DENVER (AP) — The blazing fastball of German Márquez elevated him to the big leagues. His investment in a couple of electric breaking pitches just earned him big bucks.
Márquez and the Colorado Rockies agreed to a $43 million, five-year contract Saturday.
The right-hander’s new contract calls for a $1.5 million signing bonus, payable within 30 days of the deal’s approval by the commissioner’s office, and salaries of $1 million this year, $4.5 million in 2020, $7.5 million in 2021, $11 million in 2022 and $15 million in 2023. Colorado has a $16 million option for 2024 with a $2.5 million buyout.
“I want to continue my hard work. Nothing changes,” Márquez said through a translator. “The goal is to always win a championship here. I look forward to this opportunity.”
Already armed with a 95-mph fastball, Márquez has steadily developed a mystifying slider and curve. He’s working on a changeup that could take him to an even higher level. Márquez struck out a franchise-best 230 last season, going 14-11 with a 3.77 ERA.
“I’m glad he’s part of our team and not a part of another one,” Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich cracked.
Márquez was acquired by Colorado on Jan. 28, 2016, along with reliever Jake McGee in a deal with Tampa Bay.
Back then, Márquez was another minor league pitcher in the Rays organization with a lively fastball. But Rockies scout Jack Gillis had a gut feeling about him.
“It wasn’t any magic stat or any sort of fancy analytic this or that, it was somebody who had seen him pitch for a number of times, and a number of reports,” Bridich explained. “It was a scout willing to ... take a strong stance and say, ‘Yeah, I think we should believe in this guy.’
“At the time, he had electric stuff. He still had to work on his changeup back then. But it was a loose, clean arm. ... It was just a lot of things that you look for in what you would consider a front-line pitching, starter prospect. He checked a lot of boxes.”
If Márquez finishes among the top three in Cy Young Award voting at least twice over the next five years, the option becomes a mutual option. His 2023 and 2024 salaries would escalate by $1 million for each prior Cy Young Award and by $500,000 for each finish from second through fifth.
The Rockies renewed Márquez’s contract for $565,000 this spring, just $10,000 over the major league minimum despite his stellar 2018.
A new deal for Márquez has been in the works for a while.
“There was enough communication where as time passed, enough information passed between everybody involved. It was the right time to get it done,” Bridich said.
The 24-year-old from Venezuela got the start in Game 3 of the NL Division Series against Milwaukee last season. He allowed two runs over five innings.
Márquez forms a potent 1-2 combination with lefty Kyle Freeland. They have a friendly rivalry.
“The competition between me and Freeland, it’s always been there and great to have,” said Márquez, who won a Silver Slugger Award last season after hitting .300 with one homer. “Not only Kyle, but rest of the staff.”
Márquez would have been eligible for salary arbitration next winter and for free agency after the 2022 season.
“Every day, at this level especially, we earn what we get,” Bridich said. “The minute we think we’ve got something figured out, is the minute we get humbled — or are about to.
“There’s a lot of hard work and a lot of pushing each other and a lot of helping each other along the way. You need people who are willing to commit to that as teammates. It’s been a healthy part of our process over the last number of years. He’s been a big part of it. We expect to see that to continue.”