As a symbol of where they are in their rebuilding effort and the growing strength of their farm system, Mets officials have told their Rockies counterparts if Troy Tulowitzki or Carlos Gonzalez are ever made available, they want in on the action.
Rockies ownership has strongly stated it does not want to deal CarGo and, especially, Tulowitzki. But the extended run of poor play by the franchise, the growing contracts of the two players and the teeming disenchantment of the fan base has moved many within the industry to believe that decision could change, if not now, then this offseason.
An AL executive who checked in with the Rockies described a club in some disarray concerning who will be making front office decisions in the future, but not ready yet to trade a huge piece now. An NL executive said he believes owner Dick Monfort will consider the move more than ever, but ultimately is too loyal and committed to those players to move them.
But keep in mind Tulowitzki has indicated he has become frustrated playing his prime mainly in non-contention. And there is belief if he were to request a trade, ownership would strongly consider fulfilling his wishes. However, Tulowitzki has a no-trade provision, wears No. 2 in honor of Derek Jeter and is thought to be considerably more interested in being a Yankee than a Met. And Colorado already has expressed interest to the Yankees in their top pitching prospect, Luis Severino.
Plus, sources say the Cardinals — owners of arguably the deepest farm system in the sport — are enamored with Tulowitzki and would move significant pieces to land him. In fact, the market will be deep if Tulowitzki comes onto it, because he is viewed as one of the 10 best players in the majors.
And one NL executive said “because Colorado always needs to address pitching, I actually see the Mets as their perfect partner.”
The Mets want to add a shortstop (like Tulowitzki) and/or a left fielder (like CarGo) and see those as finishing pieces to being a sustained contender. That the Mets reached out to Colorado suggests a) they have the resources to add a significant long-term contract and b) their farm system is viewed within the sport as elite.
That last part is essential going forward to open doors for the Mets. The Rockies are said to think highly of Noah Syndergaard, Brandon Nimmo, Steven Matz, Dilson Herrera and others. In other words, the Mets — if they are willing to part with some combination of good farmhands — will be factors for CarGo, Tulowitzki or any other star that comes onto the market.
As for CarGo and Tulo, they share the same issues that will make teams wonder about how much to surrender: injury-prone histories, significant dollars owed and stats buoyed by playing home games at Coors Field.
Tulowitzki, 30 in October, has started 140 games at shortstop just three times in seven full years. He is being paid $14 million this season and then has five more years left at $104 million, plus a $2 million provision if he is traded and escalators to his base contracts based on — among other items — MVP finish. This season, Tulowitzki has a 1.246 OPS at home and .811 away, and it is .962/.818 for his career.
Gonzalez, who turns 29 in October, had spent a good chunk of this season on the disabled list after having a benign tumor removed from his left index finger. He has started 140 games just once in four full years in the majors. Gonzalez is earning $10.5 million this season and has three years at $53 million remaining on his contract from 2015-17. His home/road splits are .915/.598 this year and .987/.758 for his career. He is not perceived as the same level of star as Tulowitzki, but the lefty-swinging Gonzalez is still considered an above-average player.
Rockies, White Sox keeping eye on Cervelli
Maybe it is seen by Joe Girardi as the best alignment with Mark Teixeira out, but a few executives felt Francisco Cervelli was being showcased because he has caught the Yankees’ last four games with Brian McCann moving to first base — including a day game Thursday after a rain-shortened night game Wednesday.
The Rockies and White Sox are both known to be looking for catching, and both have liked Cervelli in the past.
“You showcase in spring training, not now when you are trying to win games,” GM Brian Cashman insisted. “We are just putting our best team on the field while Teix is out.”
Colorado has pieces that could tempt the Yankees, such as lefty starters Brett Anderson and Jorge De La Rosa (for whom the Rockies are said to be asking a steep price) as well as Wilin Rosario (a righty power bat who could catch, play first when Teixeira is not available and maybe even a little outfield).
The Yankees have some interest in John Danks, but the $28.5 million he is owed in 2015-16 is worrisome.
The White Sox also like John Ryan Murphy, but so do the Yankees, who would probably only use him or Gary Sanchez in trades to acquire players more in their prime than Danks.
Eppler, Preller atop list for Padres GM
The growing perception in the game is the Padres general manager search is a two-horse race between Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler and Rangers assistant GM A.J. Preller, with Boston assistant GM Mike Hazen still a factor.
The initial belief was Hazen’s candidacy was helped because Padres influential president Mike Dee worked with Hazen with the Red Sox. But word is Dee had far less to do with baseball operations in Boston than in San Diego and did not have much interaction with Hazen. If anything, Hazen’s candidacy would be aided if Red Sox president Larry Lucchino pushed for him because he is said to have influence with the Padres hierarchy.
There is a strong undercurrent Arizona GM Kevin Towers will leave his job after this season and join San Diego (where he was once the long-time GM) as the president of baseball operations. That would, sources say, bolster Eppler’s candidacy. Towers worked as a special assistant to Yankees GM Brian Cashman in 2010 and worked closely with and liked Eppler. In this scenario, Towers would loan his experience as a GM in two locales to Eppler, who has yet to be a GM.
Preller’s candidacy is helped by his deep involvement in international scouting. The Padres upper management believes the team has done poorly in this area and wants to upgrade.