The Blue Jays have officially acquired shortstop Troy Tulowitzki from the Rockies, according to a report from Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. In the deal, the Rockies receive shortstop Jose Reyes and right-handers Jeff Hoffman, Miguel Castro, and Jesus Tinoco from the Jays in exchange for Tulowitzki and reliever LaTroy Hawkins.
Despite rumors that a third team may be involved, the trade is a straight-up, two-team deal, according to sources. No money is changing hands in the deal, meaning the Jays will be on the hook for more than $105 million that remains on Tulowitzki's contract through 2020.
Tulowitzki has been the subject of trade rumors for many years, with the Mets and Yankees most notably linked to him despite the Rockies' unwillingness to deal him due to his status as a franchise figure. The Blue Jays, who currently sit seven games behind the Yankees in the AL East race, were never seen as a likely fit due to Reyes' supposed status as their long-term shortstop. According to an industry source, the possibility of acquiring Tulowitzki has existed for the Jays since last offseason, with "unhappiness" in Reyes' defense playing a major role in facilitating a change.
Rockies' brass has been unwilling to trade Tulowitzki and has viewed him as the face of their franchise for years, with owner Dick Monfort pledging on multiple occasions that he would keep the star shortstop in Denver for the long-term. Monfort has also stated that he would consult Tulowitzki on any deals, though it appears that this one was done without his direct permission.
Tulowitzki, 30, has hit .305/.353/.478 with twelve home runs so far this year for Colorado, reaching his fifth All-Star team in his tenth major-league season. The superstar shortstop is under team control through the 2021 season, and will cost the Jays over $100 million. While some are concerned about how Tulowitzki's injury-prone reputation may play on the turf in Toronto, the ability to put him next to Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, and Russell Martin in a stacked Jays' lineup must have been extremely enticing for the Jays' braintrust.
Hawkins, 42, is in his final major-league season and will provide a veteran arm in a Jays' bullpen that has struggled all season. The 21-year major-league veteran has posted a 3.63 ERA in 24 appearances with the Rockies this season. Toronto has been looking for bullpen help on the trade market, so Hawkins is not likely to be their final addition on that front.
Reyes, 32, is a likely candidate to be flipped by the Rockies, who have a top shortstop prospect, Trevor Story, in the pipeline and are expected to keep selling at this year's deadline. The four-time All-Star has hit .285/.322/.385 with four homers so far this season for Toronto, and will now head to his fourth major-league franchise in five seasons. The Mets, Reyes' original organization, make sense as a potential fit for a trade.
Hoffman, 22, was the ninth-overall pick by the Jays in last year's draft and was ranked by MLB.com as the team's third-best prospect at the time of the trade. He underwent Tommy John surgery in May 2014, and is known as a highly-touted prospect due to his plus-fastball and big curveball. The East Carolina product is 3-3 with a 2.93 ERA in thirteen starts this year split between High-A Dunedin and Double-A New Hampshire. Rockies' scouts have been enamored with Hoffman all year, according to major-league sources.
Castro, 20, is currently ranked as the Jays' fifth-best prospect by MLB.com. He is known for his impressive velocity (his fastball reaches 99 mph) and great fastball command, and projects as a major-league starter despite his short stint at the back of the Jays' bullpen earlier this season. He registered a 4.38 ERA in thirteen major-league games this season, and has posted a 3.42 ERA in fifteen minor-league appearances (five starts).
Tinoco, 20, is ranked by MLB.com as Toronto's 29th best prospect. The Venezuelan-born right-hander is a high ceiling arm with a ton of sink on his fastball and an above-average slider, and has posted a 3.54 ERA while striking out 68 in fifteen starts for Single-A Lansing so far this season.
With the full trade announced, it is easy to see each team's motivation behind this blockbuster. Toronto's explosive offense now has the potential to be historic, and a couple of pitching additions could make the Jays a legitimate World Series contender for years to come. The Jays decided to finally behave like a big-market club, and will take on a $50+ million tab on a long-term deal. Colorado finally cut ties with one of the most decorated players in franchise history, ending an era that may come to a complete close later in the week if the red-hot Carlos Gonzalez is traded somewhere. Playing in Coors Field limits the impact that the Rockies can have on the free-agent pitching market this winter, so general manager Jeff Bridich was smart to add three high-upside arms in Hoffman, Castro and Tinoco.