Imagine what would happen if the Colorado Rockies were to put Troy Tulowitzki up for sale. The chance to trade for the best shortstop and one of the very best players in all of Major League Baseball would turn 29 teams into a frenzied pack of teenage girls at a One Direction concert. Or something to that effect.
Other general managers might briefly consider offering their first-born as part of a deal for a chance to obtain a player who is still very much in his prime, plays a premium up-the-middle position and is among the most dangerous hitters in the game.
But which clubs actually could make a play for Tulowitzki based on their assets in the minor leagues?
Around Independence Day, the 29-year-old All-Star told Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post that he's open to the possibility of moving on from Colorado:
In Todd Helton, there's someone who's easy to look at his career here and how it played out. I have the utmost respect for Todd, but at the same time, I don't want to be the next in line as somebody who was here for a long time and didn't have a chance to win every single year. He played in a couple postseason games and went to one World Series. But that's not me. I want to be somewhere where there's a chance to be in the playoffs every single year.
What people need to understand about me is: Winning's my main priority. I've been around the game a little bit now, and I understand those years where we did win, how much more fun I had. And then there are years such as this.
By "this," Tulowitzki means yet another lost year in Denver. Just like in 2013, the Rockies got off to a hot start in April (16-12) only to fizzle out in May (12-14) and flatline in June (8-20) to the point where the season was over by the start of the second half.
With July off to a 4-12 start, Colorado sports the worst record in the National League at 40-59 entering play Tuesday.
As Dayn Perry of CBS Sports wrote earlier in July: "While it's hard to imagine his playing in another uniform, Tulowitzki easily becomes the star of the deadline—even a deadline that includes David Price—if the Rockies decide it's time to tear it down."
That "if" is the operative word. Because it seems like the Rockies ownership would prefer not to part with Tulowitzki, according to Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post.
Just because there have been rumors and speculation—not to mention more or less a blessing from the player himself—Tulowitzki isn't necessarily being traded between now and the deadline at month's end. But he could be at some point in the near future like the offseason, which is something he mentioned to Thomas Harding of MLB.com:
It's about wherever I get the best chance to win. Hopefully that is in Colorado, but if they feel like they have to go in a different direction and get young and that's where the organization is headed, then they will have to sit me down to talk about that. I would talk with them in the offseason.
Fact is, while trading Tulo might seem sacrilegious in Colorado, he is driving up his value in the middle of his best season yet, but he's also going on 30 years old (in October), remains an injury risk and has a ton of money left on his contract. In other words, his stock could plummet soon enough based on age and/or ailment.
So again: Which teams might be able to pick up the phone and entice the Rockies decision-makers with a legitimate offer built around prospects and/or young big leaguers?
Well, for starters, any such team would have to be a contender (or at least, capable of contending in short order) who not only possesses the prospects but also has a need at shortstop and possibly even the funds to absorb the $118 million owed to Tulo through at least the 2020 season (after which his deal calls for a $15 million option or $4 million buyout for 2021).
For example, the New York Yankees, who will have a gaping hole at the position after Derek Jeter retires at season's end, wouldn't easily fit this endeavor because they lack the farm system to put a worthwhile package together.
Meanwhile, the small-market Pittsburgh Pirates are out of the picture considering they couldn't take on such a massive contract even if they undoubtedly could use an upgrade at shortstop, a position that has been a black hole for years.
And the Chicago Cubs, of course, have as much talent in the minors as any organization, but much of it already is in the infield (think: Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Addison Russell)—not to mention the organization remains in full-on rebuild mode.
While those teams might not be logical suitors for Tulowitzki, these six could be—and they just might have the goods to get him, too.