DENVER (CBSNewYork/AP) — This changes everything.
After all that speculation the past couple of years, the Colorado Rockies finally traded Troy Tulowitzki. And no, he’s not going to the New York Mets, as had been long-rumored. Instead, Tulo is headed north of the border to a team loaded with bats.
Tulowitzki was sent to the Toronto Blue Jays for Jose Reyes and three pitching prospects late Monday night in a stunning swap of star shortstops, the teams confirmed on Tuesday.
In addition to Tulowitzki, the Rockies sent 42-year-old reliever LaTroy Hawkins to the Blue Jays.
Along with Reyes, the Rockies picked up rookie reliever Miguel Castro and two minor league pitchers in a blockbuster transaction — the biggest yet in the days leading up to Friday’s trade deadline.
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 helped the Rockies reach the World Series as a rookie in 2007.
Tulowitzki was replaced on defense in the bottom of the ninth inning during Colorado’s 9-8 loss to the Cubs in Chicago on Monday night. After the game, the slugger spent at least 30 minutes in manager Walt Weiss’ office at Wrigley Field, but was unavailable to reporters.
The deal gives Toronto (50-50) another powerful, right-handed bat in a dangerous lineup that includes Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion and Russell Martin. The Blue Jays, by far the highest-scoring team in the majors, sit three games behind Minnesota in the race for the second AL wild card.
They are tied for second place in the AL East, seven games back of the New York Yankees. Toronto has not reached the playoffs since winning the 1993 World Series — the longest drought of any major league team.
Donaldson bid farewell to Reyes on his Twitter account: “Going to miss my boy. … Once a brother always a brother.”
Reyes is batting .285 with four homers, 34 RBIs and 16 steals in 69 games. He was acquired by Toronto in a November 2012 trade with Miami.
The face of Colorado’s franchise, the 30-year-old Tulowitzki has spent his entire career with the Rockies (42-55) but has been the subject of trade talk for some time. Still, the Blue Jays seemed an unlikely destination.
“Tremendous player,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said in San Francisco. “Sometimes you’re surprised when you have a guy like Tulo who’s so iconic in Colorado.”
Tulowitzki didn’t want to be traded to the Mets, according to Yahoo Sports.
Before the 2011 season, Colorado made a big commitment to Tulowitzki by agreeing to a contract that guaranteed him $132 million over seven seasons from 2014-20. The deal included a $14 million team option for 2021 with a $4 million buyout.
Combined with his previous deal, it meant the Rockies agreed to pay Tulowitzki $157.75 million over 10 years. The plan was to build around him and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, who signed an $80 million, seven-year contract around the same time.
With the Tulowitzki trade, Gonzalez might be next — especially considering how hot he’s been at the plate lately after an injury-riddled 2014 season.
The speedy Reyes is signed through 2017 on a $106 million, six-year contract he received from Miami.
A four-time All-Star with the Mets, Reyes also has struggled with injuries throughout his career.
Hawkins is 2-1 with a 3.63 ERA in 24 games and is headed to his 11th major league team.
There’s no doubting the hitting prowess of the 6-foot-3 Tulowitzki. Staying healthy has been his biggest challenge. During his career, he’s had stints on the disabled list for a quadriceps tendon tear, lacerated right hand, broken left wrist and a groin injury.
Last season, Tulowitzki played only 91 games before undergoing hip surgery.
This year, he’s been injury-free, with Weiss resting him on occasion to save wear and tear. Tulowitzki was out of the lineup Sunday, which would’ve been his last appearance at Coors Field in a Rockies uniform.
Asked about Friday’s non-waiver trade deadline before leaving town, Tulowitzki responded: “I don’t worry about it. I’ve been through it multiple times. My job is to play for the Rockies. I signed up to play here for a long time. Until they tell me differently, which they haven’t, I plan on being here.”
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