As the season draws to a close, Met management may be flicking the occasional glance west toward Denver, home of a team with a similar won/lost record but with notably dissimilar team stats. While the Mets sit in the middle third of the league in both runs scored (10th) and pitching (8th), the Colorado Rockies present a study in contrasts sitting 3rd in the league in scoring but dead last in pitching. Strangely, some of what is being written about the Rockies’ off-season trade targets suggests that they are interested in young position players rather than pitching, but based on their stats this conclusion makes little or no sense to me. Accordingly, they seem a logical trade partner for the Mets, a team with a wealth of pitching prospects.
The Rocks have had an asset the Mets have reportedly lusted after for some time in the person of one Carlos Gonzalez, the oft-mentioned “slugging outfielder” that fans have longed for to fill a corner position. But to ratchet up the level of wishful thinking even higher on this trade fantasy, indications are that shortstop Troy Tulowitzki could be had for the right price as well. With the New York squad apparently considering an import at short as well as the outfield, are the ingredients for a mile-high blockbuster in place?
From a business perspective, this would represent a big leap back into the high salary pool for the team as Tulo is now entering the megabucks part of a contract that runs through the 2020 season (with a team option for 2021). After pulling down $10 million this season at age 28, his compensation is set to rise to $16 million next year and then to a cool $20 million per for the following five seasons. His pay then drops to $14 mil in his walk year but with a team $15 million option for the next season with a $4 million buyout. At a price of at least $134 million for the next seven years it’s not exactly chickenfeed, but not unlike the kinds of contracts common with other big market teams. The 27-year old Cargo carries with him a somewhat less burdensome pay package as he is scheduled to pull down $63.5 million over the next 4 years.
Outside of the expense, the biggest concern with these two is their health issues. Both have missed a fair amount of action in the last few years, particularly Tulo who appeared in only 47 games in 2012 after groin surgery ended his season early. Having suffered a broken wrist in 2010 and a fractured rib this year, one couldn’t accuse him of dogging it, but “injury-prone” is still not a descriptor that gets anyone excited.
Gonzalez will likely require surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right middle finger this winter and has missed time in the past with a wrist injury. As players age, they generally don’t recover as quickly, so keeping these guys on the field enough to justify their contracts would be a challenge that any team dealing for them would have to accept.
So, a couple of major concerns right off the bat. Still, what a couple of bats! Cargo boasts a batting championship (2010) and a couple of Gold Gloves to go with a Silver Slugger award while Tulo checks in with a pair each of Silver Sluggers and Gold Gloves. Cargo’s left-handed sock would fill the space neatly between the righty bats of Wright and Tulo in the lineup that has already started appearing in my fevered mind. In Cargo, the Mets would add the type of all-around threat that outfield has lacked since the departure of Carlos Beltran.
With Tulo they would also add their own Jeteresque presence to the infield, an offensive force at short the like of which has never seen steady duty in a Met uniform. Would their numbers translate from the rarefied air of Coors Field to the somewhat pitcher-friendly confines of Citi Field? Possibly, albeit with a likely adjustment downward in power numbers. Of course, Tulo has already demonstrated his ability to launch the ball in Queens during a memorable four game series sweep in April of 2011 where he went 10-for-16 and homered in each game.
Now, assuming management and ownership would be willing to pony up the considerable scratch to assume their contracts, the next question would focus on what would need to be sent in the other direction to convince the Rocks to make the deal. Given the dearth of effective pitching currently on the Colorado staff, you could probably put any number of packages together that would feature a combination of veteran and up-and-coming arms, but here is where one upside to Matt Harvey’s troublesome UCL makes itself known: while it is virtually impossible that the Mets could have been persuaded to include their young stud in any deal, his arm concerns now make the matter a moot point.
Potential trade partners will more likely focus on the two most prominent system arms – Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard – but it is likely that the Rockies will look for a proven youngish veteran along the lines of Dillon Gee or Jonathan Niese. Expect a bat to go as well, with the most likely being Daniel Murphy (who has been “dealt” in so many hypothetical trades at this point that it’s becoming routine to include him) and Ike Davis as Colorado looks to fill the slot vacated by Todd Helton’s retirement.
Could they? Would they? Other organizations have gambled on “big fix” deals recently and the results have not always been pretty. Certainly Toronto’s big swaps with the Marlins and Mets did not produce anything near the results projected during the past off season, but on the other hand, the Dodgers enormous salary/talent grab involving multiple deals and free agent signings appears to have paid off. While a deal of this type is not the sort normally associated with a Sandy Alderson organization, we might see a smaller version of it become reality at least now that a goodly portion of contract money is coming off the books. Anyway, we can always dream, can’t we?
Thoughts from Joe D.
There’s nothing I would want more than to give this roster a heart and brain transplant. As one reader wrote this morning, the faces on this team are becoming a blur. We have no star quality veterans that can pair with what the youth movement we have going on. There’s an excitement for the future, but it’s tempered with the doubts that the money to fill in the gaps won’t be spent.
Adding Tulo would be something else, adding CarGo would be just as incredible, but the Rockies are not gambling either of them for pitching prospects and they want MLB ready bats in return – something the Mets can’t provide. Slumping and low-performing players like Ike Davis and Lucas Duda are more like throw-ins and not players to build a mega-deal around. Dillon Gee will have to produce at this level for another year before teams will be ready to break the bank for him. The point is we don’t match up and would need a third team to get involved if we were to try and go after either of these players.
The tough part here is that almost everyone believes CarGo will be traded and some say if he goes then Tulo will go too. Considering the impact each would make on the Mets, it’s tough facing the realization that we don’t have a chance to deal for either of them at this time.
Maybe if a team like the Tampa Bay Rays, Oakland A’s or Kansas City Royals were to become involved, there’s a chance we can move Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero to them for the pieces to acquire one of CarGo or Tulo. Sending Lucas Duda and Wilmer Flores to Colorado may also be part of the deal.