Troy Tulowitzki has officially played his last game in a Colorado Rockies uniform. After several years of trade speculation, the Rockies finally decided to end the Tulo-era in Colorado by shipping the 30-year-old shortstop to the Toronto Blue Jays as the main figure in a six-player, blockbuster trade that went down late Monday night. When the dust settled, Tulowitzki and relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins were headed to Toronto in exchange for shortstop Jose Reyes, and right-handed pitchers Jeff Hoffman, Miguel Castro and Jesus Tinoco.
While the move had to be partially expected, it still sent shockwaves throughout the league. Tulowitzki, a five-time National League All-Star, had been the face of the Rockies franchise from pretty much the moment he moved to the big leagues on a full-time basis back in 2007. For most of his career, Tulowitzki was considered by the vast majority of scouts and executives around the league to be a once-in-a-generation type of talent, and the ideal player to build a franchise around. He definitely struggled to stay healthy during his time in Colorado – he only played in 140 or more games during three of his eight full-time seasons in the Majors – but there is no denying that was a difference-maker, both at the plate and in the field, every time he was in the Rockies’ lineup.
The move has been met with mixed reviews in and around the Rockies’ clubhouse. The handling of Tulowitzki’s trade and the fact that he was blind-sided by the news reportedly miffed several of the team’s core group of young players. It also didn’t help matters that there was public knowledge of a gentleman’s agreement between team owner Dick Monfort and his star shortstop that Monfort would come to Tulowitzki before going through with any kind of trade, something that didn’t happen on Monday night. On the flip side, the trade of a player of Tulowitzki’s magnitude signified that the Rockies clearly understand that their roster is in dire need of being rebuilt. The team’s pitching staff more closely resembles that of a Triple-A team than the staff that has carried the San Francisco Giants to three World Series titles in five years. At the same time, you can’t really argue that they have had one of the most talented everyday rosters in the league over the last two seasons. Nonetheless, the results just aren’t showing up in the win/loss column, and the Rockies appear to be headed for another season with an overall record that is well below the .500 mark.
Rumors are already circulating about Colorado’s intentions to turn around and trade Reyes before Friday’s trade deadline, and will only continue to grow stronger now that the team has promoted 22-year-old shortstop Trevor Story, one of the team’s top prospects, to the big leagues. On top of that, the Rockies used the third overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft to select high school shortstop Brendan Rodgers, who was rated by many scouts as the best available player in the draft. Regardless of how the trade ultimately pans out for them, you have to give the Rockies some credit for recognizing their plan wasn’t working and making a serious move – one that involved trading the most popular player in franchise history – towards tearing things down and starting what will likely be a lengthy rebuilding process.
At first glance, this trade appears to be a head-scratcher on the Blue Jays’ end of the deal. Many people around the league expected them to be active near the league’s trade deadline, but most people felt that they would be targeting pitching help. They were, after all, leading the entire league in total runs scored prior to acquiring Tulowitzki, while ranking 23rd in the league in team Earned Run Average (ERA). However, when you take a closer look at things, the Blue Jays just seriously upgraded their team.
The Blue Jays took on a significant risk by acquiring Tulowitzki with his injury history and massive contract – there is no hiding from that fact. Nevertheless his presence in the Blue Jays’ lineup not only improves the team offensively, but he should also have a direct effect on the performance of the team’s pitching staff. First and foremost, here is a side-by-side comparison of Tulowitzki’s and Reyes’ stats for the 2015 season:
- 87 games played
- .300 batting average
- 12 home runs
- 53 RBI
- .818 OPS
- 69 games played
- .285 batting average
- 4 home runs
- 34 RBI
- 16 stolen bases
- .708 OPS
Tulowitzki is clearly an offensive upgrade over Reyes, but we believe his impact in the field will be more significant for the Blue Jays in their quest to make a late season run at a spot in the American League playoffs. Reyes was quickly becoming a defensive liability for Toronto while playing what many people feel is the most important position in the infield. Tulowitzki, meanwhile, is a perennial Gold Glove award candidate – he has won two during his career – and the defensive upgrade he presents should directly help lower the Blue Jays’ team ERA.
Lastly, it would be irresponsible of us to not point out the fact that the Blue Jays were able to swing this deal without giving up Daniel Norris, Aaron Sanchez, or Jonathan Harris, the team’s top young pitching prospects. Given the risk that the Blue Jays assumed with this, there is some bust potential. With that being said, we see this as a move that sets Toronto to be a playoff contender for at least the next two seasons.
All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.