Do you remember where you were when one of the most unexpected trades in Toronto Blue Jays history took place? Like many, I was fast asleep; completely unaware of the franchise-altering implications going on behind the scenes.
Today marks the one year anniversary of the Troy Tulowitzki trade; July 28th 2015. The Blue Jays acquired Tulowitzki overnight and sent Jose Reyes to the Colorado Rockies.
It’s the kind of trade you wouldn’t believe it if you saw it. That’s why when many people awoke on the morning of July 28th, they couldn’t fathom what had just happened. If you were one of the few souls who were awake into the late hours of July 27th and early hours of July 28th, you heard rumblings that something was going down.
The deal was initially reported by Ken Rosenthal as simply Troy Tulowitzki to the Blue Jays. Then further details trickled down, as Jose Reyes and minor leaguers were headed to the Rockies. And lastly, LaTroy Hawkins was announced as part of the deal.
So where were you when you found out about this bombshell? I myself had fallen asleep in my basement, in the midst of writing something I wasn’t all too thrilled about. In my mind, I had already downplayed any expectations of the Blue Jays doing anything whatsoever at the trade deadline.
I thought the Blue Jays were too far removed from the division lead. With a 50-51 record, it felt like the Blue Jays were already running out of time to make a run at the playoffs. I wasn’t convinced the Jays had it in them to make any blockbuster moves at the trade deadline.
I was prepared to accept another sub par Blue Jays season, reserved to make it 23 consecutive years of futility. But I was incredibly wrong about the 2015 Blue Jays, and very happy to say so.
How I Found out about the Tulowitzki Deal
Whenever I fell asleep on the couch downstairs (sometimes watching west coast Jays games), I’d always wake up between 3:00 and 4:00am and eventually make my way back up to bed. That fateful morning, I had indeed fallen asleep on the couch and just so happened to check my Twitter notifications before heading back up to bed.
I was floored to hear the news. My mind immediately began to race. There was no way I was going back to sleep that night.
The excitement gave me a rush of adrenaline; I stayed downstairs and began feverishly writing a piece on the Troy Tulowitzki trade. Even as I was writing, I couldn’t believe Alex Anthopoulos had not only acquired the best shortstop in baseball, but he jettisoned Jose Reyes’ contract in the process.
Occasionally, I kept glancing up into the window well and noticed the sun was beginning to rise. I think I finished writing around 6:00am and then crawled into bed for about an hour of sleep. That morning afterwards was a little foggy, but the elation overrode any sleep deprivation I was experiencing.
I had no idea that was only the tip of the iceberg for the Blue Jays.
The Tulo Trade Set the Wheels in Motion
If you ask anyone surrounding the Blue Jays, they’ll likely tell the story of a similar sleepless night. That entire five-day period from July 27th to 31st was pure insanity for the Blue Jays, but the Troy Tulowitzki trade got the ball rolling.
Many will point towards the David Price trade as the seminal move for the 2015 Toronto Blue Jays. Price was the crown jewel on the trade market and bringing him Toronto finally brought some legitimacy to the Blue Jays franchise. it signaled the Blue Jays were in it to win it.
But looking back, I think the first early-morning deal of that whirlwind week may have the most lasting impact on the Blue Jays, and that’s the Troy Tulowitzki trade.
In total, the Toronto Blue Jays acquired five players at the 2015 trade deadline, and only one of them remains on the roster to this day: Troy Tulowitzki. One year after the Tulo trade, he continues to have a tremendous impact on this team’s overall success.
Tulowitzki Turns Things Around for Toronto
One simple indication is the Blue Jays’ overall record since acquiring Troy Tulowitzki back on July 28th 2015, which is 105-70. In one calendar year since getting Tulo, the Blue Jays have played .600 baseball.
Admittedly, Tulo missed some late last season and earlier this year, but his ability to affect the game on both sides of the ball has been incredible. Troy Tulowitzki was an upgrade over Jose Reyes in every way imaginable.
In a span of two short years following the Blue Jays blockbuster deal with the Marlins, Jose Reyes was a shell of his former self. His defensive ability had declined and Reyes was no longer the speed threat he once was. One can understand why the Blue Jays pushed to hard to trade Reyes for Tulowitzki.
As with any player, they go through their rough patches. The freak injury after colliding with Kevin Pillar in mid-September of last year was one of them. As was Tulowitzki’s awful stretch from Opening Day this year until he returned from the disabled list in late May.
But the highs that come with having an All-Star shortstop on the roster certainly outweigh the lows. Thinking back to Troy Tulowitzki’s postseason performance against the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more impressive offensive performance by a Blue Jays player.
A True Game-Changer for the Blue Jays
You can begin to understand why the Colorado Rockies inked Tulo to a 10-year/$157.75 million dollar contract extension in the first place. And you can see why Alex Anthopoulos and the Blue Jays’ front office worked relentlessly to bring Troy Tulowitzki to Toronto … because he is a difference-maker.
It’s certainly a luxury to have an offensive-minded shortstop on the roster the likes of Troy Tulowitzki. At times, his stretches at the plate are things of magic. But I think where the Blue Jays have benefited tremendously is in Troy Tulowitzki’s incredible defense at shortstop.
I don’t think it’s any coincidence that many of the Blue Jays’ starting pitchers flourish with Troy Tulowitzki playing behind them. Not only does Tulo get to many baseballs that other shortstops can’t get to, he often displays laser-like precision when throwing across the diamond.
Troy Tulowitzki has truly been a game-changer for the Toronto Blue Jays. And without that early morning trade on July 28th 2015, one can only wonder where the Blue Jays might be right now.