Troy Tulowitzki is one of the greatest players to ever put on a Colorado Rockies uniform. Granted, the Rockies have only been around for just over two decades, but we’re talking about arguably the league’s best shortstop over the past several years. Dating back to the 2010 season, Tulo leads all MLB shortstops in home runs (128), batting average (.306) OPS (.909), wRC+ (133), and fWAR (25.0).
Sadly, Colorado utterly failed to field a winning team behind the perennial All-Star and Tulo for his part often struggled to stay healthy, only averaging around 108 games per year since 2010. That’s why, as the Rockies started focusing more on developing prospects and third baseman Nolan Arenado emerged as the new face of the franchise, it was widely speculated that they would undergo a massive rebuild that would start with the trade of Tulowitzki.
Yet as 2014 turned into 2015 and a new season got underway, the Tulo trade rumors never gained serious traction. Eventually, the Rockies ownership and front office met with their star shortstop early that year to reassure him that he probably wasn’t going to be traded that year – and on the off chance he was, they would ask for his blessing first.
On July 27, 2015, Tulowitzki was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Virtually the entire baseball world was completely blindsided by the move, but more importantly, so was Tulo. He felt shellshocked and betrayed when he was pulled out of that evening’s game against the Chicago Cubs and told he was no longer a member of the Rockies. Tulowitzki had heard nothing of a potential deal that would send him north of the border until he was sitting in the dugout at Wrigley Field with the trade already completed. The Rockies had failed to make good on their promises to keep him in the loop, and the shortstop took it hard. Even as his new team streaked to the top of the AL East standings and eventually reached the ALCS, Tulowitzki had a tough time transitioning to Toronto after such an abrupt departure from the organization that he had spent over a decade with.
FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal admitted in a recent column that he had wondered whether Tulo would ever get over the circumstances of the trade.
(Tulowitzki), instead of savoring his first playoff appearance since 2009, dwelled upon getting blind-sided by his trade from the Rockies to the Blue Jays and admits now he was “still bitter” about it.
He talked openly about that bitterness, talked about how the Rockies promised to keep him in the loop and “man, that was the furthest from the truth.”
Tulo has actually adjusted to the Blue Jays just fine, thanks in no small part to the open arms of the franchise and their fans as well as reigning American League MVP Josh Donaldson. Later in that same column, Rosenthal says that Jays third baseman called Tulowitzki several times a week, strengthening a bond between what might be the best left infield in baseball. Make no mistake, though, he’s not repairing his relationship with the Rockies anytime soon, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today:
“I’ll never talk to him, never talk to those people,” Tulowitzki told USA TODAY Sports. “You get lied to, straight to your face, you get upset. I believe in forgiveness, but at the same time, I don’t plan on being friendly with them, or anything like that.’’ The last time he talked to Rockies GM Jeff Bridich was the evening of July 27. Tulowitzki was sitting with Walt Weiss in the visiting manager’s office at Wrigley Field, and he was screaming at him, after being notified he had just been traded to Toronto.
This can’t be a good sign for Rockies fans. We’ve seen many great players with bitterness towards organizations that have traded them in the past, such as recent Hall of Fame inductee Mike Piazza and the Los Angeles Dodgers. It takes decades to resolve these types of issues, if they get resolved at all. The Rockies should have absolutely tried to do a better job of at least keeping Tulowitzki updated on their latest trade talks regarding him – not because a team is obligated to share trade rumors with their superstar, but because they promised to not trade Tulo without his permission. It sets a bad precedent on a number of levels. Not only do Rockies fans have to watch one of the best players in franchise history at odds with their team indefinitely, but now it will be really hard to sell stability and security to free agents after this very public breach of trust with Tulowitzki.
Oh, and remember how that trade was supposed to kickstart a massive rebuild by Colorado? Yeah, that rebuild never happened.
The Rockies do have a really good minor league system, and that includes a couple of highly touted shortstop prospects in Trevor Story and Brendan Rodgers. That also includes Jeff Hoffman, the minor-league ace that was the main return from the Blue Jays in the Tulo trade. Yet Colorado has yet to fully move on from their existing major-league core (or what’s left of it) and rebuild around their young guys.
Carlos Gonzalez, the Rockies’ other injury-prone slugger, somehow remains on the team. The 32-year-old outfielder is slated to make $37 million in the next two seasons. Charlie Blackmon is also still a member of the Rockies. Gerardo Parra was awarded a three-year, $27.5 million dollar contract to effectively replace Corey Dickerson, who was shipped off to the Rays in exchange for relief pitcher Jake McGee. McGee bolsters the back end of the Rockies’ bullpen, which is about the last thing that needs bolstering if you’re a team that just traded the most valuable member of its aging veteran core in order to clear space to get playing time for up-and-coming prospects.
Then there’s the matter of Jose Reyes, the Rockies’ current stopgap at shortstop. He’s currently awaiting trial for a nasty domestic abuse incident over the offseason in which his wife was hospitalized withs several cuts and bruises. Reyes also came over from the Tulowitzki trade. The Rockies can’t be faulted for Reyes’ despicable actions, but it’s not a good look either way.
So now the Rockies are stuck with a gaping hole at shortstop, a wasted opportunity to rebuild, and one of their greatest players ever now quite possibly their biggest critic. No matter what their ownership and front office has deluded themselves into thinking, the only thing they’ll be competing for next season is last place the NL West. Much of this could have been avoided if only they had done a better job of handling the circumstances before, during, and/or after the Troy Tulowitzki trade. Now, however, the Rockies don’t seem like they’ll be a contending team for a long time. And when they eventually are again, don’t expect the man affectionately known to thousands of Rockies fans as “Tulo” to join other Colorado baseball greats in rooting on their former team.