C.J. Cron has been a welcomed surprise at first base the last two seasons for the Colorado Rockies, but his days are numbered in 2023 in Denver.
Joining the Colorado Rockies on a minor-league deal in 2021 after a knee injury derailed his 2020 season with the Detroit Tigers, Cron resurrected his career hitting .281/.375/.530 with 28 homers and 92 RBI in 142 games played. That performance earned him a two-year/$14.5 million contract extension (through the end of the 2023 season) and fixture in the middle of the Rockies lineup.
He followed up in 2022 hitting a formidable .257/.315/.468 with 29 home runs and 102 RBI. However, a closer look at his 2022 numbers might suggest that the 33-year-old’s time in Colorado is running out.
In the second half of last season, Cron hit a putrid .197/.263/.341 with only eight home runs and 33 RBI. That may be a cause for concern for the right-handed slugger.
What may determine C.J. Cron’s future with the Colorado Rockies
The good news for the Rockies is that diminishing production from a veteran creates opportunities for younger players and they just happen to have two vying for playing time.
Elehuris Montero and Michael Toglia, who are both 24 years old and play multiple positions and both saw their first major league action in 2022, could see themselves platooning at first base, especially if Cron continues on a downward trend.
Montero, the right-handed slugger, played limited time at first and third base last season and is raw defensively and, with Ryan McMahon patrolling third in the future (after moving to second this season with the injury to Brendan Rodgers), first is where the majority of his playing time will come.
The left-handed hitting Toglia was a late-season call-up in 2022 spent time in right field and at first base. He could start the season in Triple-A Albuquerque to get regular at-bats, but a promotion back to Denver will happen.
A likely scenario is that Cron is the everyday starter for the first couple of months of the season. If the Rockies are not in playoff contention and Cron is playing well, he becomes a trade chip for a team in need of a power hitting rental and the Rockies platoon Montero and Toglia at first against favorable pitching matchups.
The other scenario is Cron continues to struggle at the plate, which forces the Rockies to release him, opening the door for a Montero/Toglia combo as well.
Either way, C.J. Cron’s is only keeping the seat warm at first base for a little while and his tenure in Colorado will be coming to a close.