ballistic exception, charging out of the visiting dugout and screaming at Bird. According to the Twittersphere, Harper yelled “You’re a loser ‘blanking’ organization. Every single one of you! ”

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