In the Rockpile: Todd Helton returns; Manuel Corpas, Jeff Francis sign

Todd Helton will be back for at least one more season at first base for Colorado. (Karl Gehring, The Denver Post)

Without much fanfare to the Colorado Rockies offseason — this should come to no surprise for Rockies fans — the biggest offseason news is the announcement that veteran first baseman Todd Heltonwill return for the 2013 season.

Sidelined with injuries over the most recent season, Helton apparently feels well enough about his recovery from hip surgery to pick up the glove and take first base again for Colorado. The biggest question upon his return announcement is what about next season? Will Helton retire in October? He has left the door open according to the Denver Post, but all signs would seem to indicate this year is, most likely, his last season as a major league player. If it were to be, he should announce it prior to the beginning of the regular season so he can take his due victory lap around the league, collecting gifts and picture opportunities.

It will be bittersweet to see him go. He is a Rockies legend, worthy of replacing the nameless player statue outside of Coors Field. His time will be fondly remembered, even if his consistent play over the last three years has diminished. Constantly battling back and hip injuries, Helton should take his bat and glove home soon and trade them in for a spot in the dugout, hopefully Colorado’s.

With Helton’s announcement being the bigger headline, the Rockies have also signed former Rockie Manuel Corpas to return to the bullpen on a minor league deal with a spring training invite in hand. Corpas may be welcomed back by Rockies fans, but his arm still leaves much to be desired, especially because the bullpen was the sole reason that  the Rockies didn’t lose more than 100 games last season. The last thing they needed was to bring back a “veteran” arm who is known for not being too reliable when called upon.

The other “big” news from the hot stove season was starting pitcher Jeff Francis signing a one-year deal for $1.5 million, with performance escalators that could double his salary if he pitches 210 innings in 2013. Francis, the owner of a 6-7 record as a Rockies starter last season, has been trying to mount a comeback with his original team. He projects to be the Rockies number-one pitcher for this upcoming season.

Less than a month until pitchers and catchers report to Scottsdale.

Here’s to hoping the Rockies can manage a better 2013 with a largely unchanged roster.

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