Athletics Should Trade for Troy Tulowitzki

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Jul 9, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (2) hits a solo home run during the eighth inning against the San Diego Padres at Coors Field. The Rockies won 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Going into the offseason, it’s clear that one of the biggest needs that the Athletics need to address is their lack of a shortstop, specifically the lack of offense from their middle infield. As I wrote earlier, offering Jed Lowrie a qualifying offer is probably their best move. However if that doesn’t work out, Billy Beane could try to make another one of his big splash trades.

Troy Tulowitzki is, when healthy, one of the best shortstops in baseball. His career slash line of .299/.373/.517 is excellent offensive production from the shortstop position. Combine that with his solid glove (1.2 dWAR for each of the last two seasons) and he’s a superstar.

The big problem is his health, as he has played in just 264 games over the past three seasons. Also, he is under contract through the 2020 season with an option for 2021. Does it make sense to trade for an injury-prone player who is under contract for the next six seasons?

I would say so. First, consider that he’s just 30 years old, in the prime of his career, coming off of a season where he averaged a home run per 15 at bats. Granted, a significant amount of his home runs can be attributed to the Coors Field factor, but 29 percent of all of the balls he put in play were line drives. If he’s hitting balls hard into the gap instead of over the fence, I’m okay with that.

Also, his injury history may not be as scary as it initially seems. Consider that the Rockies were a losing team that was never really in contention for the past three years. Couple that with the fact that Tulowitzki didn’t play in the second half of either 2012 or 2014, and we can see a pattern. The Rockies did not want to rush their young superstar back into action too early, to avoid creating a long-term injury. While he was definitely hurt, he may have been able to make a quicker comeback if his team was in contention.

Look at Josh Donaldson last year. He was clearly playing through multiple injuries in September, but his team needed him since they were fighting for a playoff spot. If Josh Donaldson was playing on the Rockies, I wouldn’t blame the team for benching him down the stretch to let him heal up.

Tulowitzki would also have the advantage of the DH spot in the American League. The DH could allow him to come back from a potential injury much earlier, and provide a significant boost to the offense. Look at how Coco Crisp has benefited from playing on an AL team. He would probably play in 15 or 20 fewer games per year if he was in the National League.

Now it comes down to if this blockbuster trade could actually happen. From the Rockies perspective, they may be in a selling mood this offseason and go into full-rebuild mode. Their only two big contracts are Tulowtizki and Gonzalez, and they may be willing to eat a little salary if they get a solid prospect return for either of them.

From the A’s perspective, they’re not known for taking on big contracts (Tulowitzki is owed $20 million for each of the next five years), but they would be able to offer an excellent prospect package frontlined by Daniel Robertson. If the A’s add in either Matt Olson or Renato Nuñez the Rockies may be more willing to eat some of Tulowitzki’s remaining salary.

Also, trading for Tulowitzki would be a homecoming for the Bay Area native. And infinte cool points for this from Mark Purdy’s 2011 column from the San Jose Mercury News:

"Last winter when he was honored at a Hot Stove Banquet in San Jose, a grade-schooler during a question-and-answer session wondered if Tulowitzki ever wished he could play for the Giants. Tulowitzki said no, because he grew up as an A’s fan, and so he didn’t like the Giants at all — and as a Rockies player, he now wanted to beat them every chance he could."

It’s definitely a long shot, but if the Athletics want to contend in 2015, Lew Wolff is going to need to open his checkbook more than he’s done before.

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