by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Updated 7:00 AM EST
No one could’ve been expecting to wake up to this news, as the long rumored Troy Tulowitzki trade has finally come to fruition. His landing spot makes the deal even more shocking, as was dealt to Toronto (not the Mets or one of the other long time rumored suitors). According to Jon Heyman (via Twitter) the full trade is:
Toronto Gets: SS Troy Tulowitzki, RHP Latroy Hawkins
Colorado Gets: SS Jose Reyes, RHP Miguel Castro, RHP Jeff Hoffman, RHP Jose Tinoco
From Toronto’s perspective they add another masher to the lineup, forming a scary quartet with Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista. They are gambling that Tulowitzki can stay healthy, especially playing half his games on turf (though potentially spending time at DH will help), but Encarnacion and Bautista are only signed through 2016 (both have 2016 club options) so Tulowitzki gives them a long-term fixture in the lineup. He’s also an upgrade defensively over Reyes. While it’s adding to a strength, from a long-term franchise outlook it makes sense.
It had long been assumed that they would use their assets to improve their starting pitching, which was seen as their biggest need. However they took advantage of an opportunity to strengthen their lineup long-term and will take their shot at being able to out slug their opponents (and, of course, they could still add a starting pitcher in a separate deal).
How the lineup shakes out remains to be seen, but seeing either Kevin Pillar or Devon Travis moved into the leadoff spot probably makes the most sense. Pillar is carrying just a .306 OBP thanks to a 4.3% walk rate, so he certainly isn’t an ideal choice. Travis is at .360 thanks to a 7.6% walk rate, so he’s probably the one to watch. Dalton Pompey, who’s streaking at Triple-A, could be a dark horse candidate but it’s not like this deal opens up an opportunity for him.
Hawkins adds a solid arm to the bullpen, but not one who should supplant Roberto Osuna or the newly recalled Aaron Sanchez at the backend. He should operate in a setup role while providing veteran leadership and nothing more.
From a Rockies perspective this is just as fascinating. While the obvious benefit is the long-term savings financially, you have to wonder if there’s another shoe to drop. As of right now, while they did get prospects in the deal, swapping Tulowitzki for Reyes does not indicate a full rebuild. The question is going to be if they now turn and flip Reyes to a shortstop needy team, whether it be the San Diego Padres, New York Mets are someone else. Obviously playing in Coors Field will help him, but I wouldn’t bank on him staying there.
If he’s flipped, Trevor Story could become an intriguing fantasy option. Once viewed as a top prospect he’s hit .281 with 16 HR and 15 SB in 345 AB between Double and Triple-A. He does have 93 K, including 20 K in 89 AB at Triple-A, so that will be something to watch. However with 32 doubles and 6 triples, he’d be an intriguing power/speed player if given a shot.
As for the prospects they get back, Castro has the potential to emerge as the Rockies’ closer as soon as this season. He was given a shot at the job early on for the Blue Jays, though he blew 2 of his 6 save chances and struggled with his control (4.38 BB/9). The control issues have continued at Triple-A (12 BB over 18.1 IP), which obviously is concerning, but there’s no questioning the potential. MLB.com had him ranked as the Blue Jays’ #5 prospect saying:
“Castro has gotten stronger since signing and has added velocity to his fastball as a result. He now throws in the mid 90s and can reach 99 mph with the pitch. He commands his fastball well and creates groundballs thanks to its natural life. His changeup is his best secondary offering, while his slider remains a work in progress.”
Hoffman is viewed as the better prospect, ranked #3 in the Blue Jays’ system by MLB.com. The 2014 first round pick (ninth overall) returned from Tommy John surgery this season and has looked good, with a 2.93 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 46 K, 17 BB and a 1.23 GO/AO over 67.2 IP (including three starts at Double-A). MLB.com describes him by saying:
“When healthy, Hoffman stands out for his stuff, size and athleticism. His fastball sits in the mid-90s and regularly reaches 98 mph. His big curveball is nearly as good as his fastball and his changeup gives him a third above-average offering. He fills up the strike zone already and his athleticism gives scouts hope he’ll be able to continue to refine his command as a professional.”
Just to further the stuff, prior to the season Rich Wilson of Prospect 361 noted that Hoffman was a potential first overall pick prior to getting hurt and described his curveball as “double-plus”. That’s promising, but he’ll now have to pitch in Coors Field once he gets a shot (and he’s still a year or two away) which is never a good thing.
Tinoco is definitely the third prospect in the deal. A 20-year RHP Single-A, he owns a 3.54 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 68 K and 22 BB over 81.1 IP. He’s a ways away and we’ll have to see if he continues to develop.
It will be interesting to see what the next move for both teams will be. Is Reyes going to stick in Colorado? Will Toronto still look to add a backend bullpen arm or a starter? It’s certainly going to be a fun few days.
Sources – Fangraphs, Cots Baseball Contracts, MLB.com, Prospect 361, MILB.com
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