LOS ANGELES — Colton Welker’s difficult journey to the majors has hit another detour.
The Rockies announced Wednesday that Welker has been nominated for an assignment. The move freed up a spot on the 40-man roster for right-hander José Ureña, who was selected on the active roster and was scheduled to start Wednesday night’s game against the Dodgers.
Welker, 24, underwent season-ending right shoulder surgery on June 1 to repair a torn labrum.
“These are tough decisions for an organization, but we felt that where Colton is right now, at this part of his career, that decision probably made the most sense, as opposed to someone else,” said manager Bud Black.
In May 2021, Welker was suspended for 80 games without pay by Major League Baseball after testing positive for the performance-enhancing substance dehydrochlormethyltestosterone (DHCMT). The suspension limited him to just 23 games with Triple-A Albuquerque.
The Rockies promoted him from Albuquerque late last season and he made his major league debut Sept. 8 as an eighth-inning pinch hitter, flying away. He went 7 for 37 (.189) in 19 games with the Rockies.
Welker, a 2016 fourth-round draft pick from Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., showed a lot of potential early in his pro career with the Rockies organization. He was named a mid-season star for Double-A Hartford in 2019.
Welker was optioned to Triple-A to start the 2022 season, but had just 45 plate appearances in 23 games before going on the disabled list.
Colorado could have recalled Welker and placed him in the major league’s 60-day IL, but that would have required paying him prorated major league minimum wage for the rest of the year (about $350,000). . Colorado instead opted to drop him from the 40-man roster and risk losing him to another club.
Injured players can’t be outright, so the Rockies have a week to trade Welker or release him. The Rockies will likely release Welker, which means 29 other teams would have a chance to sign him for waivers. If Welker goes through unclaimed waivers, the Rockies would have the chance to re-sign him to a minor league deal.