The Colorado Rockies did not trade Troy Tulowitzki this off-season. I am of the strong belief that this was and will continue to be the correct decision.
As is always the case with superstar players, the Rockies’ front office insisted that they would have to be overwhelmed by an offer to even consider dealing their franchise shortstop. The only serious suitor was reportedly the St. Louis Cardinals. For those of us who have wondered what the Cardinals actually offered for Tulo, we might finally have an answer thanks to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
Many Rockies fans, it would seem, do not care for Tulo. So that is why I say that I reluctantly ask this question and prepare myself for the possible can of worms it might bust open.
Should the Rockies have accepted this trade for Troy Tulowitzki?
The Cardinals discussed a trade with the Rockies involving right-hander Shelby Miller, first baseman Matt Adams and shortstop Pete Kozma for Tulowitzki before signing free-agent shortstop Jhonny Peralta last offseason, according to a source.”
Miller would have landed the Rockies a top tier starting pitching prospect, an asset rarely parted with in today’s MLB climate. Even as somebody who wants to have no time for these trade rumors, I have no choice but to admit that it would have been a good starting point.
Things go downhill from there. Adams admittedly offers a lot of promise and would have been a logical piece given the fact that the Rockies needed a first baseman (kind of) at the time. What we should say is, they needed a first baseman because they apparently never considered the very reasonable possibility of moving Michael Cuddyer to first base full time, something we can all wince at together when Corey Dickerson is batting .450 on the Colorado Springs Sky Sox one month from now.
Adams brings the kind of raw power rarely seen in the big leagues. If he were on the Rockies, one envisions he and Wilin Rosario working together as street performers in LoDo, lifting heavy stuff and hitting random objects a great distance as people ooh and ahh and drop change into a Rockies cap.
As a rookie last season Adams batted an impressive .284/.335/.503. He had 17 home runs and 51 RBI. Somewhat concerning, however, were his platoon splits:
Against RHP: .295/.356/.520, 14 home runs, 41 RBI
Against LHP: .231/.231/.423, 3 home runs, 10 RBI
These splits might be no problem in the long run. At age 25 Adams has plenty of time to level them out and develop into an elite power hitter. Maybe he will. But the Rockies would have been taking on some risk in that regard, which is probably too much risk when you consider that Adams effectively would have been one of the two trade pieces offered the Rockies. Which brings us to…
Pete Kozma. With respect to Kozma, who I’m sure is a nice man, that would be the absolute definition of a throw-in.
You know when you’re trying to make trades on the franchise mode of a video game? You just cannot possibly understand why the computer general manager does not want to trade you, say, Miguel Cabrera for Michael Cuddyer, Josh Rutledge and Kevin Millwood (just signed off the wire). In your efforts to scam the robo-GM, you think: “Oh, they need a first baseman to replace him!” Naturally you scroll down, find the made-up first baseman in your pretend minor leagues, and throw him in the deal. That’s what it feels like the Cardinals were doing with Kozma.
Kozma batted .217/.275/.273 last season. His redeeming quality is his ability to play defense at a premium position at shortstop, but it only redeems him so much. According to Baseball Reference he was a -0.2 WAR player in 2013, or just below replacement level. According to FanGraphs he was exactly replacement level at 0.0 fWAR.
Maybe Kozma is going to hit better and he would have been worth adding in this deal. But it really feels like he was just a warm body thrown in because the Rockies would have needed a shortstop to replace Tulo. At this point I will point you to David Cameron (managing editor of FanGraphs) and his reaction when the Cardinals placed Kozma on the trading block last week.
— David Cameron (@DCameronFG) March 20, 2014
This trade would have essentially been Miller and Adams for Tulowitzki. Kozma would have been a warm body, fodder for Josh Rutledge to destroy in the Spring Training competition for the starting gig at shortstop. Given the fact that the Rockies would also have had to pay some of Tulowitzki’s salary, this feels like trading one of the five best players in baseball, in his prime, for $0.70 on the dollar.
Yes, I know the health issues. I am acutely aware of them. I still don’t think a trade like this would ever offer the Rockies anything close to the upside Tulo does if he stays healthy at this stage of his career.
Each route has its risks; my choice would be to take my chances with Tulo staying on the field. If he does he is a singular talent and a perennial MVP candidate. The risk of trading that for two unproven players feels a lot scarier to me than gambling on Tulo’s ability to buck a bad injury history.
In the end the Rockies have Tulo and the Cardinals have Jhonny Peralta. Is that the way it should be, or did the Rockies miss an opportunity by rejecting that offer?