Will Tulo's contract outweigh his talents, make Jays regret trade?
My immediate reaction to the news, busted out by Ken Rosenthal, that Troy Tulowitzki is the Blue Jays' new shortstop: Whaaaaat?
Oh, it's not that Tulowitzki's not a really good player; a simple projection system says he's still the best shortstop in the majors. Y'know, if you believe in that sort of thing.
It's not that Jose Reyes is any great shakes, or has played well enough to justify his $22 million salary this season.
Rather, it's that 1) both players' contracts are problematic, and 2) considering the Blue Jays are first in the American League in scoring and 12th in the American League in ERA, it just didn't figure that they'd make a huge deal for a hitter. Or to put it another way,
And yet here, somehow, we are.
Without, by the way, knowing everything yet. As I write these words, just short of 1 in the morning Eastern Time, all I know is Tulowitzki's going to the Blue Jays and Reyes is going to the Rockies, but we've got nothing about the trade's other components, of which there must be some. So, this:
There's just not much "analysis" to be done without all the names and (possibly) the dollars changing hands. So instead I'll use this plum opportunity to revisit a subject that's been a pet of mine lately: the unpredictability of this crazy baseball business. Because here's what Tulowitzki was saying just four-and-a-half years ago, when he signed a seven-year contract extension that locked him up through 2020 and guaranteed him nearly $158 million ...
"I'm really lucky," Tulowitzki said. "I can't wait to be here my entire career."
Tulowitzki wanted to be like his idol, Cal Ripken Jr., who played in just one city, and not his mentor, St. Louis Cardinals slugger Matt Holliday, whose departure from Denver a couple years ago after spending 11 years in the Rockies organization deeply affected him.
"I didn't want that to happen to me," Tulowitzki said. "I wanted to stay here for my career and not deal with all the other stuff. I'm sure he's in a great place now and I know he's happy but at the same time, this is where I want to be."
Obviously, things change. At the time, management somehow convinced Tulowitzki that the Rockies were ready to start winning. Any minute now, really!
Instead the Rockies haven't come close to a winning season since. With nary a winning season on the horizon. So one might understand Tulowitzki's willingness to consider other opportunities. One might also bow once more before the Great Gods and Goddesses of Unpredictability, and admit yet again that we're really terrible at saying sooths.
Which actually makes me feel better about writing this before we've got word about the prospects the Rockies are getting from the Blue Jays. You know, since we're so lousy at knowing what they'll become in two years or three years or five. So instead what I'll say is just this: It's not apparent that Tulowitzki, as injury-plagued as Reyes, makes the Blue Jays significantly better in the short term, and in the long term they're likely to regret having that contract on the books, just as the Rockies presumably did.
That's just the nature of agreements that long outlive our ability to predict the future.