What's Next for the Blue Jays and Rockies Following the Troy Tulowitzki Trade?
The Toronto Blue Jays have been the best hitting team in baseball this year, and needed to add pitching.
Well, after missing out on Johnny Cueto, who is now a Kansas City Royal, general manager Alex Anthopoulos reacted quickly, acquiring veteran pitcher LaTroy Hawkins from the Colorado Rockies for Jose Reyes and three pitching prospects.
The problem is, Hawkins isn’t the answer to the Jays’ problems. He’s a 42-year-old reliever, not the ace the Jays needed. But as you already know, the other player in this deal was the one Anthopoulos really wanted. The centerpiece, Troy Tulowitzki, will have to provide the same value as a starting pitcher over the home stretch if the Blue Jays want to make this one count.
The Blue Jays didn’t fix their pitching problems by acquiring Hawkins and Tulowitzki. And none of the prospects traded were going to be of much help down the stretch this year, but could have been part of a deal for a starter. Let's take a look at the consequences of the move.
A Murderer's Row to Southpaws
The good news for the Blue Jays -- and what we should still keep in mind -- is the lineup will get better. Even though Toronto already has a great lineup, it can still improve with the addition of Tulowtizki. Below are the 2015 numbers for the nine hitters expected to now make up the Blue Jays' lineup, plus Reyes for comparison's sake.
Even in the midst of a down year by his standards, Tulowitzki still has a .351 wOBA, which is 45 points better than that of Reyes. If we sub in Tulo’s career .381 wOBA, which is Coors-boosted, he would be tied with Donaldson for tops on this year’s team.
Since Tulowitzki has a .410 wOBA against lefties and .370 wOBA against righties, he also makes the Jays even more lethal against southpaws. They already have a league-best wOBA of .362 against left-handed pitching, 26 points better than second-best Detroit. The gain is obviously not as great against righties, since Reyes was pulling his weight against those pitchers.
So we know the Jay’s offense just went from great to even greater, and they ignored their rotation for the time being. Their bullpen actually has the fourth-best bullpen SIERA in the majors, so we’ll only look at the starters.
Toronto’s starters have a 4.39 SIERA, which is fourth-worst in the Majors. Considering their ERA is 4.38, there really isn’t much of an argument for luck-based excuses here. Of the Jays’ starters with 10 or more starts, Drew Hutchison has the top SIERA at 3.86. Second-best Mark Buehrle is at 4.26, and everyone else has pitched even worse.
If not for their pitching, the Blue Jays would have run away with the division by now. Unless Daniel Norris or Aaron Sanchez turns into a top starter soon, there isn’t a viable way the Blue Jays will have significantly better pitching without a trade.
What Now for the Rockies?
With Tulowitzki now gone, the Rockies should at least try to deal Carlos Gonzalez. His 2015 season has been somewhat Jekyll and Hyde.
There might be still be some lag in terms of Gonzalez’s perceived performance and his actual performance. I’m only one person, but I thought Gonzalez had improved only marginally from his stone-cold start, but was shocked to see his numbers looking that healthy. In fact, he has hit 16 of his 20 homers since the start of June.
A factor in Colorado’s return for CarGo will be how much money the team will swallow. Gonzalez is owed $17 million in each of the next two years, per FanGraphs, and I’m sure the Rockies will attempt to repeat not having to take on any money, as was the case with Tulowtizki.
With prospect Trevor Story considered MLB-ready, Reyes could also be flipped before the trade deadline. The Mets are the team I personally would consider the favorite for him, but I don’t know if they will make another move after recent moves for Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson, and Tyler Clippard.