The Colorado Rockies will be looking for a new face of the franchise. After nine-plus years with the team, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays early Tuesday morning. The Blue Jays announced the deal later in the day, confirming they would be receiving Tulowitzki and closer LaTroy Hawkins, and sending shortstop Jose Reyes, and minor league pitchers Jeff Hoffman, Miguel Castro, and Jesus Tinoco to Colorado.
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal first reported the news of the deal.
Sending Reyes to the Rockies makes sense, since it allows Tulowitzki free rein at shortstop. Although, a middle infield with those two playing together would've been electric.
Reyes took to Twitter to bid farewell to fans in Toronto:
"I felt like I got blindsided a bit. I thought I was in the loop, in the conversation," Tulowitzki said, via Nick Groke and Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post. "So it definitely caught me by surprise."
Reyes might not be in Denver very long. Heyman hypothesized the Rockies could look to flip him before the deadline:
When asked about adding another pitcher Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said, " I can't make any promises... I hope so, but can't forecast the next few days," via Arash Madani of Sportsnet.
Anthopoulos also said once Jeff Hoffman was inserted into the deal, "it moved it along," according to USA Today. Shi Davidi of Sportsnet said the GM wasn't interested in trading top prosepects for rentals.
The 32-year-old is hitting .285 with a .322 on-base percentage and 16 stolen bases. Some team would likely trade one or two future assets for Reyes, even though doing so would come with a heavy financial commitment.
However, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported the Rockies do not have a deal lined up to flip Reyes.
The trade caused quite a stir in the Rockies locker room; in fact, Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan reported players were dismayed by the way the shortstop was dealt:
The stunned silence of players early Tuesday morning, when word of the trade came down, spoke to the disappointment of losing Tulowitzki. As the Rockies stashed him in Weiss’ office to keep him from addressing a deal that early Tuesday remained unconfirmed by either team, the truth of Tulowitzki’s exit filtered into the clubhouse and left the players even more gobsmacked, according to sources.
Regarding contracts, Thomas Harding of MLB.com noted Tulowitzki is owed $108 million through the 2020 season, while Reyes is owed $44 million over the next two years. Rosenthal added Tulowitzki would receive a $2 million assignment bonus for getting traded, and his contract converts to include a full no-trade clause.
Rotoworld's Matthew Pouliot joked the rich are getting richer with the addition of a hitter like Tulowitzki:
Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wondered if Toronto is ignoring a key area that needs to be addressed:
In a way, it's a bit ironic Tulowitzki will be headed north of the border. Blue Jays fans have never forgotten the fact the team opted for Ricky Romero instead of the All-Star shortstop in the 2005 MLB draft. A decade later, he'll be suiting up for the Jays.
This is a surprising change of heart for the Rockies, though not an entirely unexpected one. According to Rosenthal, the front office started to consider trades for Tulowitzki and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez in early November:
The Rockies, under new general manager Jeff Bridich, are not shopping either player or starting a fire sale, sources say. But team officials finally seem to have persuaded owner Dick Monfort to consider all possibilities.
A year ago at this time, Monfort said of Tulowitzki and Gonzalez, "The plan is to keep them. Next year, yes. And my plan is to always keep them."
Tulowitzki and Gonzalez are incredible talents with two major flaws. Neither one has been able to stay healthy for most of his career. Tulo, in particular, has only played in more than 100 games once in the last three years and hasn't appeared in 150 since 2009.
While his salary doesn't look like as much of an albatross as it once did with the way baseball contracts have exploded over the years, it's still not cheap. It's even more expensive if you have to bookmark at least 30 games per season in which he won't play.
At his best, Tulowitzki has been an MVP-caliber player. A shortstop who can lead the league in average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage with elite defense is the best player in baseball. And despite the nagging injuries, he's never had a problem putting up numbers when healthy.
In fact, Tulowitzki's worst statistical season as a full-time player was in 2008 (.263/.332/.401). That's basically what Jhonny Peralta hit in 2014 (.263/.336/.443), when he led all MLB shortstops with 5.3 wins above replacement, per FanGraphs.
Tulo is a rare, dynamic, game-changing talent who has done things no other shortstop is capable of. There's significant risk for his new team, but the upside is off the charts.