Jul 14, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; National League infielder Troy Tulowitzki (2) of the Colorado Rockies hits a home run in the first round during the 2014 Home Run Derby the day before the MLB All Star Game at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
As the season begins, we are profiling some potential trade candidates the Rockies might consider moving this summer. Last up is the biggest… Troy Tulowitzki.
Easily one of the greatest players in Colorado Rockies history, Troy Tulowitzki is also in the conversation for best player in the game when he’s on the field.
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The problem: he’s not on the field nearly often enough.
With Tulowitzki now north of 30 on an expensive contract, and with injuries piling up year after year, the club received offers from other teams around the league for a trade involving Tulowitzki this winter.
Tulo is the Rockies’ highest paid player, signed on a six-year extension in which he’s still owed at least $118 million from the club, and his contract won’t run out until after the 2020 season with a team option for 2021, as well.
Should the option not be picked up in 2021, Tulowitzki is due a $4 million buyout.
Tulo has been with Colorado since being drafted seventh overall in 2005 out of Long Beach State University. He played 155 games in the magical 2007 season, his rookie year, and since then, he’s only crossed the 140 games played threshold twice.
The past three years, he’s averaged just 88 games played per season due to sustained and unrelenting injury problems.
Injuries are at the forefront when you’re talking about Tulo’s tenure. He’s missed 222 games over the past three seasons, dealing with wrist, groin, rib and hip problems. He had season-ending surgery in August, 2014 to correct some of those issues in his hip.
However, when he’s on the field, he is dominant. Last season, in just 91 games, he slashed .340/.432/.603 with 21 home runs and 18 doubles, good for a 1.035 OPS and a 171 OPS+.
He walked away from 2014 with 5.5 WAR in just the 91 games, which would’ve been an incredible pace for an entire season. As such, he still finished 25th in MVP voting and earned his fourth All Star Game selection.
He’s hit 176 home runs and slashed .299/.373/.517 in his career with the Rockies, while collecting two Gold Glove Awards, as well.
Just like with Carlos Gonzalez, Tulowitzki is a superstar when he’s on the field, but his health history is tenuous enough to make one wonder if he can stay in the lineup enough to see that potential for several more seasons.
At 30 years old, Tulo will soon start declining in value, and with the injury history of his 20s, you have to wonder how he’ll be able to magically begin to stay healthy in his 30s.
At this point, though, he’s still incredibly valuable to virtually any team who has the pieces to trade for him, simply because he’s the best shortstop in baseball when he’s on the field.
The Rockies must decide – quickly – whether to build a winner around Tulo and CarGo, or ship them out while they each still have value and re-buid with good, young prospects (like what the Atlanta Braves appear to be doing this season).
A case can be made for keeping him, and for trading him, but either way, the Rockies must pick a path and stick with it, instead of waffling between the two or dangling rumors for months on end like they did this winter.
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You can’t replace Tulo with anyone, considering what he can do when he’s on the field.
If Tulo got traded this season, Rafael Ynoa, Daniel Descalso and (gulp) Charlie Culberson would probably see the lion’s share of innings at shortstop, but those guys won’t come close to replacing what Tulo can do (and shouldn’t be expected to do so).
Obviously, a Tulo trade would be very tough to stomach, especially for fans who have very little faith in the direction of this club and its front office in the first place.