Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Do The Yankees Have the Stones to Trade For Tulo?

Since the rumors began about a month ago that the Colorado Rockies might just trade their prized shortstop, Troy Tulowitzki, the wheels in my mind have been spinning. Would/could Tulo play for the Yankees and be the heir apparent to his idol, Derek Jeter?

Though the Rockies have denied any interest in dealing the 29-year old, it makes for interesting thought and conversation. The seventh overall pick in the 2005 draft is in the midst of a contract that guarantees him $134MM through 2021, with the possibility of earning an additional $11MM if the Rockies (or whomever) picks up a team option for the 2021 season.

Tulo is scheduled to earn $14MM in 2014, followed by five seasons at $20MM and the final completely guaranteed year at $15MM. The Rockies would have to pick up some of the salary, with the amount directly impacting the players sent in return. The $14MM for 2014 would fight nicely into the Yankees "budget" plans.

The Yankees, at some point, will need a long term solution for Derek Jeter. It could be as soon as this year or the 2015 season. There could be a scenario this season, much as there was last season, where the left side of the infield has no Jeter and no Alex Rodriguez.

Even if Jeter is perfectly healthy, he'll need some extra days off and/or time at DH in 2014. However, Tulo should not be the Yankees shortstop in 2014. Have I confused you yet? You should be able to see where this is going. One year of Troy Tulowitzki, third baseman. You could split his time between shortstop and third base, but that would be a lot to ask of someone that is in a new town, hasn't played one of the positions, etc., and is looking to replace the most popular athlete in New York.

Instead, you have Jeter play shortstop with a Brendan Ryan type backing him up. The goal would be to move Tulowitzki back to full-time shortstop in 2015 with A-Rod or someone else at the hot corner. Jeter, if he still wanted to play, would be relegated to part-time status or more of a utility role. And yes, that's a lot to ask of him, which is why he would probably walk away rather than accept the role.

There are plenty of complications to such a deal. Tulo will not come cheaply, no matter how much money Colorado picked up.  The Yankees would have to part with one of the three outfielders - Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, Tyler Austin; a Major League player - David Phelps?, a top tier pitching prospect, and one of the Yankees catching prospects. That might not even be enough unless the Yankees picked up the bulk of the salary.

This is Jeter's team and the Yankees would be, in essence, starting the post-Jeter era. The St. Louis Cardinals tried to do it with Ozzie Smith and his heir apparent, Royce Clayton, and it proved to be a disaster. Of course Tulowitzki is on a level well above Clayton.

Would Tulowitzki make the temporary position switch to accomodate his idol, the reason that he wears #2 on his uniform?

Injuries..not the Captain's, but Tulo's. The California native has only played in more than 126 games once in the last four seasons.

There's plenty of positives though. A 10 year age difference to the positive. A player whose skills are better than Jeter's right now, both at the plate and in the field. A player that is signed for the next seven seasons. Imagine Robinson Cano and Tulo turning double plays year after year.

Is this all crazy? Of course it is. But, and this but is bigger than Prince Fielder's properly spelled backside, this is what the hot stove is all about. GM's talking, hypothetical trades discussed out, and the possible alteration of a team's future.

I say go for it. Now batting, number 22, Troy..Tulo-witzki.

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