The Toronto Blue Jays just made a big move for perhaps the biggest luxury in baseball.
Late Monday night, the Blue Jays and Colorado Rockies agreed on a trade that would send Rockies’ star shortstop Tory Tulowitzki to the Blue Jays in exchange for Jose Reyes. The deal also sends relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins to the Blue Jays while the Rockies get three right-handed pitching prospects in Jeff Hoffman, Miguel Castro, and Jesus Tinoco.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports was the first to report the deal.
The move shocked the baseball world as the Blue Jays, believed to be targeting pitchers to help a weak rotation, added one of baseball’s best hitters to the best offence in MLB. As Hardball Talk’s Matthew Puoliot said, “To say this one came out of nowhere would be an understatement.”
Yahoo’s Jeff Passan reports that Tulowitzki and Rockies owner Dick Monfort had an agreement that Tulowitzki had to approve any prospective trade before it went down. Instead, Tulowitzki reportedly found out he’d been traded when Rockies “teary-eyed” manager Walt Weiss had to pull out Tulowitzki in the ninth inning of a game. The Rockies’ clubhouse was described by Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders as “shocked” and “somber.”
The move is both shocking and puzzling as the Blue Jays are acquiring Tulowitzki and his $US100 million salary through 2020 to double down on their potent offence. The Blue Jays already lead baseball in Offensive Runs Above Average at 59.9 — 19 higher than the second-place Giants. They lead baseball in runs with 72 more than the second-place Yankees, and lead baseball with a .772 OPS. They’re not exactly starved for offence, but in Tulowitzki, they receive a .300 batter with 12 home runs, 53 RBIs, and a .818 OPS. It’s safe to call the Blue Jays offence the scariest in the league.
While the Blue Jays offence didn’t need help, their pitching rotation, which is 18th in WAR and has given up the seventh-most home runs in baseball, could use a boost. Instead of targeting several of the solid pitching names available as the trade deadline approaches, Passan reports the Blue Jays will likely dig into their minor league affiliates for prospects to call up.
Additionally, Tulowitzki’s long-term fit with the Blue Jays is puzzling. While he’s an upgrade over Jose Reyes — and a team will always welcome a great hitter into the rotation — his $US100 million through 2020, compared to the $US66 million Reyes is owed through 2017, is a big investment. At 30 years old, Tulowitzki has averaged just 87 games per season over the last four years, and now heads to a potentially risky turf field in Toronto.
Tulowitzki’s fit is also odd considering the Blue Jays only have $US40 million committed to salary next season. With several big contracts coming off the books and a chance to re-tool, Tulowitzki’s $US20 million-per-year salary stands out. If the Blue Jays want to trade Tulowitzki, he’ll have to waive a no-trade clause.
Jayson Stark says that won’t happen any time soon.
Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that the Blue Jays are still trying to chase pitchers to bolster their rotation. In the meantime, the Blue Jays, chasing the second wild card spot in the American League, are adding a $US100 million luxury, betting that they can make a run for the playoffs behind a dynamic offence.
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