What ramifications will Tulowitzki trade have for Blue Jays?
By Gregor Chisholm
Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos pulled off another shocking trade early Tuesday morning, a deal that brought five-time All-Star Troy Tulowitzki to Toronto in exchange for Jose Reyes and a package of top prospects.
The magnitude of this deal is nothing short of stunning and will cause ripple effects through the Blue Jays' organization -- not only for this season, but also for years to come. Its impact will be felt in many ways, and the trade creates a lot of questions about where Toronto will go from here.
The deal, which was officially announced Tuesday, has Tulowitzki and right-handed reliever LaTroy Hawkins joining the Blue Jays in exchange for Reyes, righty Jeff Hoffman, righty Miguel Castro and righty Jesus Tinoco.
Social media and sports talk radio exploded with the news. As everyone tries to process what just happened, here's a rundown of the top questions most people have been asking.
1. How will this impact the Blue Jays' payroll?
The short-term impact of this deal is almost a wash for Toronto. Tulowitzki is earning $20 million this season and will receive an additional $2 million as part of a trade bonus in his contract. That's the same amount Reyes is owed this year, while Hawkins has approximately $800,000 remaining on a $2.25 million contact.
The payroll will be relatively similar over the next couple of years as well. Tulowitzki is set to make $22 million over each of the next two seasons, while Reyes will also earn $22 million annually. The big financial ramifications won't be felt until 2018 when Reyes is set to come off the books. Tulowitzki is signed to a guaranteed deal through 2020, and he will earn approximately $52 million more than Reyes over the lifetime of the contracts. Russell Martin and Tulowitzki are the only Blue Jays players under contracts with guaranteed deals after 2017.
2. Do the Blue Jays still have enough left to make another deal?
Pitching was a top priority before this trade, and it remains one now with three days to go before Friday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline. There's no question that losing Hoffman, Castro and Tinoco will be a major blow to the club's Minor League system, but there are still some enticing pieces left who could be moved in the right deal.
Left-hander Daniel Norris will be the club's biggest trade chip moving forward, but the club has some other young pitchers in Sean Reid-Foley, Jairo Labourt, Alberto Tirado and Matt Boyd. From a position player perspective, there wasn't a lot of depth to begin with, but outfielder Dalton Pompey, catcher Max Pentecost, outfielder Anthony Alford and slugger Rowdy Tellez should be among those who generate interest.
Gibbons also could instead go with a nontraditional lineup, which is something he has never shied away from in the past. He once used Vernon Wells in the leadoff spot, and he was a major proponent of hitting Bautista second prior to the offseason trade for Donaldson. That approach could at least raise the possibility of starting the lineup with Tulowitzki in the leadoff spot, followed by Donaldson, Bautista and Encarnacion.
4. What does this mean for the Blue Jays' bullpen?
One overlooked aspect of this deal is that it does provide some immediate help for the bullpen as well. Hawkins spent some time on the disabled list earlier this year, but since returning, he has posted a 1.10 ERA over his last 16 1/3 innings. Opponents hit just .196 during that stretch, while he struck out 13 and walked just two.
Hawkins provides a veteran influence to an otherwise inexperienced bullpen. Hawkins saved 23 games last season, and his track record suggests the Blue Jays will have to at least consider him for the closer's role, but a more likely scenario would see those opportunities still go to either Roberto Osuna or Aaron Sanchez. No matter what role Toronto chooses, Hawkins gives the club another option for late in games and will allow Bo Schultz to settle into a role with fewer high-leverage situations.
5. Will Tulowitzki be able to handle the turf? And how significant of an upgrade is he on defense?
Whether or not this trade works out ultimately will come down to Tulowitzki's health. He hasn't appeared in more than 140 games since 2011, and he has dealt with a bad quad, a strained groin, a fractured rib and most recently a hip issue that required surgery in 2014. The Rogers Centre turf isn't going to help, but typically it's more problematic for players who deal with back issues.
Tulowitzki's bat speaks for itself, and it's why he can arguably considered the best shortstop in baseball -- when healthy -- but there will be other benefits to his game as well. Reyes experienced a noticeable drop-off in his range at shortstop, and he even began having trouble with routine plays, as evidenced by his 13 errors. His issues up the middle were a topic of conversation that weren't going away any time soon, and they would have been even more glaring if Toronto gets to play meaningful baseball down the stretch.
The 30-year-old Tulowitzki doesn't come with any of those concerns. He might not be a Gold Glove-caliber shortstop at this stage of his career, but he has solid range and is very steady with the glove. Tulowitzki will make all of the routine plays, and he even has a knack for making highlight reels every now and then with some eye-popping plays. No matter how you look at it, it's a major upgrade defensively and should go a long way in helping Toronto's pitching staff.