Rockies lock up lefty Kyle Freeland to new five-year deal

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Kyle Freeland has been a strong presence in the Rockies rotation and Colorado is making sure they’ll keep him around.  

The Colorado Rockies have signed another one of their veterans to a contract extension.

This time it’s left-handed starter Kyle Freeland, who the club signed to a five-year, $64.5 million contract extension on Tuesday, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

The move is already the second significant extension given out by the club this season after it signed versatile infielder Ryan McMahon to a six-year deal back in March. While both Freeland and McMahon are good players in their own rights, these deals represent something of a head-scratcher after the team was so openly against throwing down the appropriate funds to keep superstars Trevor Story and Nolan Arenado around in recent years.

Kyle Freeland has earned Rockies contract but the move still leaves questions

As Passan points out, Freeland is not only a homegrown player but he is also a Denver native. The 28-year-old southpaw was drafted by the Rockies in the first round of the 2014 draft, making his big league debut with the club just three seasons later in 2017, a year in which he managed to make 28 starts on his way to a seventh-place finish in the NL Rookie of the Year race.

2018 was an even better season for the lefty, as he not only won 17 games but also managed to post an incredible 2.85 ERA by a pitcher who calls Coors Field his home. Freeland rode this performance to a fourth-place finish in the NL Cy Young Award voting that season.

An interesting wrinkle to Freeland’s new contract is that he is able to opt out at the conclusion of the 2024 season if he manages to finish in the top five in the NL Cy Young voting in 2022 or 2023. His sophomore season showed the world that he is able to perform consistently at the game’s highest level.

In the COVID-shortened 2020 season, Freeland led the NL in quality starts (nine) and all of MLB in double plays induced (15). After missing the first month of last season, he still managed to make 23 starts, lowering his typical BB/9 range to a slightly more respectable number.

While the dreaded Coors Effect weighs on pitchers every bit as much as it does hitters, Freeland has been able to post a relatively decent 4.59 home ERA at a park where pitchers getting lit up is a common occurrence. Named the 2022 Opening Day starter for the club, it’s obvious that he is viewed as a piece that the Rockies want around for their next push to contention.

All told, Kyle Freeland has thrown over 660 innings as a Colorado Rockie in parts of six seasons. He sports a 4.28 ERA with a respectable 4.54 FIP and 115 ERA+. As the ace of this Rockies staff, Freeland will pair nicely alongside German Marquez as the club continues its crawl back into the playoff picture.

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