It’s fun to wake up in the morning with a surprise. Groggy-eyed, sipping my morning water, I open my iPad case and see an alert that Troy Tulowitzki was traded to the Blue Jays for Jose Reyes and a trio of pitching prospects. It was like an espresso while I waited for my coffee to brew, and the trade was all the more surprising because I figured the Rockies were never going to trade their 30-year old shortstop and it was to the one team you assumed didn’t need offense.
This makes Toronto a more dangerous team in the near term. I don’t know if a strategy based upon all hitting and no pitching is the correct one—the Blue Jays are like looking at a snapshot of the Mets in inverse—but trading a brittle 32-year old shortstop clearly in decline for a brittle 30-year old shortstop with a few good years left will certainly add a few wins. I haven’t looked at the Jays prospect lists in depth to know if they gave up any pitching of note, but by all accounts the pitchers they sent weren’t top tier, Noah Syndergaard types. People will undoubtedly wonder why the Jays went after bats when they need pitching, but if there’s an opportunity to add a dynamic talent like Tulowitzki to your club it’d be silly to pass because he doesn’t play once every five days. Of course, with Tulowitzki’s injury history, that might be all the Jays get anyway.
This, hopefully, brings a close to all the constant chatter and dreamy looks Mets’ fans (me included) have tossed Tulowitzki’s way since the world realized the Rockies weren’t ready to compete. With his departure, it does raise the question if Carlos Gonzalez will now be dealt and if the Mets want to trade for anyone not departing at year’s end.
From a personal standpoint, I’m more interested in this deal from the Reyes side. Since 2011, when he signed with the Marlins in the offseason, he’s been traded twice and likely a third time (word is the Rockies will probably try to flip him to save additional money) and will be playing for his third team in the span of four years. It’ll make four teams in five years if you count his last year with the Mets. Reyes was always a favorite of mine, and he ranks comfortably ahead of all other Mets shortstops by fWAR. His fWAR of 30.7 is more than the combined total (28.8) of the other shortstops in team history when filtered through qualified plate appearances. He was easily the best Mets shortstop in my lifetime, and only Rey Ordonez tugs upon my heartstrings more forcefully.
Still, I thought it was a good idea when the Mets let him walk. The team wasn’t ready to contend, and spending big bucks on a fragile infielder whose game is built on speed didn’t make much sense. That kind of thinking doesn’t necessarily make me prophetic, like I’m reading the tea leaves here. It’s pretty much common sense. For the Mets, by not signing Reyes, they picked Kevin Plawecki with the supplemental round pick awarded for Reyes’ signing.
So, there’s that.
In other news, I thought the Tyler Clippard trade was a solid addition to the bullpen. He doesn’t solve the Mets need for a lefty specialist (Jerry Blevins will certainly fill that role when/if he returns from the disabled list), but he has been particularly nasty to lefties this season with a .100/.222/.129 slash line and 17 strikeouts. He pitched in a great pitcher’s park in Oakland, and that won’t change now that he’s moving along to Citi Field. Along with Blevins, the Mets are slowly starting to resemble the 2014 Nationals bullpen. Okay, that’s fine by me. Clippard was force for the Nationals in the eighth inning last season, so it’s good to see those goggles once again EST.
I mentioned yesterday that I thought the Mets could help limit their starters’ innings and arm wear by improving the bullpen, and Clippard does that. Trading a 20-year old pitcher with plenty of room to grow hurts a little, especially trading a potential starter for a few relief innings, but I’m not particularly bothered by it. My only question in the way the Mets have been dealing is whether Sandy Alderson is going to trade for anyone not destined for free agency at season’s end. I can only assume it’s both to limit the risk (why take on extra years for relievers?) and also the price is significantly cheaper. Does that mean Gerardo Parra is now in play too?