Trading Tulowitzki to Mets is a Win-Win


Not at all lost amidst the Mets strong start to the 2015 season is inconsistent play from Wilmer Flores. Wilmer has been good with the bat, but his nine errors in the field are second only to the enigmatic Ian Desmond. As the Mets inch closer and closer to legitimate title contention, it is becoming more apparent every day that this team needs a viable shortstop. Matt Reynolds may be able to out-field Flores, but still short is not his natural position and he will likely offer decreased production at the plate. Troy Tulowitzki, offensively and defensively, would represent a huge upgrade for the Mets and would be worth the cost in terms of salary and prospects.

Consider the possibility of the post-trade infield. Daniel Murphy could stay at third until Wright returns, Tulo would slot in at short, Flores could move to second, Duda would anchor first, and Plawecki would grace the tools of ignorance before moving to the bench after Travis d’Arnaud rehabs.

If each player performs to their potential, the Mets would have five legitimate major league ballplayers at each infield position. There would be no significant weaknesses, defensively or offensively, and I would not be surprised if each position provided the offense with at least 20 home runs.

But we all know already the strength of Tulo’s bat. The real questions regard his health, contract, and his cost to the Mets farm system. Still, I think the tantalizing infield potential Tulo brings more than outweighs his flaws.

In a recent article for ESPN insiders, Jim Bowden proposed the Amazin’s deal Steven Matz, Kevin Plawecki, and Rafael Montero for Tulo, but I don’t think the Mets would pull the trade on such a deal. Few catchers are durable enough to outlast a full season, and d’Arnaud has a checkered injury past.

Apr 10, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (2) celebrates the win over the Chicago Cubs at Coors Field. The Rockies defeated the Cubs 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Thus, if I were the Mets, I would try to convince the Rockies to take Dilson Herrera instead of Plawecki. That may not work straight up though, as catcher is a premium position while second base is not, so let’s say the Mets’ add Double-A RHP Gabriel Ynoa to the deal.

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Here’s my proposal, in its full form. Mets get: Troy Tulowitzki, 25MM (to aid salary issues). Rockies get: Matz, Montero, Herrera, Ynoa.

That’s quite a large haul for Colorado. They get a potential ace in Matz and rotation piece in Montero. Herera will succeed in the thin air at Coors Ynoa and as the closest one can get to a Rafael Montero prototype, Ynoa adds intrigue with the chance to develop into a number three of four starter a couple years down the road. Pitching is Colorado’s biggest need. And with this deal, the Rockies  add three young pitching prospects to their arsenal as well as a promising second baseman to offset the loss of Tulowitzki.

On the Mets side, the rationale behind making this trade is clear. They get arguably best shortstop in the game for four players who have not proven themselves at the major league level. Matz has dominated in Vegas, but he has struggled with his control and has already gone through Tommy John Surgery. That’s not to say I don’t think he will be an excellent pitcher, but he is far from a determined quantity at this point. Montero may have a future as a starter, but the Mets have treated him as a swing man thus far: New York has more talented options than Montero both in the ‘pen and in the rotation. He will not be missed. Herrera could develop into an all-star soon enough, but with Matt Reynolds and Wilmer Flores, the Mets currently have enough depth to sustain his loss. Ynoa has showed promise with a steady ascent through the system, but he is probably a major league relief pitcher unless he can refine his off-speed pitches.

I understand that it is difficult to fathom trading the Mets’ top young talent for a ballplayer whose best days might be behind him. But remember, Mets playoff hopes are already hinged to David Wright, a player of very much a similar mold as Tulo. Wright is not getting any younger at 32; it makes sense to try to surround him with as much win-now talent as possible. Furthermore, Tulo will not be unplayable in the final year of his deal. Derek Jeter (2009) and Jimmie Rollins (2014), .871 and .717 OPS, respectively, both have proven that 35-year-olds can still be strong contributors in a starting role.

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In short, Tulowitzki would be the perfect player to push the Mets over the top. He certainly comes with question marks, but if he was a perfect player the Mets would have no chance of acquiring him.

Trading a blue-chip lefty like Matz is a tough pill to swallow, especially when accompanied by other top prospects, but you have to give to get. Tulo is a great player right now and he has proven to be a major league all-star when healthy.

I am not interested in gambling another half-season on an inexperienced and out-of-place shortstop like Flores or Reynolds or waiting for Gavin Cecchini and Amed Rosario to develop.

The rotation is undoubtedly one of the best in baseball, but the current infield and lineup structure leave a lot to be desired. By trading for Tulo, the Mets could shift Flores to second and sport an elite infield offensive and solid defense group. And even after relinquishing Matz, Montero, and Ynoa, the Mets can still sport an insane Harvey/deGrom/Wheeler/Syndergaard/Niese rotation with Gee and Bowman as back-ups in 2016.

The Mets are ready to contend this season. The future is now for the New York Mets. David Wright isn’t getting any younger, but the shortstop situation keeps getting worse day by day. Is it Tulo time?