Rockies’ Ryan McMahon could take his defensive prowess to SS

Aug 14, 2021; San Francisco, California, USA; Colorado Rockies third baseman Ryan McMahon (24) fields a grounder off the bat of San Francisco Giants first baseman Darin Ruf during the ninth inning at Oracle Park. Mandatory Credit: D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan McMahon should have won a Gold Glove in 2021.

The Colorado Rockies second and third baseman ranked among the National League’s best infielders in numerous advanced metrics, finishing first in Defensive Runs Saved, first in Ultimate Zone Rating, and sixth in Outs Above Average. Despite that, he lost out on the award to his former teammate, Nolan Arenado, perhaps bringing to light the need for a multi-positional version of the award. UZR, in particularly, rated McMahon highly; he was the top-ranked third baseman and third-best second baseman in the NL according to that statistic.

Instead, McMahon will spend the offseason light on hardware, both because of the Gold (and, arguably, even Platinum) Glove shortage as well as his own team’s failures. To make matters worse, an incredibly good defensive infield is about to be broken up with the impending departure of free-agent shorstop Trevor Story. That, of course, will leave quite a void in what is probably the strength of the team.

But the Rockies have a plan.

The club has discussed internally the possibility of shifting McMahon to shortstop, per Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. Rockies GM Bill Schmidt told Saunders the Rockies like McMahon’s range and feel he could be a fit at the position. It seems strange given McMahon’s lack of experience there, but the 26-year-old infielder has been good at worst and phenomenal at best at all of the other spots he’s played, so it’s conceivable that he might at least be decent at short. One rival scout feels the same way, telling Mile High Sports that McMahon’s instincts, footwork, and arm strength would all play there. “He’s a shoo-in to develop into an above-average glove at short, and he’d probably be better than that,” the scout added.

McMahon is under team control for three more seasons. He finished 2021 as a 4-WAR player despite being slightly below average offensively thanks to his defense.

Should they not find McMahon or anyone else currently in the organization a suitable replacement for Trevor Story, there are a few realistic options for the Rockies available on the market. Those names are probably limited to something like Andrelton Simmons and Freddy Galvis instead of Corey Seager and Carlos Correa. It’s worth noting the Rockies haven’t ruled out attempting to re-sign Story, Saunders notes, although the club isn’t thought to be one of the teams that has been in contact with him up to this point.

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