Thursday, July 23, 2015

Tulo The Twin

The Minnesota Twins came into 2015 with expectations of a .500 season seeming doable, even despite the national types tabbing them for a last place finish in the AL Central. Now in the midst of a playoff race, the Twins find themselves shopping at the trade deadline. With Danny Santana playing anything but a capable shortstop, and internal options proving thing, Minnesota is kicking the tires on Troy Tulowitzki.

It really isn't at all like the Twins to make deadline deals, and even more so for them to go after such high profile players. With Tulo wanting out of Colorado though, and the Twins needing to fill the void that Cristian Guzman left at short so many years ago, the fit is at least sensible on the surface.

From there, things go downhill, and fast. I may be one of the biggest fans of Tulowitzki the player, but getting him to the Twins looks disastrous on multiple fronts. First and foremost, the acquisition cost. Colorado apparently is interested in Kyle Gibson.

A 27 year old with four years of team control left, and not arbitration eligible until 2017, Gibson has plenty to offer as a trade chip. He's been one of the Twins best starters (if not the best) and his 3.19 ERA and 6.4 K/9 are nice steps forward in his development. The Rockies see an ideal fit in Gibson as he's a sinkerballer that is inducing a career high 55% ground ball rate. Allowing just 27% of pitches to be hit hard, Gibson would see success in the otherwise difficult to handle Coors Field.

As good as Gibson has been and projects to continue to be, he alone wouldn't be enough for the Rockies either. For a talent like Tulowitzki, Colorado would be seeking multiple top tier prospects as well. With Minnesota surprisingly competing ahead of its window, fleecing the farm doesn't seem intelligent.

The next hurdle is what you can expect from Tulowitzki. He has played an average of 88 games the last three years and is now on the wrong side of 30. Despite being a perennial All-Star and consistent MVP candidate, expecting him to stay healthy is far from the norm. Dealing for a piece with the intention of fixing a problem area in the organization only to have that player sit on the DL isn't going to do anything for Minnesota.

Then there's the change of location. In his career, Tulo's home and away splits are telling. He's a .322/.395/.560 hitter at Coors Field, while slashing just .277/.349/.469 on the road. Factor in that Target Field is probably the furthest thing from the hitter friendly Coors Field, and the drop in production could be substantial. Balls simply don't fly out of downtown Minneapolis like they do in the Mile High City, and that isn't going to help a guy who hasn't gotten back to 30 home runs since 2011.

Rounding out the laundry list of negatives is the stack of cash the Rockies superstar still has coming to him. Colorado would almost assuredly need to throw in money in return for the prospects they covet in return. Tulowitzki is owed $20 million a year through 2019, before his salary drops to $14 million as a 35 year old in 2020. He also carries a $15 million team option for his 2021 season.

That kind of cash comes in under the $23 million the Twins currently pay Joe Mauer (who has actually been healthy more than Tulowitzki). Twins fans have consistently bashed Mauer's production relative to his compensation, and while Tulowitzki should no doubt outperform the transplanted catcher, it's anyone's guess as to how many games he contributes each year.

You'd probably be hard pressed to find someone that likes Troy Tulowitzki the baseball player than I do, but for the Twins, the answer has to be no. Going forward with the organization trending back towards winning and competition, adding what could end up being a very expensive corner outfielder long term (or worse), Minnesota would taking a significant (and potentially foolish) risk. Colorado is going to move Tulowitzki before that contract is up, but it doesn't need to be now, and it doesn't need to be the Twins.

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