It’s been kind of a slow week in the NL West. The top four teams in the division are all hovering around a .500 week. Then you have the Rockies, losers of 11 straight games before Thursday night’s dramatic 9th Inning, 3-Run shot by Carlos Gonzalez. The most interesting event of the week was a supposed meeting between franchise shortstop,Troy Tulowitzki, and his agent. Rockies GM, Jeff Bridich, calls the entire situation a “media production,” but while the media clearly is fanning the flame, the fire originated in the Tulo camp. The motive is due to years of losing with no end in sight after Colorado was openly shopping him this past off-season. So what is the likelihood of a deal getting done for Tulo between now and the July 31st, trade deadline? I’m so glad you ask. Let us look at the possible trade scenarios and their fantasy impact if the actually happened.
What We Know…
1. The Rockies have some Leverage, FOR NOW…
The reason why the Rockies didn’t trade Tulo last off-season is because they are holding out for a package that they deem proper value. The problem is that with his age of 30 and injury history, they seem to value their player more the other 29 GMs in the league. Let’s take a quick look at his contract (courtesy of Spotrac)
Currently, he DOES NOT have a No-Trade Clause in his contract. However, he gains 10-5 status next season (10 years service time with the last 5 with the same team). This gives him the right to veto trades and gives him leverage to force a trade to a team of his choosing. For now, the Rockies do hold the leverage. Although $20M per year is an expensive player, there are several big-market teams that can absorb that deal. The contract will still end when he is 35 years old and not 40 like many of the other long-term deals out there (Arod, Cano, Pujols, etc). He is a top 10 player in the game when healthy and plays a premium position. The Rockies are holding out for a package that gets the team three or more high tier prospects AND assume no responsibility to his contract. That is a little unrealistic for what little leverage they have left. They probably need to choose one or the other. The better the prospects, the more money they will have to eat. Teams are not going to give up top tier prospects regardless, but just to get a package of 2nd Tier prospects, they will have to chip in some money. If they hold out until after Tulo gets his 10-5 status, their leverage drops dramatically.
2. Tulo wants out but DOESN’T want to be seen as the “Bad Guy”
He isn’t the type of guy to make waves and seems very concerned about his public image. While publicly he will maintain committed to the Rockies and their fans, it’s no secret he is interested in playing for a perennial contending team in a big market. He wants to leave but won’t initiate. The leak by his agent this week seems like a passive-aggressive way of moving things along without having to make an official request. He is clearly distracted this year as his production is below what we have come to expect; even in injury-plagued seasons. His contact rate is down and OPS is at its lowest in 7 years. He doesn’t need the thin air to be productive and a change of scenery would probably benefit him greatly. The main issues here is that the Rockies ownership is very conscious of public opinion and doesn’t want to upset the fan base by trading the face of their franchise for what has been almost a decade now. They are always attempting to reload and avoid rebuilding. This strategy has failed pretty miserably as they only reached the post season in 2007 and 2009. Someone needs to step up and make a deal happen. The longer they wait, the less they will get in return. Tulo is bound to be hurt again any day now. Wait what’s that? He just left Friday’s game with a strained quad. Everyone is suffering right now ESPECIALLY the fantasy owner. Have they no respect for us fantasy owners?
3. The Rockies need to Rebuild, FINALLY…
Why do I know things are not going to get better this? Their pitching straight-up sucks. Rockies starting pitchers rank dead last out of 30 MLB teams in team ERA and BB/9. Well, they can just out slug teams, right? OPS (8th) and Batting AVG (5th) is pretty but OBP (23), SB (28th) and Runs Scored (27th) is not enough to get it done. This season is all but over and there really isn’t a lot of hope in the future due to limited arms on the farm and no significant free agent pitcher wants to sign up to pitch a mile high. The organization is still waiting for its first 20-game winner in franchise history. There is a nice core of hitting prospects in the organization to integrate into the lineup over the next few years. But, until they stabilize their pitching staff, the Rockies will not be able to compete in the NL West. Here is their current rotation…
- Jorge De la Rosa (34)
- Kyle Kendricks (30)
- Jordan Lyles (24)
- Chad Betts (26)
- Eddie Butler (24)
Butler is the only pitcher considered to be a Top 100 prospect; they have two others in the Farm System. Jon Gray could be promoted from AAA once he gets some consistency and 2014 1st Round draft pick, Kyle Freeland, is likely three years away from reaching the Majors. The Rockies need to get at least two big arms in any package for Tulo or it isn’t worth moving him. Fortunately, there are plenty of teams out there with young pitching to offer. Colorado just needs to be realistic about what they can get in return. Otherwise, they will be stuck with a internally disgruntled franchise star who will continue to struggle with the knowledge he will be playing for a losing organization for the next five years.
Least Likely Scenarios…
1. Los Angeles Angels – This is admittedly a very unlikely option. Tulo would love to play in LA, so there would be no issues on his end. The question mark is whether the Angels could come up with the right match. Colorado would likely only do this deal if the Angles included top prospect Andrew Heaney, who could immediately slot into the Rockies rotation, AND their 2nd best prospect, 2014 1st Round draft pick Sean Newcomb. I don’t see the Angels agreeing to this trade and will likely counter with one of those guys, a few lower tier guys in addition to taking on the majority of the Tulo’s contract since they just cleared that huge Josh Hamilton contract from their books. Oh that’s right, they are still paying the majority of Hamilton’s contract, so they will likely need Colorado to eat a significant portion of the Tulo’s deal. That’s not going to happen without two high end arms. I just don’t see a match here unless Colorado is high on lower tier arms. I would guess there is less than a 10% chance a deal happens here, but if there was, it would probably look something like this…
LA Angels get Tulo and approx $30M toward his contract
Rockies get SP Andrew Heaney, RP Cam Bedrosian and SP Nick Tropeano.
Why this could happen…
If the Angels feel they can make a run a the World Series this year, they may pull the trigger on this deal as they keep their prize top draft pick, Newcomb. They have enough quality arms in the Majors already to make this run. The Rockies would do this if they like these arms enough as they would all be ready to contribute as early as this season and the deal immediately injects some talented youth into their pitching staff.
Tulo’s value stays about the same, but the change of scenery could help him snap out of his slow start and get him on one of those hot streaks we are accustomed to seeing from him. Heaney immediately becomes relevant for streamers and deeper leagues, but will lose long term value in dynasty leagues pitching in Colorado.
2. St. Louis Cardinals – Tulo would love to play in St. Louis.The Cardinals contend for a division title every season and the Rockies would love to get a few of the Cardinals
pitching prospects. They already are the favorite in the division and are looking like the National League representative to the World Series. I see this as an unlikely match because I doubt St. Louis will be willing to give up the package needed to land Tulo when Jhonny Peralta has done an adequate job holding down the fort at SS. They are more likely to go after a rotation upgrade down the stretch due to the Wainwright injury and they aren’t likely to want to include Carlos Martinez in the deal who the Rockies are likely to insist. I give a deal between these teams less than a 10% chance. But, if they can agree on something, it may look like this…
St. Louis get Tulo and $40M toward his contract
Rockies get SP Alex Reyes, SP Marco Gonzales and SS Johnny Peralta
Why this deal could happen…
If St. Louis loses a significant bat in the near future, they might be more inclined to make this move if they feel Tulo is healthy enough to help them make a run this season. They would get to keep Carlos Martinez, who they need for their rotation now. They would likely require Colorado to take back Peralta since they wouldn’t have a place to play him AND require a decent chunk of money to cover Tulo’s deal. If Colorado is “high” enough on Reyes and Gonzalez, they may go for this. Gonzales could make the Rockies rotation as early as this year and Reyes in the next 2-3 years. These are good enough arms to get a deal done in my opinion, but I’m not convinced this gains enough traction.
Tulo would love to hit behind his old buddy Matt Holliday, and we should see him return to form in this lineup. Peralta should see a slight uptick in his production hitting in Colorado and he will still have a decent lineup around him. Gonzales immediately becomes on-the-radar in standard leagues and a must add in deeper roster formats. Temper initial expectations to see if he can keep the ball in the park before investing too much.
3. Toronto Blue Jays – This would be a fun one, but the least likely of the bunch. This probably won’t happen because the new Blue Jays strategy is to build up arms to compete in the AL East. Their rotation has been brutal this year but they have seen a glimpse of a scary future rotation…
- Marcus Stroman
- Aaron Sanchez
- Daniel Norris
- Drew Hutchinson
If the Rockies could get two of these arms, I think the deal gets done. Toronto used to trade their entire farm system for big names, but I don’t see that happening anymore. The Jays are not trading Hoffman. If teams knew he would look this good after Tommy John, he might have gone #1 overall in the draft last year. Stroman is currently recovering for surgery and isn’t a trade option. If they did work something out, this might be what it looks like…
Jays get Tulo and his entire contract
Rockies get SS Jose Reyes, SP Drew Hutchinson, and SP/RP Miguel Castro and SP Sean Reid Foley
Why this deal could happen…
The veteran pitchers of the Blue Jays are not getting it done, but Toronto could trust that they will be good enough to keep the team in the game for there offense to hit them into the postseason. This would be a move for a run this year
and for the future. They would require taking Reyes back to offset the salary for the next few seasons. This might interest Colorado as they will try to sell the fans that they are not giving up by getting such a great player back. Dealing Tulo is not a salary dump, it’s a chance to gain young pitching talent. Of course getting the oft-injured Reyes back would eliminate the top arms in the deal, but Hutchinson could help stabilize the rotation immediately. Also, they would have time to develop Castro into a starter. Reid Foley could be another steal in the draft but is several years away from the Majors. He would immediately be a top 5 pitching prospect in the Rockies system. Why would the Jays do this trade? They keep their top young arms and still have a menacing future rotation and imagine the top of this lineup…
As great as this would be for the Jays fans and Fantasy Owners, I don’t see more than a 5% chance of this trade happening.
Tulo would thrive hitting between Bautista and Encarnacion. He would immediately become a top 5 fantasy player. Hutchinson’s value remains the same as he hasn’t been lighting it up in Toronto, but the stuff is there, and he might have some nice games against some lighter hitting NL squads.
More Likely Scenarios…
1. New York Mets – This is the best possible fit, but the Mets will be reluctant to take on such a large contract. The Mets have a glaring need at SS and Tulo is the missing piece for a deep run into October. If the Rockies are willing to eat a large chunk of Tulo’s contract, they have a chance to get two impact arms that will be ready as soon as this season. Here is the most likely scenario…
Mets get Tulo and $60M towards his contract
Rockies get SP Steven Matz, SP Rafael Montero, OF Brandon Nimmo.
Why this could happen…
Although the Mets LOVE Matz, getting a franchise SS at half the price (due to Rockies paying half the contract), helps them for a run at the World Series this year
and provides another veteran leader to partner with David Wright . They keep Syndergaard, Wheeler, Harvey and their core stud arms intact for a long run. Rockies get would greatly improve their rotation for the start of 2016 and would have a replacement for Cargo and give them the ability to trade him for more young assets. I give a deal between these teams about a 15% chance.
Tulo gets a slight uptick because he would be thrilled to be playing in New York. However, the supporting cast in the lineup doesn’t offer much protection and he will be playing in a pitcher’s park. I don’t take lightly the effect on “wanting to be there.” None of the players going back will make an impact this year for the Rockies, but all have high dynasty and deep keeper value.
2. Washington Nationals – This is the most likely trade that happens in my opinion. The Nats have tons of pitching already in their rotation and Ian Desmond is on an expiring deal. The Nats’ rotation will work itself out. There is too much talent there. Soon they will begin to dominate and will likely win the NL East handily. They would love to stick to the Mets by grabbing Tulo and becoming the favorite to make it to the World Series out of the National League. They are not sending top arm Lucas Giolito, but they have a few guys that should get a deal done.
Nats get Tulo
Rockies get SS Ian Desmond, SP Reynaldo Lopez, SP AJ Cole
Why this deal could get done..
The Rockies get two stud arms that will bolster their rotation dramatically in the next year or two and get an immediate replacement for Tulo. Desmond is a good
candidate for them to try and resign and his tools should play well in Colorado. This should be a no brainer for the Nats. Lopez is going to be sick, but they protect Giolito and 2014 1st Round pick, Erick Fedde. They can slot Tulo in the three hole in front of Bryce Harper and keep the rotation in tact. This team becomes a monster this year and beyond, even if they let Strasburg walk after the season. They are clearly not afraid to take on payroll, so taking on Tulo’s contract shouldn’t be a stumbling block for them. 20% chance this deal gets done.
Tulo becomes an elite fantasy performer this season and Desmond ticks up in the new mile high digs. Cole and Lopez should be on all dynasty rosters and warrant a look on deep keeper leagues. Cole may see some time in the Majors this year, but likely doesn’t offer much fantasy impact in 2015.
3. New York Yankees – The Yankees are always going to be in the discussion when it comes to high profile player movement and the Yankees are possibly the top team on Tulo’s wish list. In the past, this deal is nearly a lock, but Yankees GM, Brian
Cashman, has been steadfast in not moving young talent, but instead has been stockpiling it. The Yankees definitely have enough to get a deal done, but I don’t think Cashman will pull the trigger. He has worked to hard to rebuild the farm system to move it for another injury prone superstar in his 30s with a huge contract. The Yankees won’t part with their best prospects, SP Luis Severino and OF Aaron Judge. This deal only happens if Colorado take 2nd tier prospects and eats money on Tulo’s contract. Possible deal could look like…
Yankees get Tulo and $30M toward contract
Rockies get 1B Greg Bird, RP Jacob Lindgren, SP Ian Clarkin, SS Jorge Mateo
Why this could get done…
The Yankees still have a big hole at SS and Tulo could be the only player to remotely come close to filling Jeter’s shoes. They are not concerned about his ability to play in the Big Apple and it would give the team a much needed source of offense in the heart of the order. The Rockies could realize that quantity could pay off in the long run. The need a 1B and Bird could be ready to hit 25-30 HRs in Colorado as soon as 2016. Mateo would be the long range successor at SS but is not quite 20 years old yet and is several years away. Lindgren could come in this year and be their closer, his stuff is that nasty. Clarkin has a ceiling of a #2 or #3 starter. Ultimately, the Rockies are not going to do this deal without a bigger impact starting pitcher and the Yank are not going to trade Severino. That will probably be the impasse, and the Yankees will turn their attention to acquiring another starter as that is a greater need for them to make it to the postseason this year. The odds of this trade happening is 15%.
Tulo will be on Cloud 9 and should get out of his funk. The Yankees philosophy of plate discipline will rub off on him and his contact rate should improve. His RBIs should sky rocket with Ellsbury and Gardner on base in front of him and Tex and McCann offering reasonable protection. This trade allows Arod to move down the order to 6 or 7. His average could improve as he will have less pressure to drive in runs. Lindgren could have an impact in 2015 with the Rockies bullpen woes. He could be up this summer and take over as Closer by the end of the season.
4. Absolutely Nothing – After all this…Rockies could be stubborn and all the above teams could be scared off by Tulo’s health record. There’s a 25% no deal gets done before the July 31st trade deadline.
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