Photo: Flickr/Dirk Hansen
The Rockies will announce a contract extension today for shortstop Troy Tulowitzki that takes effect in 2014 and pays him a reported $135 million through 2020. He has three years and $25.75 million remaining on his current contract.The deal is undoubtedly crazy. There was no rush to sign the player, and the Rockies didn’t do so at a bargain. They’re locking into committing $20 million – more than a quarter of their average payroll over the past three seasons – to Tulo’s age 30 through age 35 seasons.
And a lot of things could make this extension look terrible between now and 2014. Maybe the same things that rendered Todd Helton’s 9-year, $141.5M contract with the Rockies, signed in 2003, an albatross. Those who cannot remember the past are contemned to repeat it.
Few doubt that Tulowitzki is among the game’s best players. He hit .315 with 27 HRs and 95 RBIs, despite missing 40 games with a broken arm, all while playing Gold Glove defence at a premium position. But this deal offers little flexibility down the road, when the mid-market Rockies want to ink ace Ubaldo Jimenez and MVP candidate Carlos Gonzalez to extensions of their own.
Sure, this deal could prove terrific for the Rockies. Free agent spending could explode over the next five years – as it did in the late 1990s – and $20 million per season for a 30-year-old shortstop could prove a bargain. With this contract, the Rockies are betting that’s more likely than the possibility of an injury, a decline in Tulo’s production, a loss of revenue, or a sudden tinge of regret that they didn’t allocate those millions to Jimenez or Gonzalez.
Somewhere, Derek Jeter is smiling.
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