The seemingly never-ending trade rumors surrounding Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki have surfaced yet again.
As usual, the St. Louis Cardinals are mentioned as a potential landing spot for the best all-around shortstop in the major leagues.
Unfortunately, the window of opportunity for Tulowitzki to make his way to St. Louis closed a long time ago. So can we not have this conversation again?
In a vacuum, Tulowitzki would look great in the middle of the St. Louis lineup. Imagine him batting cleanup in place of embattled first baseman Matt Adams, adding a much-needed right-handed power source to the middle of the order.
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Current shortstop Jhonny Peralta could slide over to first base to make room.
The problem is not the player. It’s the cost both in terms of cash and the talent it would take to get him.
The Rockies have been delusional when it comes to their star players for a long time. A club with a $97 million payroll is spending $20 million on one player -- and at least partially because of it they’re mired in last place in the National League West. They held on to Tulo and slugging outfielder Carlos Gonzales far too long hoping to get the players on the cheap in the first half of their contracts and then dump them onto a club with deeper pockets for a boatload of prospects. Now both players have seen their trade value diminish and the Rockies could end up getting stuck holding the bag.
It would make sense in a lot of ways for Colorado to give up Tulo for a couple of middling prospects -- and the major salary relief that would come from such a deal. But the team doesn’t seem content to do that.
Presuming the Cardinals were willing to absorb the $114 million Tulowitzki is owed from now through his 2021 $4 million buyout, who would they have to give up to land him?
Carlos Martinez? The Redbirds can’t afford to lose another starting pitcher. If they traded him, they couldn’t immediately replace him.
Carpenter? The Rockies are said to long coveted the doubles-hitting corner infielder. But he’s the keystone of the St. Louis offense. Can’t give him up.
Kolten Wong? I bet the Rockies would love a speedy second baseman with power who could hit the ball into the gaps and over the boards at Coors Field. But that’s not happening even if the Rockies ate all of Tulo’s contract.
Adams? He doesn’t have much trade value after it’s been exposed that he can’t hit lefty pitching.
Marco Gonzales? He’s a Colorado native who would have some marketing appeal. But he’s currently trying to come back from a shoulder injury and it hasn’t been going well.
The Cardinals lost a ton of trade chips when Oscar Taveras died in a car wreck and a ton more when the club dealt Shelby Miller to try to fill the hole left with Jason Heyward.
I don’t think they have the pieces left to make a mega deal without impacting the immediate future of the club. Maybe GM John Mozeliak could pull a rabbit out of his hate and bring Tulowitzki to St. Louis for a couple of prospects. But I doubt it. And even if he did, it would put a serious dent in the team’s ability to re-sign the 25-year-old Heyward if it invested $20 million a year over the next half decade in a shortstop who is past his 30th birthday.
Then there is the issue of Tulo’s injury-prone nature... He’s played more than 126 games in a season ONCE in the last five years. Since his first full season in baseball, he’s average 107 games a season.
Two years ago a deal might have made a little bit of sense. But I’m afraid that ship has sailed.