Front Range Stunned – Tot Ziens ‘Massacre’

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Updated: April 5, 2017

All The News Fit For The Front Range

Front Range Stunned – Tot Ziens ‘Massacre’
Francis Ferry, NLN baseball beat writer

April 14, 2025: Aurora, Colorado – The seal is still smelling freshly broken on the 2025 season and already Aurora GM Will Topham is reshaping the club with an eye on the future – and the Borealis’ #1 pick from the 2015 draft is the casualty of that action.

‘Massacre’s departure joins a list of lengthy tenures recently severed – or to be

Rivera adds to rotation stability with but a minimal cost increase – or does it?

Arturo ‘Massacre’ Jiménez, the 11th overall pick in 2015, was stunningly traded today to the Amsterdam Lions in a deal that no one saw coming and happened in ‘a blink of an eye’. But before you bemoan the loss of ‘Massacre’ – and reliever Manuel Galloca, and Aurora’s 4th round pick in this years draft, look at the big picture and what Aurora get’s in return: Amsterdam’s Ace starter Carlos Rivera.

“We’ve grown-up with Arturo,” Topham began as he addressed the press, “and over the course of his career we’ve faced numerous inquiries about him – most we never remotely considered, save one – during the ‘Tugboat‘ negotiations. But today, we found ourselves in a position where we felt our hands were… tied.”

Tied, you may ask? The 61-33, 3.32 career-Borealis had made it clear last season – he had no intention to sign a contract extension with Aurora, and after his last arbitration contract for 2025 was signed (for $10.6M), he’d declared his intention to leave for free agency at season’s end, leaving Aurora with a big hole to fill. Was it his distain for manager Octávio Ríos, as he’d have you believe, or was it the yo-yo nature the ball club has used him over his career. Elevated to the Big Leagues in 2020 where he started 32 games (and walked a league high 124 batters) Arturo would consistently be amongst the League Leaders in K’s (averaging 200 K per season in the years he predominately started), but in 2022 his control – which has improved, and inconsistency landed him in the ‘pen – where he made 44 appearances in 2023, before earning himself a spot back in the rotation last year with ‘Sawmill’s demise. As it would turn out, 2024 would be his best year yet (2.89 ERA, 205 K and only 60 BB in 199 IP).

Irregardless of his motivations, in comes the Lions, who had publicly suggested that their own former #1 pick (10th overall in Topham’s first PEBA draft in 2011 – 4 slots after Aurora’s top selection, ‘Gypsy’ John Foster), could be had.

Whatever Amsterdam’s motivations may have been for considering a trade, ‘be had’ was all Aurora needed to know. “This deal felt like it happened in a blink of an eye – we inquired and Bob (Weinberg, Amsterdam GM) came right back with Arturo’s name and… Pow, it just clicked. We had a brief back and forth on details, but the deal was, in our eyes, done at that point.” Topham also noted it was probably the easiest, quickest ‘big name’ deal the teams has pulled off.

What, you might ask, would possess the Aurora GM to deal for a pitcher 4-years ‘Massacre’s senior? Money and security. Rivera’s $13M deal for 2025 is just $2.4M more than what Jiménez is scheduled to make, but whereas Jiménez will be a free agent – and likely to command big dollars, Rivera will be under contract for another three seasons at $13.5M, $14M, and $14.5M, with a fourth year a team option at $15M. Even if they were able to sign ‘Massacre’ to an extension, it’s likely to have been far more pricy.

Plus, Aurora’s scouting department feel that Rivera has yet to lose a step – which if holds true for a couple of more seasons will have made this an excellent deal for the Borealis.

The move, which will no doubt be a tough one for fans to swallow – ‘Massacre’ casts a big shadow on the mound, is consistent with what Aurora has done over the years – it keeps one eye on the future as they build for today. Carlos Rivera guarantees Aurora’s new rotation will be complete for next season (and into 2027 if Provost opts into his $35M contract). We will also point out, in case you hadn’t noticed, Carlos Rivera ain’t chopped liver and a top-three of Provost, Smith and Rivera still looks to be arguably the cream of the SL.

Rivera began a Nutmegger…

… and became a Lion…

Over his 12-year career with the Connecsterdam Nutlions Rivera was 151-118 with a career 3.60 ERA. His career K average may sit a bit below ‘Massacre’s, but his superior control will no doubt see fewer walks. Rivera may not have the devastating fastball of Jiménez, but he has a much more rounded repertoire of pitches that just might be more effective against that tough Evil Evas line-up. Sure, Aurora may be taking a chance on an older arm – and now the top four starters are now averaging 32.5-years of age – surly the oldest in the PEBA, but “We save money in the long run,” Topham pointed out, “if we were to fill that spot with a pricy free agent in the offseason. We got ourselves a quality player, at a reasonable price, for longer than this season. Now we know where we’ll stand over the next two seasons of contract negotiations. I think it’s a win-win for us.”

There may not be $$$ for Mike…

… but will there be $$$ for ‘Big Whiskey’…?

Where they stand is a player salary total of $216.3M for 2025 – a PEBA record; though to be fair, both Shin Seiki and Florida have bypassed Crystal Lake’s previous record of $193M set last year. The Evas sit at $207.8M and Florida is at $205.7M this year – All three the first to top $200M in history. Aurora is slated at $197M for 2026, which doesn’t count Mike Hale, who is due to be a free agent (and reportedly looking for a big pay day).

With the 2026 roster basically already set in stone, it is 2027 that is looking like the big year for Aurora with Provost an opportunity to opt out of his contract and big names such as River Pope, Mike Britt and Paul Carlisle all potential free agents.

Lost in all the high-end pitching discussions was the addition of Manuel Galloca to the trade. Manuel was a 3rd round pick in the 2017 draft for Aurora, who moved rapidly through Aurora’s system until he stalled at Thornton, where he’s been since the 2018 season, while posting a sub-3.00 ERA each season – including his brief cup’s of coffee the past two seasons. Yet Manuel couldn’t quite crest that hump and stick and as he finally has run the course of his options – and with Aurora’s coveted bullpen spots in high demand (see Félix Peña and Lando Lagerveld), Galloca’s days needed to be numbered. He will no doubt be glad to be ‘hopping over the pond’.

Rivera pitched two days ago – too soon to easily move into Arturo Jiménez’ spot – which would have been today. When questioned about the rotation, all Topham would say is that ”Terror’ will remain at Thornton, to continue to start,” having also last pitched two days ago, and for now the best bet is Sam Gordon will make his major league debut – baptism by fire style, as Aurora opens a 4-game series with Shin Seiki, as a lack of days-off and a lack of innings precludes Romano and Perkins from moving up a day and pitching on short rest. Gordon may get a second start (v. Fargo), while Rivera slides into ‘Massacre’s spot in the 3-hole and is expected to make his Aurora debut, also against the Dinosaurs, thus giving everyone a defacto extra days rest after a lengthy run of games to start the season.