Yesterday, news broke that Troy Tulowitzki and his agent Paul Cohen would likely meet with Colorado Rockies upper management this morning to talk about a trade. While he was firmly committed to the franchise, and signed two extensions with the club, the team has not performed well.
So what did Tulo and his agent decide?
In a remarkable public relations move -- genuine or otherwise -- Tulowitzki has taken the most heroic stance possible:
#Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki, after meeting agent today, says he will not demand a trade, calls upon himself to play better to end the losing— Thomas Harding (@harding_at_mlb) May 14, 2015
... Tulo insists he didn't authorize or order his agent to tell @nypost he was disgruntled. He understands agent's zeal to protect career— Thomas Harding (@harding_at_mlb) May 14, 2015
... He said he'll accept what the #Rockies decide but it's his job to play the game correctly, said he hasn't done enough. Story later— Thomas Harding (@harding_at_mlb) May 15, 2015
... don't think it's fair to my teammates and the relationships I've built here to take that route."— Thomas Harding (@harding_at_mlb) May 15, 2015
Tulowitzki undoubtedly wanted to win a championship in Colorado, but once again the team has quickly slumped out of the playoff race. This latest update notwithstanding, the best possible course of action for both parties is for Tulowitzki to be traded so the Rockies can begin their rebuilding process sooner rather than later.
Could one of the teams from New York step in?
The Mets and the Yankees seem to almost make too much sense off the bat. Neither organization has a long-term solution at shortstop, and while the Mets are more cash strapped than the Yankees, they could likely pull something off. The trade may seem to work on paper, but after a further examination, it doesn't seem like a realistic possibility.
Obviously, #Mets can't talk publicly about another team's player, but internal thinking remains same on Tulo: not a trade target for now.— David Lennon (@DPLennon) May 13, 2015
Despite a tepid start to the 2015 season, the asking price for Tulowiztki is going to be sky high. There's no question that when healthy, he's one of the most dynamic players in baseball. When he's managed to play in more than 120 games, Tulowitzki has been worth at least 5.2 fWAR; and in 2014 posted a value of 5.3 in just 91 games.
To pull off a deal, the Mets would likely have to part with recent call-up Noah Syndergaard, among other top prospects. The timing simply doesn't make sense for the Mets, as they're winning games with their homegrown rotation, and would be insane to break them up so early. Zack Wheeler will be healthy at some point in 2016, and could help form MLB's most fearsome rotation.
Unlike the Mets, the Yankees have plenty of money, but lack the big name prospect that the Rockies would want in return. They're ranked 18th by Baseball America in terms of overall farm strength and probably wouldn't be able to put together a strong enough package. Without a premier prospect to send along in a deal, the amount of money the Yankees have unfortunately doesn't matter. While each of these teams could undoubtedly use Tulowitzki, there doesn't seem to be a match.
Will the Mariners address their hole at short?
The Mariners recently gave up on Brad Miller (at least at shortstop) and have given the position to Chris Taylor. While Taylor is a much better fielder, he obviously doesn't compare the overall package that Tulowitzki represents. Moving to the AL might also have some health benefits, as he could use the DH slot throughout the season.
Despite having Nelson Cruz on the roster, Seth Smith is the everyday DH, and could easily be moved to let Tulowitzki get a day off from fielding.
Most importantly however, the Mariners have the ability to match up with the Rockies in a trade. Every team in baseball would take Tulowitzki, but few teams have the prospects to be able to acquire him. While they're ranked 25th in farm system strength, the Mariners are flush with pitching depth, and could offer Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, or Danny Hultzen as part of any package. If a trade were completed, it would give the Mariners an offense of Tulowitzki, Cruz, Robinson Cano, and Kyle Seager.
Their infield would be truly elite, and they could still look for pitching help later in the season. The Mariners were incredibly close to the playoffs in 2014, and likely would have reached the Wild Card game had they signed Cruz the previous offseason. If Tulowitzki can be traded for, the Mariners owe it to themselves to explore their options.
Giancarlo Stanton needs to flex his power
While most contract announcements are full of smiles and praise, Stanton's tone was markedly different. He noted how his deal wasn't motivated by money, but rather by an understanding with ownership that the Marlins would no longer be a fire sale team. They would invest money in their core, and make strides to upgrade their team when possible.
To help accomplish this goal, Stanton agreed to backload his contract, and will be paid just $107 million for the first six years. Coincidentally, Tulowitzki's deal has just six years left on it, and could be the missing piece for a team with playoff hopes.
If a deal was made, they could trot out a lineup that featured Stanton, Tulowitzki, Michael Morse, Marcelle Ozuna, Christian Yelich, and Dee Gordon. While their farm system isn't great, they have highly regarded pitching prospects Tyler Kolek and Justin Nicolino.
Their current shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria would become expendable, and could be included as an immediate replacement for Tulowitzki. If the Marlins are serious about contending now, this could be their ticket into the race. Stanton has an opt-out clause after the 2020 season, and if they don't start to win soon, he may use it.
A division foe could use Tulowitzki, but can another in division trade happen?
If both teams were open to an intra-division trade, the Dodgers and Rockies match up extraordinarily well. They have perhaps the deepest pockets of any team in the sport, and a farm system that rivals almost any. Corey Seager's primary position is SS, but he has played games at third, and could clearly move to make room for Tulowitzki.
While this is purely speculative, the Dodgers would be able to put together an incredible trade package. Their infield depth is staggering, and could offer Alexander Guerrero, Justin Turner and have pitching prospects Grant Holmes, Jose De Leon, and Julio Urias.
The prospects of a trade this massive seem unlikely given that the Dodgers and Rockies are both in the NL West, but that didn't prevent Los Angeles and San Diego from making a deal this past offseason. The trade wasn't insignificant either, as Matt Kemp, Yasmani Grandal, and $32 million was exchanged.
It's difficult not to imagine the possibilities of a Troy Tulowitzki megatrade, and if new GM Jeff Bridich wants to start remaking the team he inherited, this is the best way to start. His colleague A.J. Preller wasted no time in jettisoning players he didn't want, and on opening day, had seven new players in his opening day lineup. The Rockies could reap a king's ransom for Tulowitzki, and strengthen a farm system that BA already ranks 8th overall.
They have the third pick in this year's draft, and with prospects like David Dahl, Jon Gray, Kyle Freeland, and Eddie Butler, the Rockies have a strong foundation. They shouldn't limit their trade partners based off of divisional ties, but rather solely off of talent. Their 2007 season proved to be a fluke, and haven't been in the playoffs since 2009.
The Rockies have a chance to kickstart their rebuilding process, and need to take advantage of it now. Once Tulowitzki is traded, Bridich can re-evaluate his team's needs, and see what else needs to be done.