Jays land big fish in short­stop swap

Toronto ac­quires Tu­low­itzki from Colorado for Reyes, prospects

Winnipeg Free Press - Section D - - SPORTS - By John Chidley-Hill

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.

MARK BLINCH / THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

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.

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