New York Post columnist Joel Sherman reported that Mets officials have asked to be part of any trade talks involving Carlos Gonzalez or Troy Tulowitzki, should the Colorado Rockies make either player available.
Assuming there’s something to this report besides a desire to drum up website traffic, this is very interesting.
The Mets have lowered their Opening Day payroll from $142.8 million in 2011 to $94.5 million in 2012, $93.7 million in 2013 and $85 million this year. They have $54 million already committed to four players in 2015, plus nine arbitration-eligible players including All-Star Daniel Murphy and closer Jenrry Mejia.
Tulowitzki is signed for five more years at more than $100 million, and Gonzalez has three more years remaining at $53 million. Adding one or both to the Mets’ payroll would show a willingness to spend that hasn’t really been demonstrated since they signed Jason Bay.
It would also signal that the Mets are finally ready to surround David Wright with quality players in an attempt to win now, rather than focusing on the farm system and a future that always seems just around the corner.
(Of course, it could also be smoke and mirrors – remember the Mets’ supposed interest in signing Michael Bourn in 2013, if only the Commissioner’s Office would rule to protect their first round draft pick, or all the talk about Shin-Soo Choo coming to New York that we heard last September?)
But let’s take the report at face value. It’s an encouraging sign – it’s been 14 years since the Mets’ last World Series appearance and 28 years since their last championship – it’s time for the future to start now.
Are Tulowitzki and Gonzalez the right guys, though? Both have significant injury concerns – Tulowitzki has played at least 140 games in just three of his last seven full years. Gonzalez has accomplished the feat once in four full years in the majors.
Tulowitzki, one of the best players in baseball, might just be worth the gamble – he will probably see his career line of .299 / .373 /.517 drop if he leaves Coors Field, but Tulowitzki has hit .274 / .349 / .469 for his career on the road.
Gonzalez is only going to hit like an MVP candidate in Denver. His career splits: .329 / .387 / .599 at home, .260 / .316 / .442 on the road.
Now let’s imagine what it might take to land the two Rockies’ stars. I would guess that you start with a trade package built around Jonathon Niese and Zack Wheeler, with two or three top 10 prospects added into the mix. The Rockies need a mix of major league talent and blue chip prospects if they’re going to give up the best players on their team. But that’s a lot to give up for expensive players who get hurt a lot.
Is the cost and risk worthwhile? I wish I had that crystal ball. If Wright and Tulowitzski are riding down the Canyon of Heroes next fall and the Mets are the talk of the town, it’s impossible to argue with success. If not… well, there are days I’m glad I don’t have Sandy Alderson‘s job.