The Colorado Rockies are willing to listen on possible trades involving Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez.
According to John Harper of the New York Daily News, one executive close to the Rockies said the team will seriously consider offers for the pair in an effort to rebuild.
However, the Rockies would be looking for a package built around young position players, as opposed to pitching, making it unlikely the Mets would be a good match.
A source says the Rockies consider it too risky trading for young pitching, given the difficulties they’ve had developing pitching in the high-altitude, hitter-friendly conditions in Colorado.
If such a move were to happen, it could seriously shake up divisional and league races. But who would be able to provide a package that would suit Colorado's needs?
Harper's story goes on to say that outside of catcher Travis d'Arnaud, the Rockies have no real interest in any position prospects from the Mets. He did add that with a surplus of arms in the minor leagues, the Mets could get a third team involved if they wanted Tulowitzki and Gonzalez.
Three-team trades are a little complicated when it comes to projections, so for now I'll stick with deals that would involve the Rockies and one other team. Keep in mind that Gonzalez is still owed $63.5 million over the next four years, while Tulowitzki is owed $130 million over the next seven years, with a $15 million option in the eighth year.
Here's one thing to consider as well when it comes to Tulowitzki:
troy tulowitzki has played over 150 games in a season just twice.— Jay (@TeamThirstTrap) September 17, 2013
To be fair, Gonzalez missed time due to injury in 2011 and 2013. So, both have injury issues.
With that in mind, which teams could be potential suitors for the Rockies?
New York Yankees
The Yankees are the first team that popped into my head for a variety of reasons.
The first (and perhaps biggest) reason is the fact that Derek Jeter is nearing retirement and has shown he can't stay on the field this year. That would be a perfect time for him to hand over the reins at shortstop to Tulowitzki. The one knock on this, however, is that Tulowitzki has had his own history of injuries.
So, that might be something that scares the Yankees away.
Or, what about moving Jeter to second base if Robinson Cano decides to sign with another team this offseason? Let Jeter have his curtain call—an $8 million player option—in 2014 and then look for a second baseman after the season.
Gonzalez would be a good fit as well, although Alfonso Soriano, Vernon Wells and Ichiro Suzuki are still under contract for one more year. If the Yankees can't figure out something to do with at least two of them, then they would have a high-priced bench player.
Brett Gardner isn't going anywhere after showing promise this year with a stat line of .273/.344/.416. He also had eight home runs, 52 RBI and 24 stolen bases. Plus, he has one more arbitration year and is still relatively cheap.
Secondly, the Yankees have a decent crop of prospects that could catch the Rockies interest. Mason Williams and Tyler Austin could fill two outfield spots in Colorado for many years to come. Add in the fact that the Yankees also have a second catching prospect in JR Murphy, which could allow them to part with Gary Sanchez.
Those three players together along with a few young pitchers could be just what it takes to get the Rockies interested. I'm not saying all three players would have to be involved, but you would have to think at least two of them would.
The last thing that makes this a good fit is the fact that the Yankees could indeed take on the contracts of Tulowitzki and Gonzalez. While they are trying to cut down their payroll, Yahoo! Sports Jeff Passan reports that's unlikely to happen.
In recent months, the Yankees have become far less bullish on their publicly stated austerity plan, admitting to other executives and agents that staying beneath the $189 million threshold is unlikely and impractical.
"They're going to be over 189," one source familiar with the Yankees' plans said. "They know it. Everyone knows it. You can't run a $3 billion team with the intentions of saving a few million dollars."
Knowing that, there should be no reason why the Yankees don't go after the pair. If money is no object, then trading away your best prospect would be reverting to the Yankees of old when they had one of the weaker farm systems.
The Chicago Cubs are another team that could pull this off for some of the same reasons mentioned with the Yankees.
The biggest plus on the side of the Cubs is their farm system. The Cubs could center a package around shortstop Javier Baez and outfielders Albert Almora or Jorge Soler. Like the Yankees, the Cubs could sprinkle in a couple of lower-level pitching prospects.
For the Rockies to even consider this trade, Baez would have to be on the table. If he's not, the Rockies may not be inclined to make a move.
Some might say the Cubs already have Starlin Castro at shortstop, but is he really the long-term answer there? He's had multiple gaffes in the field and at the plate that have caused benchings in the past.
The Cubs could move Castro to second base and finally give up on Darwin Barney, who is batting an unimpressive .211 with seven home runs and 41 RBI in 132 games. That way there's a spot for Tulowitzki and Castro, and you have two good bats in the lineup.
Money is something else the Cubs will have no problem handling as owner Tom Ricketts has had no problem opening up his checkbook before with guys like Soriano. So, what would be the harm in doing it with Gonzalez and Tulowitzki?
Plus, those two would give the Cubs a lot of power to pair with Anthony Rizzo.
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals would be the biggest long-shots of the three teams mainly because they're not big spenders like the Cubs and Yankees usually are.
However, when you look at the prospects in their system, they definitely have the players the Rockies would be interested in.
The first, and probably the toughest sell, would be Oscar Taveras. He has a ton of bat speed and speed on the base paths, and has hit at every level. The Cardinals may not be inclined to trade him, which if they aren't, would kill any deal with the Rockies.
St. Louis also has second baseman Kolten Wong and outfielder Stephen Piscotty if Taveras is on the table. All three players could contribute in 2014 and wouldn't cost nearly as much as Tulowitzki and Gonzalez. Those three players together would be enough to sway the Rockies to trade their big two.
Tulowitzki would be a huge upgrade over Pete Kozma at shortstop. And Carlos Beltran is a free agent after this season, so that would open up a spot for Gonzalez.
The pieces to this trade puzzle are there, but it's all going to hinge on if St. Louis will move Taveras. Colorado is going to want a big piece in return, and while Wong and Piscotty would be nice, nothing would get them to the table quite like Taveras.
Which team has the best package to offer the Rockies for Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez?
If I were to pick one team to pull off the trade for both players, I would say the Cubs.
Team president Theo Epstein has never been shy about making big moves in the past, and I see no reason why he wouldn't do the same if the opportunity became available.
There are obvious issues concerning Castro's play at shortstop and Barney's offensive skills—or lack thereof. Moving Castro to second and moving on without Barney would be in the best interest of the club.
Add in the fact that you would still have Mike Olt to man third base until Kris Bryant is ready, and you have a very powerful infield.
In the outfield you would lose Almora and/or Soler in the future, but adding a proven veteran like Gonzalez would make the loss worth it.
If the Cubs could do that and then go after a James Shields or Ervin Santana in free agency, they would become immediate contenders in 2014. Money is no object for Ricketts.
For a city that has been clamoring for its first World Series since 1908, it's a move that has to be made. Management has to take a chance. If they don't, they're still at least a few years away from competing for a division title, much less a world title.