About a week ago, a report came from John Harper of the New York Daily News that the Colorado Rockies would be open to trading Carlos Gonzalez and/or Troy Tulowitzki this offseason. The Mets have been linked to CarGo for a while, but the idea of acquiring Tulowitzki was a novel one. The Mets could use both an outfielder or two and a shortstop, and would love to have either Gonzalez or Tulowitzki in their 2014 Opening Day lineup. Would it be wise, however, to make a trade that would no doubt include at least 2 valuable prospects for Tulowitzki? College Sports Town breaks down the players in the possible trade.
Tulowitzki is probably the best shortstop in the league when he is healthy, challenged only by Hanley Ramirez (and that’s pretty much only when Hanley wants to play well). Despite his rib injuries this year, he still has a 5.5 WAR, is second among shortstops in home runs, and is tied for the lead in RBI. He was an All-Star for the third time this year.
There are several problems, however, with Tulowitzki. He is certainly an All-Star talent, but that’s only when he is healthy enough to play. This article from the Denver Post in 2011 tackling the issue of Tulo’s durability noted thatTulowitzki had already been on the disabled list three times. In each of the past seasons, he has had more serious injuries. For a player guaranteed to make $134 million over the next 7 years, that sort of injury history causes concerns.
The Mets already have a risky long term investment in David Wright, so how willing are they to take on another one of those types of contracts? Wright will certainly play into the team’s future one way or another, as will Tulowitzki if he is acquired, but would the team be better off sticking with its prospects?
It seems the only two young players in the Mets organization that are off limits are flamethrowers Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard. Harper suggests the Mets could offer a package of Travis d’Arnaud, Dillon Gee, and Rafael Montero for Tulowitzki. According to Harper, the Rockies want position players, which is not something the Mets have in surplus. That means the Mets would be forced to trade d’Arnaud, the supposed catcher of the future who has struggled at the big league level so far. If the Rockies are able to acquire a player of d’Arnaud’s potential, they might be okay with accepting pitchers as the rest of the players in a potential deal, according to Harper.
But should the Mets give up their future catcher for Tulowitzki? Sure, d’Arnaud has struggled, but he’s only 24, and Tulo is 28. In addition, some would argue it’s more difficult to find a good catcher than a good shortstop, and even if d’Arnaud’s hitting does not come along, he’s been a pretty good defensive catcher thus far.
The Mets would be more reluctant to give up d’Arnaud if they did not have several catching prospects in addition to him- Kevin Plawecki, who is 22 and batted .294 with a .783 OPS in the notoriously pitcher-friendly Florida league, and Juan Centeno, a 23 year old Puerto Rican who made his major league debut several days ago (he went 2-4 with an RBI). Obviously, neither of them have been hyped as much as d’Arnaud, but they both seem to be fairly good players. Having depth at catcher would make the Mets more likely to give up d’Arnaud.
The trade hinges on three ifs: if the Mets are willing to trade d’Arnaud, if the Rockies are willing to accept an offer principally about d’Arnaud, and if the Mets are willing to invest in a talented but flawed player. He could end up being the centerpiece of an offseason in which the Mets transform into a wild-card fringe team like the Kansas City Royals or the Baltimore Orioles.