The club also sent OF Andrew Brown outright to the minors after claiming him off of waivers from the St. Louis Cardinals earlier this offseason. The moves leave the Rockies with 38 players on the 40-man roster, which gives them the flexibility to add players in a trade. The idea behind adding Friedrich and Cabrera to the 40-man roster is, of course, protecting them from being plucked away from the Rockies by another team in the Rule 5 Draft.
There are reasons both players would draw interest from teams around the league with open space on the roster. Friedrich was not only a 1st round draft selection, but Baseball America ranked him the 33rd best prospect in baseball prior to the 2011 season. Now, he followed that up with another 5.00+ E.R.A. at Double-A Tulsa, but all hope isn't lost for the big lefty. At 6-foot-4, Friedrich still possess the promise many saw in him on draft day 2008, but he absolutely has to get back on track next year or he's a reliever at best.
Cabrera pitched so well at Low-A Asheville he earned himself a SAL League All-Star appearance and promotion to High-A Modesto. After striking out 110 batters at Low-A, he retired 107 batters on strikes in High-A and lead the minors in strikeouts. Now, as exciting as those numbers are, Cabrera was 23 which would qualify as old for both leagues. Still, his control is very impressive, but he projects more as a back-end starter than a front of the rotation guy like Matt Moore, who led the minor leagues in strikeouts the previous two seasons.
Another move of note the Rockies made over the past couple of days was signing 3B Brandon Wood to a minor league contract that will pay him $100K above the minimum MLB salary if he makes the team out of Spring Training. This signing was made solely to add to the Rockies' organizational depth at 3B while they prepare to trade Ian Stewart this offseason and let Nolan Arenado, the newest Scott Boras client, get another full season in the minors.
Still, forgetting the fact that Wood was brought in as an emergency backup plan, it's an interesting signing. It's interesting because the Rockies have been linked to Wood for a long time. Wood, of course, grabbed everyone's attention in baseball when he exploded for 43 home runs at Rancho Cucamonga in 2005 as a 20-year-old. Baseball America ranked him as the third best prospect in all of baseball coming into the next season. The former 1st round pick of the Angels never got on track in the big leagues and finally his career had found him in a position where the Rockies could add him for next to nothing and he didn't really have a better option.
Wood does still carry a career MLB batting average below Mendoza (.186) and a horrific OPS+ of 39 (!). In fact, the only position players since 1901 to have more plate appearances than Wood's 751 and an OPS+ of 39 or lower are Bill Bergen, Angel Salazar, and Donnie Sadler. Bergen had an OPS+ of 21 when he played catcher for the Reds and Brooklyn Superbas in the early 1900's. Salazar bounced around a little, playing with three teams in five seasons. Sadler was a 5-foot-6 utility man that was drafted by the Red Sox in the 11th round in 1994.
Anyway, Wood is coming off the best season he's had in the big leagues. His .220/.270/.347 line in 99 games with Pittsburgh this year didn't set the world on fire, but it still was a major improvement over his previous offensive output. It's easy to knock Wood for the numbers he's put up thus far in his career after the promise he showed to start it. However, despite his struggles, Wood works very hard. Last offseason, after a .146/.174/.208 line and OPS+ of 6 in 81 games with the Angels, Wood went to the Arizona Fall League. He was 25 and still went to try and get better against some of the top young players in the minors. That says a lot about Wood and his makeup. The Rockies could do a lot worse on a minor league contract.