Would the Rockies Trade Tulowitzki for this Package?
According to Jon Heyman via the MLB Network, the Mets should offer Noah Syndergaard, Dillon Gee, Rafael Montero, Kevin Plawecki, and Wilmer Flores, in return for Tulowitzki and about $30M.
Sure, Jon, the Mets SHOULD make that offer. And then be prepared for the Rockies to mildly chuckle prior to slamming the phone down.
To try to put this in perspective, let’s start first with the fan revolt that would occur in Denver if such a deal was consummated. As a Mets fan, imagine if the Mets traded David Wright, plus $30M in return for four guys you never heard of, and one journeyman .500 fifth starter. You’d be thrilled, right? Especially when you found out that the guy who would be stepping into D-Wright’s position was a question mark both offensively and defensively — right?
But let’s pretend that selling tickets and appeasing the fan base is not part of the equation. Is a package of Syndergaard, Gee, Montero, Plawecki, and Flores enough to pry Tulowitzki away from Colorado?
No way. It sounds like a Mets fan’s fantasy. Actually, it almost sounds like the kind of deal that a Yankees fan might call in to WFAN — “hey, I don’t see why the Yankees can’t trade, uh, Chris Young, Brendan Ryan, Garrett Jones, and Chris Capuano for Tulowitzki. Hey, we’ll even throw in Chase Whitley and Didi Gregorius if that’s what it takes.”
Let’s look at the proposed package. Gee is a throw-in and salary dump; I have no idea why Rockies would want him. He’s a career .500 pitcher, a fifth starter, coming off his worst season, and his fly-ball rates wouldn’t play well in thin air. Oh, did I mention he’s damaged goods? No one really knows the extent of his lat muscle injury — all we know is that Gee pitched poorly after returning from the DL. So, don’t even count Gee as part of the package.
Next up, Montero. Here we have a pitcher who will live or die by how well he can paint the corners. If his velocity drops at all, he probably won’t hit his projected ceiling of #3 starter. We’ve heard scouts compare him to Greg Maddux, but he hasn’t shown a consistent off-speed pitch. His ability to prevent homeruns makes him ideal for Colorado, but he wouldn’t be considered a key piece in a deal for someone of Tulowitzki’s caliber.
Then there is Flores, the man without a position. The Mets insist there’s a possibility he might be able to probably play shortstop, maybe. Mets fans are convinced that his 50-game audition is proof that he can handle the position. Sandy Alderson will boast that Flores hit 28 HR in his last 162 minor league games, and he’s still only 23 years old. OK, but what happens when outsiders evaluate Flores? They see a guy who has no speed, highly questionable mobility and fielding ability, likely will need to move to a corner position, and may not hit for power.
Plawecki is another Mets fan favorite — fans love to include him in nearly every trade proposal. They think he’s a stud because he hits for power and squats behind the plate. Or does he? Plawecki’s one tool is his bat, and he’s hit 26 HR in 3 pro seasons and close to 1200 plate appearances. Mets fans love his OBP, which is .372 but has more to do with his batting average than walk rate. He doesn’t strike out much, but that’s because he puts the ball in play. Scouts outside the Mets organization will tell you he’s a dead pull hitter who may have trouble adjusting to off-speed pitches. They’ll also tell you he has a below-average arm and barely adequate skills behind the plate. Baseball America says “Plawecki has the bat to profile as a starting catcher. If not, he could be a valuable part-timer behind the plate and at first base.” Hmm … doesn’t sound like a such a stud after all. He sounds like he might become Ryan Doumit — and Doumit has made a nice career for himself.
Finally, we have Syndergaard — the Holy Grail of pitching prospects, if you ask any Mets fan. He’s the next Nolan Ryan, for sure. The Mets would be crazy to trade him — even for Troy Tulowitzki.
Maybe so. But then there is the forearm strain he suffered last year — which many know is a precursor to UCL strains (or tears). His mechanics are inconsistent, and he struggled last year in AAA. People like to point out that Matt Harvey didn’t dominate AAA, either, as if that means anything. The difference between Harvey and Syndergaard is that when Harvey was in AAA, he threw with consistent mechanics, consistent release point, and threw four pitches for strikes, while Syndergaard has a fastball and we don’t yet know what else. His curveball remains a work-in-progress, and he sometimes telegraphs it. He very well could turn out to be a star some day, but right now, remains unpolished. Would Colorado want him? Absolutely, and with Syndergaard is where the trade talks BEGIN.
Hey, I don’t mean to knock Mets players. My point is that outsiders view them differently from insiders and Mets fans; I’m trying to establish a more balanced perspective. I’m sure some of you will disagree with my analyses, and you’re welcome to voice your opinions in the comments.
But regardless, the point here is that Troy Tulowitzki, when healthy, is the best shortstop on the planet. And when he’s playing only half the time, he’s STILL more valuable than nearly every player on the Mets roster right now, and still one of the top players in all of baseball. To acquire a talent like that requires talent in return. Is there risk, due to Tulowitzki’s health issues and age? Heck yeah — but if those risks didn’t exist, he wouldn’t be shopped, and the Mets wouldn’t have any chance to acquire him at all.
If the Mets made the Heyman trade proposal and the Rockies accepted, I’d be worried — it would indicate that the Rox know, for sure, something is wrong with Tulowitzki.
Back in 1984, the Mets “emptied their farm system” for the best catcher in baseball. They traded Hubie Brooks, Mike Fitzgerald, Herm Winningham and Floyd Youmans to the Montreal Expos (yes Virginia, they really did exist) for Gary Carter. Carter at the time was going into his age-31 season, a perennial all-star and MVP candidate. Granted, unlike Tulowitzki, Carter was solid as a rock and showing no signs of wear and tear — he’d just appeared in 159 ballgames in the previous season, including 143 behind the plate. Because of this, you may not like my comparing Carter to Tulowitzki, but there is a clear similarity — if the Mets acquire Tulowitzki, it will have the same impact as acquiring Carter in the winter of ’84 — both in improving the club and in showing the world that the Mets are serious about winning.
If we look more closely at the Carter deal, it was a pretty substantial, bold move. Brooks and Fitzgerald were legit everyday players; Youmans was a flamethrowing, raw talent at that time and very similar to where Syndergaard is right now — he could light up the radar gun, miss bats, and destined to be a potential ace, but was rough around the edges and about a year away from breaking into a big-league rotation. Winningham impressed with his bat, legs, and glove in a September 1984 audition, produced at every minor league level, and likely would’ve been penciled into the 1985 Mets outfield had he not been blocked by Mookie Wilson and Lenny Dykstra. That was a serious package for Carter — far, far more value than the Heyman suggestion for Tulowitzki. Why did the Mets part with those players? Per GM Frank Cashen, as quoted by The New York Times:
“We have parted with some outstanding talent,” Cashen said. “But, to obtain someone of the caliber of Gary Carter, the price isn’t going to come cheaply.”
That’s what the Mets did in the winter of 1984, when they were knocking on the door of first place in the NL East — when they finally made the decision to go “all in.” They made a bold, dramatic move that changed the face of the organization and made crystal-clear their intentions.
But let’s move away from that for a moment; there’s still the matter of Tulowitzki being a major risk due to his annual injury issues, his age, and his most recent hip injury, which some think could impact his future. Well, a few things to consider. First off, the risk is a big reason Tulowitzki is available. Second, considering modern medicine, do you believe that career-ending injuries still exist? I’m not so sure. Maybe Tulowitzki won’t be quite the same player he was before, but I doubt he’ll hang up his spikes in the next two years. Third, the last time the Mets had the chance to get an elite, game-changing shortstop on the relative cheap due to injury concerns was the winter of 2010-2011 — and his name was Jose Reyes. Like today with Tulowitzki, the Mets at that time chose to minimize risk and take a “wait and see” approach. In other words, wait until the player proves to be healthy, at which point, the Mets could no longer afford him. In the event the player proves not to be healthy, well, the Mets look smart by not making the move. Either way, the Mets don’t get the player. See how that works?
I’m not necessarily advocating that the Mets put together a richer package than Heyman suggests in order to acquire Tulowitzki; truth is, I doubt very highly that the Mets would take on Tulowitzki’s salary and years — it doesn’t fit into the strategy they’ve been taking for the past four years. Rather, I’d like to first point out that the Heyman package isn’t nearly enough to pry Tulowitzki from Colorado, and second, any Met fan who thinks that package is “too much,” should try to look at it from the perspective of a) an outsider, and b) a Mets fan who wants to see the team truly and sincerely “go for it” in 2015.
What will wind up happening with Troy Tulowitzki? Who knows? My guess is he’ll remain in Colorado until at least through spring training, probably through early June. At that point, he’ll prove to the world he’s healthy, and the Rox will deal him to a contender for a massive, blockbuster package. My crystal ball is showing the Yankees, Angels, Tigers, and Mariners. There are also faint visions of the Giants and — perish the thought — Nationals. Yes, I just threw a lot of paint at the wall, but I’m betting one of those teams stick.
In other news, happy holidays. Post your reaction in the comments.
Let someone else overpay for Tulo, even if it’s the Rockies paying him for past contributions. There will always be blockbuster trades to be made. Yes injuries happen, but also players surprise (see deGrom, Jacob).
Merry Christmas everyone and we are now halfway through the offseason!
When you look at those numbers (ahem. Citifield?), you realize you aren’t quite concerned about splits. He’s not going to hit in LA, SD or against the SF Giants anymore.
Tulowitzki not hitting against the Giants/LA/SD 50+ games per year and instead hitting against NL East pitching, and in the more hitter-friendly parks, is something to absolutely consider.
Thanks for pointing that out!
Quick question. Do you think Tulo is what the mets need? Do you think that getting Tulo is the “bold and dramatic” move that the Mets must make now?
Another quick question: how good was Fregosi when they traded for him?
Merry Christmas and happy holidays.
That trade proposal is not as out of kilter as you are suggesting. First off, you state that you are concerned that if the Rockies accept the trade that the are really concerned about Tulo’s injury. I partly disagree. I am already very concerned given that they are clearly shopping him. A healthy Tulo on his current deal is a huge bargain compared to recent contracts of elite players.
Second, you cite the Carter trade, and one can cite the Piazza trade as well, as no namers going for a stud. However, there are plenty of trades where no namers go for all-star caliber players where the no namers become big players…the Fregosi deal, the Bartolo Colon to the Expos deal, the Teixiera to the Braves deal.
Lastly, many others outside of the Mets consider Syndergaard to be a top of the order prospect and Plawecki a top catching prospect. Additionally, I have read in more than one place that talent evaluators think that few others can ante up the talent that the Mets can for Tulo.has nothing to lose –
In the end, while a Tulo acquisition would instantly change the complexion of the Mets and demeanor of the fan base in regards to 2015, why he is on the market would worry me too much to spend those bullets right now on him. I would reluctantly have to agree with Dan C. This is one front that I think Alderson
has nothing to lose by waiting. The further out it goes, the closer Tulo gets to the field.
over the span of 2010-2014, Tulo has played 262 road games and put up a .861 OPS in those away games. That ranks him 14th overall in MLB over that time span. The next closest SS to him are Hanley Ramirez ranked 28th at .812, Jhony Peralta ranked 95th at .734, and Jose Reyes ranked 99th at .731. Tulo is by a huge margin the best hitting SS on the road in MLB, and one of the most dangerous rod hitters in all of baseball. That is before you take into account his premium position and defensive abilities. Most all metrics and they eye test place Tulo in the top 3rd of fielders at his position.
This is a plus plus hitter and plus fielder in a premium position. The only thing in question is his health issues and how that will impact his performance as he ends his peak seasons range and enters the decline phase. His performance away from Coors is not an issue, in fact, his road performance is elite.
I haven’t seen anyone outside of Metsdom consider Plawecki a “top catching prospect.” But aside from that, and in answer to the other trade examples you point out — who cares how the prospects turn out? You don’t make trades based on whether you’re worried that the players you give up turn out to be stars. You make trades to improve your team — what happens to the players you give up is not of concern.
People love to point out the Fregosi – Ryan deal. But guess what? The Mets STILL would’ve stunk from 1974 to 1984 even with Nolan Ryan. At many times during those ten years, they had among the best pitching staffs in MLB, but they couldn’t score runs. If they had Ryan throwing no-hitters for them, it wouldn’t have made much of a difference — unless he pulled a Babe Ruth and suddenly became a slugger.
There’s one thing Alderson has to lose by waiting: Tulowitzki. If it turns out that Tulowitzki is healthy, there will be at least a half-dozen other teams bidding on him — if the Rox make him available.
I have found Plawecki in top 60 prospect list overall for 2015, and the #4 catching prospect on MLB.com and Scoutingbook’s lists. I consider that a top catching prospect but perhaps that is being too generous…this is somewhat in the eye of the beholder. That said, objective evaluators seem to like him.
I agree that Ryan would not have made the 74-84 Mets into winners, and the what-ifs are really useless, but I slightly disagree in this regard – had Ryan or any prospect not been dealt for a bust and developed into a star, this would allow that asset or other assets to be dealt for needs and likely command more in future returns.
Yes, Alderson can lose Tulo, the price can go up or down, this is a high-stakes gamble either way. There are no crystal balls here.
My question to you – what would you deal today from the Met assets for Tulo assuming Jeffy required the Rockies to kick in $30 million? Would you give them Syndergaard, Matz, Plawecki, Lagares, and Tejada? Or more?
Good point on the possibility of using Ryan or other assets to deal for other needs. But the point was that at the time of the deal, the Mets needed a bat, and they acquired one for a relatively (at the time) fair price — the price of a flamethrower who couldn’t find the plate. And maybe Ryan needed the change of scenery to flourish.
Lagares? No no no, that’s WAY too much. Lagares does more with his glove than any other Mets position player does with anything. Lagares is the only player on the Mets who has any chance of being MORE valuable than Tulo in a given year. I wouldn’t deal our top two prospects plus Lagares for anyone short of a HEALTHY Tulowitzki.
Syndergaard, Matz, Plawecki, and either Murphy (if the Rockies prefer an immediate help and known commodity) or Rosario (if they’re in full rebuild mode) is more like it. And I wouldn’t even sign off on that without knowing more about Tulo’s legs. If they seem likely to turn him from a great defensive SS into a sub-par one, then I’d pass.
I just read the chapter about how Cashen put together the 86 team from the book The Bad Guys Win, or something like that. Good read, I enjoyed it.
I guess the most obvious difference that jumps out is that the year before they brought in Carte, the Mets won 90 games (and missed the payoffs) and had a record breaking attendance for the season. I guess were not there yet.
Another issue that I noticed, was that Hernandez and Carter were offered to the Mets, and Cashen jumped on abroad. That explains trading Brooks.
I guess if I had to decide, I would give this current team a chance to play, grow and win. Yes, I would be open to opportunity (and deal for Tulo might just be that), and yes I would try to get a defensive upgrade for short (Drew?), but in the end, this team first needs to win more than it loses, build confidence and then go all in.
The 86 team had a NY payroll. Remenber that they got Hernandez on his final year before free agency and they were able to lock him up.
Other than winning, the current Mets must show that they can spend and that is not too clear.
1. Tulo isn’t the magical missing piece. Even assuming the best from him, he might push them into the playoffs as the wildcard if all breaks right. With the current outfield offense, and infield defense (assuming Wright comes back, but is not at his previous gold glove level), I don’t see a good likelihood of his acquisition alone being enough.
2. You are giving up flawed players who add up to considerably less than Tulo when healthy, but is he healthy? If you trade away all your assets and go all-in on this season, what happens when he is out 50% of the season, deGrom regresses, Harvey comes back as great, but not all-world, Wright is a repeat and its clear his best is in the past, Duda turns Davis, the corner outfielders suck, d’Arnaud looks more like early14 than late 14 Travis, Tejada plays 90 games at short, and once again Daniel Murphy is your best hitter and Lagares is only playing because someone on the field has to be able to catch the ball. I don’t think this happens, but its not impossible, right?
3. Are his stats inflated? His splits seem to imply so. He slugged .748 at Coors last season, and .447 on the road. His OBP fell 133 points away from home. He had exactly 1/2 as many home runs. And his BA fell from 417 to 257. The Coors Tulo is worth the proposed package and more; the road one wouldn’t be worth Syndegaard alone.
4. The elephant in the room. How could the Mets pay him and hope to retain the pitching they have developed, along with other people to man the bases?
That said, the Mets have seemingly great pitching at a time when it is not exactly rare, so trading Syndegaard, Montero, and Gee, while a risk, is not unreasonable in 2014. This team is not winning a championship as presently constituted unless everything broke absolutely right anyway, so who knows. They have to take a flyer on this kind of move eventually, whether it is Syndegaard today or Matz tomorrow.
Light a match
Are you asking where I think he’d hit in the lineup? Third or fourth, I suppose? Maybe second? If I were the manager I’d want to make sure to maximize his plate appearances, so the higher in the lineup, the better.
But your statement that the Mets “emptied their farm system” for Carter is exaggerated, Hubie Brooks was the only legit talent given up by the Mets for GC. Mike Fitzgerald was never a “legit everyday player”! He was an OK defensive catcher without any offensive skills.
The Mets always overhype their prospects, so I don’t know how good a prospect Floyd Youmans really was (he was before the Internet and ESPN!). But as I remember he was never hyped like Craig Swan, or Billy Beane!! And Herm Winningham was never going to be an everyday player.
But the article is well written with some compelling arguments. But if I had my choice I’d take Hubie Brooks over Troy Tulowitzki!!!
In 1984, Mike Fitzgerald was a rookie and the Mets’ starting catcher at 23 years of age. He had an excellent 1983 in AAA as a 22-year-old, posting a .852 OPS with 14 home runs in 452 plate appearances in a highly competitive pitchers’ league. His defensive skills were stellar, and, at the time of the deal, many expected him to be a solid everyday catcher for a championship team at minimum, and a possible All-Star as his ceiling. As a very loose comparison, he, at the time, was a younger version of Travis d’Arnaud. Fitzgerald didn’t quite turn out to be an All-Star, but he did manage to play 10 years in MLB, which is nothing to sneeze at. A stiff? I think that’s harsh. Yes, he wound up being more of a backup catcher but at age 23 he was looking pretty darn good — and was far ahead of where Plawecki is today. In fact, I would argue that after the 1984 season, Fitzgerald’s future looked brighter than d’Arnaud’s, because he already had big-league backstop skills and many believed his bat would eventually come around with more experience — but I’m only going on my memory.
Speaking of that memory, I remember Youmans being hyped for his raw skills, but people not being as excited because the Mets already had Gooden, Darling, and Terrell in the rotation, and Schiraldi, Aguilera, Jay Tibbs, Bill Latham, and Randy Myers were all more polished / ahead of Youmans. The Mets farm system was overfilled with outstanding arms at that time — far more than they’ve ever had since.
Winningham was absolutely considered a top outfield prospect at the time, and in fact was given an everyday job for the first three years he was in Montreal. Like most prospects, he simply didn’t pan out — which is exactly why I’d have no problem trading a bunch of prospects for Tulowitzki.
I am old enough to remember Fitz and was actually disappointed to see him and Hubie go, as I saw them as parts of the core that could contribute to a nice run. Carter was certainly a key on the championship team, but after 1985 his decline was fast and steep. IMHO the Hernandez deal was more one-sided and impactful. Ultimately, the Carter deal helped yield one championship that may or may not have occurred had the Mets gone in another direction.
David West, yes, the long lanky lefty that kind of washed out. I also remember Rick Aguilera and Kevin Tapani. While Sweet Music has a big year for the Mets in 1989m, his two plus years amounted to about 10 WAR, while Aggie and Tapani put up about 46 WAR post Mets, Not that WAR isend all be all, but the Mets clearly got the short end of that deal and no championships or playoff births to show for it.
Give that the Mets are not one player away, and that their best assets (the young arms) mostly aren’t in their prime, I cannot empty the prospect pool for a 30+ high injury risk player, even if he is the best in the game at his position if healthy.
Now, I agree Rockies may want Wheeler or deGrom – matter of fact on another board I call the deal now DEAD becuase the Rockies new GM wont budge at all.
Cant understand how you poop on the 5 player package and call yourself a Mets fan. Not to say you should value all our guys highly since you are a fan – but that you should know their value much better than you seemingly do.
Picturing Wilmer for ten years at Coors – WOW.
I’d make this offer with Mazzoni and Tejada in place of Montero and Flores. Or ask for a second piece.
It’s not that the package doesn’t have teeth, so much as what you and I agree upon — that someone of Wheeler’s or deGrom’s ilk would have to be included. My main point is that no team is going to trade an elite player who is relatively inexpensive and not get at least one established, impactful MLBer in return — and Dillon Gee doesn’t fit that. Even the Dodgers were able to wrangle Yasmani Grandal — who is going to step right in as their starting backstop — in a salary-dump deal.
I do not call myself a Mets fan. I’m a baseball fan who happens to blog about the Mets. I also don’t know that my ability to value a Mets prospect is better than anyone else — I have my own, objective, unbiased opinions that may or may not agree with others’.
I didn’t call Fitzgerald a stiff, that was your word. I stated he was not a legit MLB everyday player.
If Mike Fitzgerald was the Mets’s catcher today, the Mets would be looking to upgrade that position.
Yes he played 10 years and hit .235 and never considered a gold glove catcher. I don’t know about comparing Fitzgerald to d’Arnaud. I do know that d’Arnaud was the center piece in two trades involving CY YOUNG winning pitchers!! So the evidence points to d’Arnaud having a much higher ceiling expectation than Mike Fitzgerald did among the baseball community.
I also did not object to the trade, all I tried to do was to point out that prospects given up by the Mets for Gary Carter (RIP) were not future HOF or even an all-star (with the exception of Brooks) . And that Frank Cashen (RIP) was a brilliant GM.