You know that thing I said yesterday about the Blue Jays probably standing pat at the trade deadline? Never mind.
Like a cat burglar in the middle of the night, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Colorado Rockies pulled off a blockbuster trade that virtually nobody saw coming; Jose Reyes, Miguel Castro, Jeff Hoffman and Jesus Tinoco for Troy Tulowitzki.
In essence, the Jays and Rockies swapped shortstops, while Colorado received three pitching prospects return for one of the best shortstops in all of baseball.
In doing so, the Toronto Blue Jays solidified their status as an offensive juggernaut in the American League, while at the same time also getting a slightly younger player at a key position on the diamond.
Tulo for Reyes – A Good Deal for the Blue Jays
At first blush, this looks like a good deal for the Blue Jays. Not only are they getting out of the Jose Reyes contract (who was signed for two more years plus an option), but the Blue Jays are getting back the best player in the deal: Troy Tulowitzki.
Tulo is the superior defender, he’s a better hitter than Reyes, and he’s slightly younger (by two years). Reyes may possess greater speed than Tulo, but Troy plays both sides of the ball much better.
One of the only knocks on him are obviously the injury concerns, but those concerns existed with Jose Reyes as well.
Both shortstops have had a difficult time staying on the field as neither Reyes or Tulowitzki have played a full season since 2012. Reyes missed many games due to a litany of injuries while Tulo missed significant time due to two major injuries in 2012 and 2014.
Not that Troy Tulowitzki is immune to an eventual decline, but when you compare both shortstops when healthy, Tulo is clearly the much better all-around player.
Future Payroll Commitments
Troy Tulowitzki’s pre-existing contract might’ve scared a lot of people off, but at $20 million dollars per season for the next four seasons, that’s something the Blue Jays are going to have to live with.
Dave Cameron of FanGraphs discerned that the Blue Jays are taking on an additional $50 million dollars in salary with this trade. And while that $20 million dollar hit may seem like a lot, it leaves Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin as the only Blue Jays with future payroll commitments beyond 2016.
Why Did This Deal Even Take Place?
Once again, I think a lot of people are left scratching their heads as to why this deal even transpired in the first place. The Blue Jays had Jose Reyes under contract for several years to come and their offensive output was already incredible.
Much like the Russell Martin signing and Josh Donaldson trade this past offseason (which may have seemed unnecessary at the time), when Alex Anthopoulos saw an opportunity to improve the roster, he went out and did it.
Frankly, I’m surprised that the Colorado Rockies moved Troy Tulowitzki at all; there had been rumblings for years that they were looking to move him. Akin to the Josh Donaldson trade, there are probably a lot of MLB executives left stunned that Tulo was even on the table in any potential trade talks with the Rockies.
A Precursor to Another Trade?
Judging by the magnitude of this trade, I’m not entirely convinced that Alex Anthopoulos is done dealing here. Troy Tulowitzki is a very nice piece for the Blue Jays to have, which may convince them to move Tulo for some starting pitching.
Possessing Troy Tulowitzki only adds to the Blue Jays’ surplus of offense, but if there was one piece Alex Anthopoulos was going to use bring back some starting pitching, it would be Troy Tulowitzki.
In losing highly coveted prospects like Castro and Hoffman, that leaves the Blue Jays with two less trade chips to fetch any prospective pitchers on the market. But this trade also leaves Toronto with one very big trade chip: Troy Tulowitzki.
The Decline of Jose Reyes
I’m really curious if there was a tipping point for the Jays’ front office when it came to the play of Jose Reyes. Historically, he hasn’t been all that great a defender, but the Jerry Howarth controversy brought Reyes’ defensive deficiencies were brought into the forefront.
At many junctures this season, Reyes has appeared to be a defensive liability on the field, and Troy Tulowitzki is anything but as one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball.
Considering that Reyes was under contract through 2017 and his health has been a concern in recent years, I wonder if the Blue Jays were merely looking ahead to mitigate any injury risks which could crop up in the coming seasons.
Nobody was really comfortable with the prospect of having Jose Reyes continue to play on artificial turf for the next three seasons, either.
There had also been rumblings that the Blue Jays could and should speak to Jose Reyes about possibly moving off of shortstop. Hypothetically speaking, what if they have already presented him with the idea of moving positions and he refused? Could that have played a part in this deal for Troy Tulowitzki?
Parting with Prospects: Castro and Hoffman
In terms of the prospects given up in Miguel Castro and Jeff Hoffman, that’s simply the cost of doing business. Castro displayed flashes of brilliance during Spring Training and his short stint early in the season for the Blue Jays, but he was ultimately a trade chip.
Jeff Hoffman may be one player who turns out to be a real bona fide starting pitcher down the road. But if he didn’t factor into the big league club’s plans in the immediate future, then it may have been the right move for the Blue Jays to sell high on Hoffman.
Don’t Forget About LaTroy Hawkins
The one piece that may get lost in the shuffle is the addition of LaTroy Hawkins coming to the Blue Jays from the Rockies. I’m not insinuating he was a throwaway piece, as the Blue Jays absolutely needed veteran relievers, and Hawkins is the very definition of that.
I don’t know if LaTroy Hawkins now slots in as the Blue Jays closer, but at the very least, he provides some stability to what has been a shaky Blue Jays’ bullpen. He may fill the very same role that Darren Oliver did a few years ago.
At the very least, Hawkins help could bridge the gap from the starter to Bo Schultz, Aaron Sanchez and Roberto Osuna in the back end of the bullpen. LaTroy Hawkins was used predominantly as a seventh/eighth inning guy in Colorado.