Jays land big fish in shortstop swap
Toronto acquires Tulowitzki from Colorado for Reyes, prospects
TORONTO Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos couldn’t miss the chance to get one of the top shortstops in baseball, even at the cost of more prospects.
Anthopoulos acquired shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and reliever LaTroy Hawkins in a trade Tuesday with the Colorado Rockies in exchange for shortstop Jose Reyes, reliever Miguel Castro and minor-league pitchers Jeff Hoffman and Jesus Tinoco.
Castro and Hoffman are considered two of the Blue Jays’ top young players, but Anthopoulos could not pass up the chance to get Tulowitzki.
“We’re getting the best shortstop in baseball in our minds, and those opportunities just don’t present themselves,” said Anthopoulos.
Talks between the Blue Jays and Rockies began last off-season, with Toronto pursuing Tulowitzki. According to Anthopoulos, Colorado’s counter-offers always included Hoffman and the deal got done when the Blue Jays agreed to his inclusion late Monday night.
“You always like to keep your prospects if you can, but, again, if you have opportunities to get guys that you think are great fits we’re obviously willing to do that,” said Anthopoulos.
“Ideally you hang on to them, but you also realize you’re not going to get guys for free.
“We don’t have a cut and dry policy, we’d like to keep as many as we can, but that’s the cost of acquiring players.”
Hoffman and Castro join a long list of prospects Anthopoulos has traded for proven veterans. Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud and Adeiny Hechavarria have also been shipped to other teams for more-experienced players.
The talented, but oft-injured, Tulowitzki is a five-time all-star who is hitting .300 with 12 homers and 53 RBIs in 87 games this season. He has spent his entire 10-year MLB career with Colorado.
The 30-year-old Tulowitzki gives Toronto (50-51 after a 3-2 loss Tuesday night to the Philadelphia Phillies) another powerful, right-handed bat in a dangerous lineup that already includes Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion and Russell Martin. (Bau- tista, however, pulled up lame Tuesday while running out a groundball to first in the eighth inning.)
Toronto’s commitment to Tulowitzki is significant, and not just in the assets lost. Tulowitzki is in the second year of a seven-year deal worth a guaranteed US$132 million.
“We’re always focused on the short and the long-term and we felt that an acquisition like this would address both,” Anthopoulos said. He also pointed out although Hawkins plans to retire at the end of the 2015 season, he’ll help the Blue Jays’ beleaguered bullpen as the team makes a push for the post-season.
“We’re a very strong offensive club. We’re (near) .500 but we’re not that many games away from the wild card,” said Anthopoulos. “I think the fact that we play the Yankees as many times as we do... puts us in a position to contend.”
Tulowitzki was not active for Toronto’s home game Tuesday against Philadelphia, as the Blue Jays gave him time to resettle his family.
“It’s always good to be in a place where you’re in playoff contention,” said Hawkins, who pitched a scoreless sixth inning Tuesday.
“We weren’t that in Colorado so this is definitely an upgrade. I’m excited to be playing some meaningful baseball in August, September and hopefully October.”
Anthopoulos is still in talks to add a pitcher, preferably a starter, before Friday’s 4 p.m. ET trade deadline. But if it takes longer than that, he’ll try to make moves through waiver trades in the next month.
Staying healthy has been Tulowitzki’s biggest challenge with stints on the disabled list for a quadriceps tendon tear, lacerated right hand, broken left wrist and a groin injury over the course of his career.
Last season, Tulowitzki played 91 games before undergoing hip surgery. He’s been injury free this year with Rockies manager Walt Weiss resting him on occasion to save wear and tear.
Reyes has four home runs and 34 RBIs to go along with a .285 average in 69 games this year. He was acquired by Toronto in a 2012 blockbuster trade with the Miami Marlins.
The speedy Reyes is signed through 2017 on a US$106-million, six-year contract he received from Miami. A fourtime all-star with the New York Mets, Reyes also has struggled with injuries throughout his career.
The 42-year-old Hawkins is 2-1 with a 3.63 ERA in 24 games.
Veteran shortstop Jose Reyes spent twoplus seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays,
hitting .289, with 188 runs scored and 61 stolen bases in 305 games.