Rockies All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki created a stir over the weekend when he indicated to the Denver Post that he would be open to a trade, saying, “I want to be somewhere where there’s a chance to be in the playoffs every single year.”
Well, a deal probably will not happen before July 31, but no one should be surprised this offseason if Tulowitzki formally asks owner Dick Monfort to trade him.
Tulowitzki loves Colorado. He understands the value of spending his career with one team. But how much longer can he stand losing? As one of his friends put it, “I think the guy is going to lose his mind.”
Monfort, who is sensitive to public perception, has given no indication he is willing to trade either Tulowitzki or the Rockies’ other cornerstone, outfielder Carlos Gonzalez. But the best time to move either would be the offseason, when teams are more flexible with their rosters.
If anything, Monfort might be more willing to trade Gonzalez, who is neither homegrown nor as much the face of the franchise. A team such as the Mets could offer, say, Triple A right-hander Noah Syndergaard and Double A outfielder Brandon Nimmo for CarGo. The Mets, of course, have an even greater need for Tulowitzki, but, again, the Rockies are not there yet.
Tulowitzki, 29, is owed $118 million from 2015 to 2020, with a club option for ’21. Certainly, teams would be interested in acquiring one of the best players in the game. But finding a suitable partner might not be easy as one might think.
The Yankees, with Derek Jeter retiring, would be an obvious fit but probably do not have enough young talent to entice the Rockies. The Red Sox certainly have the prospects, but would they have the desire to add Tulowitzki with so many talented left-side infielders in their organization?
Several of the Mariners’ better youngsters – right-hander Taijuan Walker, left-hander James Paxton, shortstop Brad Miller – have lost value due to injuries and/or inconsistency. The Dodgers probably would love a crack at Tulo as a replacement for potential free agent Hanley Ramirez, but it’s difficult to forsee Monfort allowing such a trade within the division. Teams such as the Orioles and Reds might have a need — Baltimore’s J.J. Hardy is a potential free agent — but again the question would be whether either team could build a strong enough package.
The Cardinals and Rockies talked about Tulowitzki last offseason, but St. Louis wound up signing Jhonny Peralta to a four-year, $52 million free-agent contract. Perhaps the talks could revive if the Cardinals found a taker for Peralta. But it would be more complicated than before.
Cardinals fans accused me of various crimes last November when I proposed a trade of first baseman Allen Craig, right-hander Shelby Miller, closer Trevor Rosenthal and a prospect for Tulowitzki.
Like anyone else with an opinion on baseball, I’m wrong as often as I am right, if not more often. But on this particular topic, I will accept all apologies on Twitter.
WHY TULO MIGHT WANT OUT
The Rockies could appeal to Tulowitzki by blaming injuries for their current troubles — injuries to no fewer than five starting pitchers, injuries to Gonzalez, third baseman Nolan Arenado and right fielder Michael Cuddyer.
Still, the Rockies continue to be flummoxed by their historic problem — pitching. And rather than simply find new pitchers, they may need to address some of their issues internally.
Catcher Wilin Rosario is a poor game caller; the Rockies tried but failed to sign free agents Brian McCann and Carlos Ruiz last offseason, then could not execute their plan of moving Rosario to the outfield.
In addition, rival scouts say the Rockies’ pitchers are poorly prepared, with one cracking, “They pitch not to hitters’ weaknesses but hitters’ strengths.”
Pitching coach Jim Wright is not fully to blame, not with the Rockies using so many inexperienced pitchers and facing the usual challenges of run prevention in Colorado.
But where are the Rockies going?
They likely will need to make left-hander Jorge De La Rosa a qualifying offer at the end of the season with the idea of bringing back their one pitcher who has a history of success at Coors Field. The team also holds a $12 million option on oft-injured lefty Brett Anderson, but will it be willing to take that gamble?
Right-handed prospects Eddie Butler and Jonathan Gray could form the future top of the rotation, but Butler remains on the DL with right shoulder inflammation, joining righties Jhoulys Chacin (shoulder), Tyler Chatwood (elbow) and Jordan Lyles (fractured left hand).
Top free-agent pitchers are not eager to sign with Colorado, and the Rockies probably do not want to pay for them, anyway. It all adds up to the same old problem of trying to build a successful pitching staff at Coors.
The Rubik’s Cube of baseball remains unsolved.
THE DODGERS’ GROWING ROTATION NEED
The Dodgers kicked the tires on recently traded Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija, but the talks never got serious, according to major league sources.
For Samardzija, the Dodgers were not willing to sacrifice prospects such as outfielder Joc Pederson and infielder Corey Seager. The question is whether they would change their stance if they could get Rays lefty David Price.
The Dodgers continue to tell rival clubs they will not always carry a $240 million payroll and that their eventual goal is to mix in low-cost players such as Pederson, Seager and left-hander Julio Urias.
Still, they likely will need insurance for their rotation, at the very least.
Right-hander Josh Beckett is dealing with an ailing left hip. Righty Dan Haren last pitched more than 177 innings in 2011. The Dodgers cannot expect both to stay healthy for 30 starts.
Price may be overkill, but then again, maybe not – right-hander Zack Greinke can opt out of his deal after the 2015 season. The Dodgers also would have Price under control through ’15; they then could sign one or the other.
THE BIG DEAL COULD HAVE BEEN EVEN BIGGER
The Athletics did not simply target Samardzija and right-hander Jason Hammel in their discussions with the Cubs. The teams also talked about Cubs infielder Luis Valbuena, and the Athletics may pursue Valbuena again before the July 31 non-waiver deadline, sources say.
Valbuena, 28, could enter the Athletics’ mix at second base, and part of his appeal is that he is under club control through 2016. The Cubs, however, are reluctant to move him; Valbuena gives them two things they lack – left-handed hitting and on-base skills.
The Cubs’ two left-handed relievers, James Russell and Wesley Wright, are more likely to be traded; the team is drawing interest in both.
A POTENTIAL LANDING PLACE FOR PEAVY
As the Red Sox consider trades for right-hander Jake Peavy, the Cardinals make sense as a potential partner.
The Cardinals, as reported by FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi, are exploring the market for starting pitchers. The Red Sox need offense, and they could move Peavy to clear a spot for righty Rubby De La Rosa.
The teams spoke about a month ago but not specifically about Peavy. At the time, the Red Sox expressed interest in the Cardinals’ young outfielders, according to a source.
The Cardinals obviously would not trade six years of control over Randal Grichuk or Stephen Piscotty for a potential free agent such as Peavy. But perhaps the teams could expand the deal or swap other players. For example, as bad as Allen Craig has looked for the Cardinals, his right-handed bat might interest the Red Sox in a larger trade.
Peavy, 33, has a 4.64 ERA in 110 2/3 innings this season, but he has thrown 91 to 92 mph in his last two outings, producing quality starts against both the Cubs and one of the majors’ better offensive teams, the Orioles.
The Cardinals scouted Peavy before the 2013 non-waiver deadline. Peavy later said he was willing to adjust his contract to facilitate a trade to the Cardinals or any other team that made such a request. But in the end, the Cardinals did not make the White Sox an offer, and the Red Sox landed him instead.
RED SOX AS SELLERS . . . MEH
Peavy is expendable to the Red Sox whether they buy or sell. But as the Sox ponder their options, how far would they even go as a seller?
One rival executive says the Sox should exploit their current crisis and explore a variety of deals. The team, however, will not necessarily want to trade potential free agents whom it wishes to re-sign – left-hander Jon Lester, closer Koji Uehara, left-handed reliever Andrew Miller. Others, such as catcher A.J. Pierzynski and shortstop Stephen Drew, would have limited value.
So, who are we talking about? Outfielder Jonny Gomes? Right-handed reliever Burke Badenhop? For what the Sox would receive in return, the trades might not prove worthwhile.
The guess here is Boston will attempt to be creative if it remains out of contention in late July. What it accomplishes remains to be seen.