When healthy, Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is one of baseball’s most complete and exciting players. The problem is Tulowitzki is hardly healthy. When Tulo is on the diamond, he is one of the elite, five-tool players in the game and potentially one of the faces of baseball.
There is no question that the four-time All-Star is likely on his way out of Denver, as the last-place Rockies have win just two games in May to this point. The trade chatter surrounding Tulowitzki, 30, has been growing increasingly louder over the past season and a half and could soon come to fruition as the Rockies are falling closer and closer toward a complete rebuild.
Having only played in 140-plus games in a season just three times in his 10-year career, the returns for Tulowitzki’s services are diminishing rapidly — especially after his latest injury leg injury suffered over the weekend and his diminished numbers early in the 2015 season (33 games: .283/.290/.442 .732 OPS, 2 HR, 11 RBI).
The risk-reward factor with Tulo is fluid, but when he’s at his best, it’s hard to find a better player in the game today. Here are four teams that could serve as possible landing spots for the slugging shortstop.
New York Mets
To much surprise, the Mets are currently a game up over the heavily favored Washington Nationals in the NL East. But injuries to franchise player/third baseman David Wright and catcher Travis d’Arnaud have landed the Mets in the bottom third of almost every major offensive category. The Mets are absolutely going to need offense to keep pace with the Nats throughout the summer. Tulowitzki could be the best option for New York, but the current financial shackles on the Mets will limit the amount of Tulowitzki’s contract they are willing to pay.
The $109 million remaining on Tulo’s deal after 2015 will no doubt scare teams due to his injury history. With the Mets owing the oft-injured Wright $107 million over the next six seasons, it’s easy to see why they would be hesitant to sign another high priced 30-year old infielder with health issues and most-assuredly will have to give up at least one of their coveted pitching prospects the Rockies desperately need.
New York Yankees
Currently, the Yanks hold a one game advantage over the Tampa Bay Rays in the very mundane AL East. Tulo could be the piece that puts the Yankee offense over the top, especially with the short Yankee Stadium porch in left field. The Yankees have never been known to build their big league club through their farm system and could be quick to trade their top pitching prospects, Luis Severino and Ian Clarkin, for Tulo’s services.
Tulowitzki would make a great designated hitter, but with A-Rod currently hitting well and being 38 years old, he won’t be moving back to shortstop ever again — Tulo would have to play the field. But the question is where? Would he be willing to slide over to second base and allow for Didi Gregorious or Stephen Drew (assuming one of them isn't part of the trade for Tulo) to play shortstop?
It is unlikely that Yankee GM Brian Cashman will be willing to pay the remaining $109 million left on Tulo’s contract to play shortstop full-time on a roster full of players past their prime. The Rockies are going to have to eat part of that contract, no matter what. Cashman might be willing to take the risk and bring in Tulowitzki as the heir-apparent to the retired Derek Jeter.
Los Angeles Angels
After playing under .500 for the first month of the season, the Angels have found their stride, winning six of their last 10 games. Despite their recent success, LA has been struggling to keep pace offensively with the rest of the AL. With the improvement of Erick Aybar's offensive output (last 11 games: .405/.419/.476 .895 OPS) it is unlikely that GM Jerry Dipoto is going to make a move at shortstop. But with the trade of Josh Hamilton, the Angels need help at DH — Tulo could be the perfect fit.
The Angels, who have a history of giving massive contracts to players in their 30s (See: Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson and Hamilton), could be willing to bear Tulowitzki’s contract and use him primarily at DH, giving his body the much-needed rest from the stresses of playing shortstop every day.
The M’s are another underperforming AL West team that is desperately in need of offense. Free agent signee Nelson Cruz (.340/.395/.694 1.089 OPS, 15 HR, 30 RBI) has been fantastic, but no other Mariner is hitting above .265, including $100-plus million dollar infielders Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager.
One thing the Mariners do have is pitching, and plenty of it. The conundrum is complex for GM Jack Zduriencik. Does he hold on to his young pitching prospects, like Taijuan Walker, and hope that the rest of the bats catch up to Cruz, or does he make the move to bring in Tulowitzki, a two-time Sliver Slugger honoree, to give his stumbling club the kick-start it needs?
— Written by Jake Rose, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. An avid baseball fan, Rose also takes time to do some play-by-play work for the radio broadcasts of Middle Tennessee State Blue Raider baseball games. He can be reached on Twitter @JakeRose24.