There’s no reason not to believe Troy Tulowitzki when he says he wants to stay a Colorado Rockie and that he wants to win here. He isn’t being coy or phony when he says he hasn’t asked and isn’t looking to be traded.
Tulo has handled everything surrounding this up-and-down season, including potential trade talk, like a complete professional. He has done everything he can to show he wants to help the Colorado Rockies win. But if you saw his face after the Rockies blew a three-run ninth-inning lead and a chance at a doubleheader sweep of the front-running Los Angeles Dodgers, you know how badly the losing hurts him. There’s no hiding it.
Despite saying he wants to stay in Colorado, Tulo should (and will) be traded before the trade deadline at the end of next month. It has to happen, for everyone’s benefit, including his. The perennial All-Star deserves a chance to play for a ring. With the Rockies in a rebuilding phase, that’s not likely to happen here in the near future. The star shortstop – who is healthy at the moment, despite playing with a leg condition that is not likely to ever heal 100% – is a valuable commodity and can help a contending team win right now. If the right move is made, the Rockies could land multiple top prospects (guys who could contribute in a big way almost immediately) and Tulo could find himself smack dab in the middle of some heated postseason action for the first time since 2009. It would be a chance for him to thrive.
This kind of situation is nothing new. Star players on struggling teams have been getting traded to contenders for decades, in all sports. No one in Colorado – or Boston for that matter – minded too much that Boston Bruin legend Ray Bourque won his only Stanley Cup as a member of the Colorado Avalanche at the end of his Hall of Fame career. The last-place Bruins got three prime prospects and a first round draft pick in return for the stalwart defensemen. It was a good deal for both sides.
Now it’s Colorado’s turn to send a star player to a contender so he can taste postseason glory.
Even though the Rockies are in last place in a very tough division, they have shown signs of great improvement, and with an influx of new talent, they could easily be a much better team after trading Tulo than they are right now. For that to happen, the Rockies obviously need to get a big return on any deal.
Adding players who can make an impact in the very near future is key. It’s crystal clear that Colorado’s biggest need remains front-of-the-rotation starting pitching. And while few teams – especially playoff contenders – are going to be willing to give up an established front line starter, the Rockies front office needs to identify young arms in the farm system of any interested contenders who have the potential to become a staff ace.
While many of us have advocated for the Rockies to make a trade with the offense-starved New York Mets and try to acquire a standout young hurler like Noah Syndergaard, the better deal may very well be with another team in the same National League East. The Washington Nationals have shown they are willing to go all-in to win in 2015. They have the best starting pitching staff in baseball at the moment, even with All-Star Stephen Strasburg on the disabled list with a muscle strain in his neck. The Nationals want to move free-agent-to-be shortstop Ian Desmond and have three young big league ready pitchers in Blake Treinen, Taylor Hill and Taylor Jordan that are tradable. A combination of Desmond (and his expiring contract) plus one or two of those arms in exchange for Tulo would be a very nice deal for the Rockies. And Tulo would make the Nationals the hands-down favorite to win the World Series.
A veteran Major League scout told me recently that top Rockies prospect Jon Gray is the real deal, and that given some additional time to develop at Triple-A Albuquerque, he can become the kind of Major League pitcher that the franchise has desperately needed for years. Eddie Butler has battled through his learning stage early this season, but has shown signs that the light bulb may be clicking on very soon. Others like Chad Bettis have emerged and appear to be viable long-term starters. So along with one of the best everyday lineups in the league, the Rockies have the makings of a contending club in the not-too-distant-future, even without the guy who is currently their best player.
Would it be tough to see Tulo go? Sure, but it would also be gratifying to see him getting champagne poured on his head after winning the World Series. Like Bourque, he wouldn’t be wearing our team’s colors at that moment, but he would be representing us nonetheless. Remember, Bourque took the Stanley Cup back to Boston to celebrate after the Avs won it in June of 2001. Three’s nothing wrong with sharing in a case like this.
Time is the wild card in all this. Tulo is healthy right now and starting to swing the bat better. He’s likely heading to another All-Star game. It was the same situation last year; then he got hurt. Hurt is not tradable. So do the Rockies make a move sooner, while Tulo is healthy, or do they wait until the July 31 deadline to maximize his value and increase the number of bidders? It’s a gamble either way.
What is for certain is that Tulo will continue to carry himself like a complete professional, on and off the field. For that, Rockies fans should be thankful.