Could the Cards have landed Tulo?

The St. Louis Cardinals have been rumored to be in on Troy Tulowitzki talks on numerous occasions. If they were serious about getting Troy Tulowitzki, they must now talk to the Toronto Blue Jays. Here is the entirety of the trade sending Tulo north of the border, with analysis.

Blue Jays get:

SS Troy Tulowitzki

RP LaTroy Hawkins

Tulowitzki has played 8 full and 2 partial seasons in the major leagues. In the 8 full seasons, he has averaged just 117 games played per season - that is the knock on him...and quite possibly the ONLY knock on him. In those 117 games per season, Tulo has averaged 4.225 fWAR. If you extrapolate that out to a 150 game season - typical of a short stop - that's a player worth over 5.4 wins to his team all by himself. Considering he's likely playing hurt as well at some could be upwards of a 6 win player. There are not many of those around. How few? Out of the 11,546 individual player seasons with at least 200 PA (approximately Tulo's lowest season), exactly 411 of them (or 3.56% of them) have hit 6.0 fWAR or higher. Not only does Tulo give you great offense and defense, but he does it at one of the two hardest positions on the field, shortstop. He's ridiculously valuable, when actually on the field.

LaTroy Hawkins is 4,317 years old or so...ok so he's only 42. He's in his 21st season and is completely rocking it, but has only thrown 22 1/3 innings thus far. He'll be a good piece in the pen for the Jays as well.

Rockies get:

SS Jose Reyes

P prospect Jeff Hoffman

RP Miguel Castro

P prospect Jesus Tinoco

Jose Reyes is the current heir apparent to Tulowitzki at this point in Colorado. He's another oft injured short stop who is making more money in the short term, but a LOT less money in the long term - like $50M less long-term. Reyes also averages around 120 games per season and per 150 games is worth around 4.1 fWAR. So, he's basically just over a win worse than Tulowitzki. As was pointed out by Dave Cameron over at Fangraphs, the Blue Jays upgraded a strength with this trade. It was already a serious strength, but now it's a "we have the best SS in the game" strength. The Rockies get a guy who is not as huge a fall off as trading Tulo could have been + more. What more?

Pitching prospect Jeff Hoffman is the centerpiece of this deal going back to the Rockies. The Rockies have been long rumored to be asking for a potential #1 starter. This is it. Jeff Hoffman's pitch grades over at Fangraphs, on the 20-80 scouting scale, have him with a potential 75 fastball, 65 curveball, and 55 change up with 50+ command. Baseball Prospectus had him as the #73 prospect pre-season and had him as the #87 prospect all of baseball. All he's done since those ratings is go out this year and start 13 games, going 67 2/3 innings (5.21 IP/start) with a 1.256 WHIP and 2.71 K:BB and a 2.93 ERA in 11 games in the Florida State League (High A) and 2 games in the Eastern League (AA). Oh yeah, and he's done it while being a year younger than the High A league average and 2.7 years younger than the AA league average.

While relief pitcher Miguel Castro has not been greatly successful yet at the major league level, he is only 20 years old - placing him 7 years younger than league average at AAA this season. It seems as though he's been bounced around this year from the starting rotation to the bullpen from High A to AAA to the majors. The last two seasons were slightly more consistent. At 18, he pitched in both foreign rookie ball and rookie ball, amassing 70 innings nearly all while starting. He had an 11.3 K/9 and only 1.8 BB/9. He had a 1.54 ERA and 0.943 WHIP. At 19, last year, he pitched at three levels of A ball, with similar success. Mostly starting, he threw 80 1/3 innings with 8.7 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 - not quite as good there - but with an ERA still under 2.7 and a WHIP still under 1.00. He could still be quite a good starter (I'm thinking a #2/3) if he's allowed to be brought at a pace more suitable for where he is as a prospect. Remember, he was not state-side until just under 2 years ago and Toronto already had him in the majors.

Rounding out the trade is pitching prospect Jesus Tinoco. He is also just 20 years old and is having his best season in the minors thus far. He's 2 years younger than the A ball Midwest League in which he currently is located. While his 2-6 record looks quite iffy, his 3.54 ERA is the best of his career, his 1.352 WHIP is the second best of his career, his 5.42 IP/start is the best of his career, his 100% start rate is the best of his career, his 81 1/3 innings is the best of his career, his 2.4 BB/9 is the best of his career, his 3.09 K:BB is the best of his career, and his 2.76 FIP is quite nice. He is a long ways away, but could be quite the pitching prospect as well.

So could the Cardinals have matched that type of deal? They damn well could have. Would they have wanted to? Probably not. Neither Troy Tulowitzki nor Jose Reyes have been nearly as effective as Jhonny Peralta of late.

Last Calendar Year:

Peralta - 4.1 fWAR

Reyes - 2.3 fWAR

Tulo - 1.2 fWAR

If you extend that time frame, you see that while Tulo is an improvement, he's not as much so to the Cardinals as he will be to the Blue Jays.

Last 2 Calendar Years:

Tulo - 8.4 fWAR

Peralta - 7.8 fWAR

Reyes - 5.0 fWAR

Last 3 Calendar Years:

Tulo - 11.8 fWAR

Peralta - 11.3 fWAR

Reyes - 8.8 fWAR

Just to make it look slightly more palatable, let's say that the Cardinals don't ask for LaTroy Hawkins as well - since they just got Steve Cishek. Let's say Hawkins cost the Blue Jays Tinoco. Who would the Cardinals have that are similar to Hoffman and Castro?

Well, Alex Reyes is one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. He was ranked higher than Hoffman (in the 50s by both publications). Giving up Reyes, who is 20 years old, seems like a high price to me considering they'd already be giving up a better player than Reyes. Maybe you give up Sam Tuivailala also and get both Tulo and Hawkins for only those 3. I don't know if I do that if I'm the Cardinals. Peralta has been great in STL - the promise of Tulo is enticing, however.

Interesting deal and also interesting to think if the Cards could have landed the best SS on the planet.