If ever there was a night that defined the Colorado Rockies, last night might have been it.
Here’s how it unfolded: In Chicago, the Rockies jumped out of the gates, seizing a 4-0 lead over the Cubs in the fourth inning. Cruising along and pitching a shutout through the first three innings, the franchise’s current “best” pitcher, Jorge De La Rosa, imploded in the bottom of the fourth, giving up six runs and the lead. De La Rosa subsequently got the hook from manager Walt Weiss. Down 7-4 heading into the ninth, the Rockies put up four runs, capped by a Carlos Gonzalez two-run, go-ahead homer – his second bomb of the game. Clinging to an 8-7 lead, “closer” John Axford gave up a two-run, walkoff homerun to Cubs rookie Kris Bryant. Game over, Rockies lose.
And then, they traded Troy Tulowitzki.
For Jose Reyes.
Reyes, who comes by way of Toronto, is also a shortstop; he’s two years older than Tulowitzki. In the past three years, Reyes has played in exactly one more game than the injury-prone Tulowitzki. This season, Reyes is hitting .285 with 34 RBI and four home runs; Tulowitzki is hitting .300 with 53 RBI and 12 home runs. Oddly, Reyes will make $2 million more than Tulowitzki this season and for the next three.
It’s all just so very Rockies.
Tulowitzki for Reyes. Yuck.
That’s how the typical Rockies fan will see it – and by typical, I mean the average person who joyfully takes in at least one fireworks game at Coors Field per summer, soaks in the party deck in a souvenir “Tulowizki” jersey and loves to join in on Clap, clap…Clap! Clap! Clap! Tu-Lo!
But with respect to accuracy and the trade, and in fairness to the Rockies and Blue Jays, “Tulowitzki for Reyes” isn’t the whole story.
To begin, it would be unlikely that Reyes factors into the equation in Colorado for very long. It’s quite possible that by the time you read this, he too will have been shipped elsewhere. While Reyes makes more money than Tulowitzki annually, his overall contract is far smaller. Reyes will earn $22 million per year through 2017, with a $22 million option or a $4 million buyout for 2018. Tulowitzki makes $20 million per year through 2019, $14 million in 2020 and then $15 million or a $4 million buyout in 2021. Tulowitzki also has a $2 million trade bonus on his contract. Add it all up and, at a minimum, the Toronto will take on roughly $52 million in added expenditure; plus, they’re locked into Tulowitzki for three more years than Reyes. By comparison, the Rockies are now “committed” to $52 million less.
And there were also pitchers. The Rockies give up LaTroy Hawkins, a fine person, but a pitcher who’s clearly over the hill. They bring in pitching prospects Jeff Hoffman and Miguel Castro. As Matthew Pouliot of nbcsports.com says, “This was a Tulo-for-Jeff Hoffman and Miguel Castro deal” and not really a Tulowitzki-for-Reyes deal.
Depending on what or whom you read, Hoffman and Castro could have “top of the rotation upside.” The 22-year-old Hoffman had Tommy John Surgery last season. Castro began the season as the Jays’ closer, but was sent down after a few rough outings.
So, the good news is that the Rockies bring in talent they can develop and a pitcher with a history of injury (NOTE: That was sarcasm).
The bad news is that without Tulowitzki, the Rockies might not have a bullet left in the gun unless they also intend on trading the red-hot Gonzalez (which would go over like a lead balloon about now). Reyes may indeed get flipped, but what could he possibly bring in return? If Rockies GM Jeff Bridich only fetched those two prospects for Tulowitzki, the belief that Reyes could yield anything more impressive is laughable at best. The 32-year-old, Punch and Judy hitter might score the Rockies slightly more than Ty Lawson brought the Nuggets.
In other words, prepare yourself to be underwhelmed.
Like him or not, Troy Tulowitzki was one of just a handful of “I’d pay to watch him play” athletes in Denver. Jose Reyes is a serviceable, accomplished, MLB veteran. But don’t expect the masses to spin the turnstiles on “Jose Rayez Jersey Day” at Coors Field.
It all just reeks of Rockies.