Early Tuesday morning FOX's Ken Rosenthal broke the news on Twitter: Troy Tulowitzki had been traded. The Colorado Rockies dealt their All-Star shortstop to the Toronto Blue Jays. In the hours since, the complete details of the trade have been revealed. In exchange for Tulowitzski and veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins, the Blue Jays sent the following players to the Rockies:
- Jose Reyes, SS
- Jeff Hoffman, RHP
- Miguel Castro, RHP
- Jesus Tinoco, RHP
The groundwork for this July deal was apparently laid during the Hot Stove, when the two clubs engaged in preliminary discussions regarding Tulowitzki. The talks rekindled "in earnest" three weeks ago according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. It came together during last night's Rockies game, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo!, which caused manager Walt Weiss to pull Tulowitzki from it in the ninth inning.
Tulowitzki has long been tied to the Cardinals in the MLB trade rumor mill. Things came to head during the 2013-14 Hot Stove. The Cards were coming off a 97-win season, National League Pennant, and World Series loss. Their weakest link was shortstop, which had been manned by the light-hitting Pete Kosma and Daniel Descalso. As we wrote about at VEB that winter, the Cardinals engaged the Rockies regarding Tulowitzki, found their asking price too high, and opted to sign free-agent shortstop Jhonny Peralta instead. As Craig tweeted, the decision to sign Peralta rather than trade for Tulowitzki has worked out pretty well for St. Louis:
Troy Tulowitzki: 6.5 WAR since 2014, owed $105 M, contract ends at Age 35. Johnny Peralta: 7.4 WAR, owed $27.5 M, contract ends at Age 35.— Craig Edwards (@craigjedwards) July 28, 2015
St. Louis Post-Dispatch beat writer Derrick Goold was a guest on CBS 920 Tuesday morning. When asked about the Tulo trade, Goold brought up the Cards' interest during the 2013-14 offseason. Host Tim McKernan tweeted the following with respect to Goold's answer:
From @dgoold: The Cardinals had interest in Tulowitzki...but awhile back. Not recently.— Tim McKernan (@tmckernan) July 28, 2015
At his Birdland blog on Tuesday, Goold also put up a good post on the Cardinals' past interest in Tulowitzki.
Later on Tuesday morning, FOX's Jon Morosi dropped the juicy tidbit that according to his sources, the Cardinals touched base with the Rockies regarding Tulowitzki more recently:
#STLCards still looking to add a bat, as evidenced by the Tulo pursuit.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 28, 2015
There is a lot that we do not know about the Cardinals talking to the Rockies about Tulowitzki before the Blue Jays trade was finalized. Front offices touch base with other front offices regarding players all the time—especially in the weeks leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline. They also do so for any number of reasons. Sometimes it's to help a club place a value on one of their players by seeing what another team is demanding for someone similar. Other times, they're performing due diligence. We don't know if the Cardinals and Rockies engaged in trade negotiations in earnest or if St. Louis was just touching base.
Nonetheless, this does indicate that general manager John Mozeliak was not afraid to potentially get creative with a lineup upgrade. The Cardinals were thinking outside the box. Unless St. Louis was willing to deal Peralta (which seems unlikely) in a trade similar in structure to what Toronto ultimately agreed to with Colorado, the Cardinals were willing to at least explore reshuffling their infield in order to upgrade at first base. The scenario Morosi puts forth seems the most plausible, but perhaps Tulo would have been installed at third, shifting Matt Carpenter to first.
All of that is moot now. Obviously the deal did not come together. In fact, it looks like negotiations did not even get off the ground. And so the Cardinals will have to upgrade another way if they elect to make a pre-non-waiver deadline trade at all.