Jon Gray, who teamed with German Marquez to provide a 1-2 punch in the rotation for the Rockies, agreed to a one-year contract worth $5.6 million Friday instead of filing for arbitration.
The Rockies also avoided arbitration with three first-time arbitration eligible players -- Kyle Freeland ($2.875 million), David Dahl ($2.475 million) and Carlos Esteves ($1.08 million).
The Rockies still face possible arbitration hearings with shortstop Trevor Story and catcher Tony Wolters. The sides, however, can continue to try and work out a deal until they actually go to arbitration in February, and an award is made by the arbitrator. Hearings will be held in Phoenix Feb. 3-21.
And the sides are close enough in their arbitration offers, which were submitted Friday, that it is not out of the question they will settle before the hearing. Trevor Story submitted an $11.5 million request and the rockies offered $10.75 million. Wolters filed at $2.575 million and the Rockies submitted a $1.9 million offer.
Gray emerged as a critical part of the Rockies pitching plans last year before being placed on the injured list on Aug. 21, 2019 with a stress fracture in his left ankle, a recurrence of an injury he suffered in 2017. He avoided surgery in 2017, but said at the time of the injury last August he planned to have surgery this time to help make sure the ankle heals properly.
The signing of Gray eliminates the Rockies facing arbitration with the right-hander, who has been emphatic that he welcomes the challenge of pitching in Coors Field. He was 11-8 with a 3.84 ERA in 26 appearances, 25 starts, last year, and went 6-2 with a 3.46 ERA at Coors Field.
Gray initially felt a problem with the ankle last season during an Aug. 8 start at San Diego when he slipped coming up the dugout steps. He was scratched from his next scheduled start, but then started against the Marlins on Aug. 16, allowing five hits without a walk, striking out seven in eight innings of a 3-0 victory. He threw only 100 pitches in the eight innings.
That was his final appearance of the season.
Marquez, meanwhile, signed a five-year, $43 million contract last April, which includes a potential $2.5 million buyout on a $16 million option for 2024.
Freeland finished fourth in NL Cy Young voting in 2018 when he set a franchise record for a starting pitcher with a 2.85 ERA while going 17-7. The past season, however, he struggled, eventually was sent to Triple-A Albuquerque for a refresher course, and after rejoining the Rockies spent time on the disabled list.
Dahl was selected to the NL All-Star team. He missed the final seven weeks of the season with a high ankle sprain, finishing with a .302 average, 15 home runs and 61 RBI in 100 games.
Estevez appeared in parts of three of the last four seasons with the Rockies, including making 71 appearances while compiling a 3.75 ERA out of the bullpen last year.