DENVER -- The Rockies are close to retaining their key free agent, left-hander Jorge De La Rosa, a Major League source confirmed to MLB.com on Monday night.
De La Rosa, who will return as the No. 2 pitcher in the rotation behind Ubaldo Jimenez, received heavy interest from several teams, but the Rockies went into the offseason believing they could compete financially if the offers stayed in the three-year range.
Since June 5, 2009, De La Rosa has gone 24-9 with a 4.07 ERA in 43 games, including 42 starts. Many experts pegged him as the No. 2 lefty on the free-agent market, behind Cliff Lee, and prevailing wisdom was that he would wait until Lee signed to take advantage of offers from teams that missed that opportunity.
News that the Rockies are close with De La Rosa comes on the heels of sources saying that shortstop Troy Tulowitzki had reached an agreement on a seven-year contract extension that will keep him with the club through 2020.
The Rockies offered De La Rosa arbitration so they could receive two picks in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft if he signed with another team, but they quickly put together their offer, and things heated up by Monday evening. A report by FoxSports.com had the Rockies and Nationals putting offers on the table, with at least two more teams prepared to extend offers.
Financial terms of the potential deal were unclear. The Denver Post reported that if it's a three-year deal, it would be in the $30 million range. Earlier this offseason, the Dodgers signed left-hander Ted Lilly to a three-year, $33 million contract, and De La Rosa's contract was expected to fall in that range.
Last season, De La Rosa went 8-7 with a 4.22 ERA in 20 starts but missed 67 games because of a torn sheath of the tendon in his left middle finger. He struggled for two starts after his return but finished the year by going six or more innings in all but two of his final 14 starts.
Since joining the Rockies in 2008, De La Rosa is 34-24 with a 4.49 ERA and 434 strikeouts in 81 games, including 75 starts. Before that he was 15-23 with a 5.95 ERA in 97 games (41 starts) in parts of four seasons with the Brewers (2004 to 2006) and the Royals (2006 and 2007).
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.