TODAY'S PAPER
52° Good Morning
52° Good Morning
SportsColumnistsDavid Lennon

Trading for Troy Tulowitzki would be a mistake for Mets

Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki of the Colorado Rockies gets

Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki of the Colorado Rockies gets a base hit single against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the home opener at Coors Field on April 4, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. Photo Credit: Getty Images

We get the frustration from the Mets' long-suffering fan base. It has been an agonizing wait for respectability.

But if your belief is that Sandy Alderson should trade for Troy Tulowitzki to demonstrate that the Mets are at least trying to build a contender, it's a good thing you're not the general manager.

The Mets and Rockies have chatted about what it might take to acquire Tulowitzki, as a source confirmed Friday, and they've left the door open to further conversations. But as it stands now, the only No. 2 in Flushing this season is likely to be Dilson Herrera.

For what it probably would take to acquire Tulowitzki, along with the risk involved, that's the smarter play.

The idea of Tulowitzki is awfully attractive. The Mets have been searching for a shortstop since they let Jose Reyes walk in 2011, and Tulowitzki combines Gold Glove defense with a career .891 OPS -- Coors-inflated but still impressive.

The reality, however, suggests the short-term benefit of Tulowitzki would not outweigh the lasting fallout from the huge price for an aging, injury-prone star at a high-impact position.

Tulowitzki is rehabbing from hip surgery, which is something that's expected for your grandma but alarming when it happens to a 30-year-old shortstop. He played only 91 games last season and has averaged 88 since 2011, when he made it all the way to 143.

The Mets are fearful of this trend. Players get hurt more, not less, as they get older, and Tulowitzki is a six-year commitment at a cost of $118 million guaranteed.

At his best, he is a franchise player, a perennial MVP candidate, and is paid like one. But no club wants to write those checks now, and what the Rockies should kick in salary-wise to move him is something that hasn't even been discussed between the teams.

A good starting point would be the recent Matt Kemp trade in which the Padres reportedly got the Dodgers to pick up $32 million of the remaining $107 million on his contract. Given Alderson's micromanaging of the payroll, figure the Mets wouldn't do a Tulowitzki deal for a nickel less than a similar percentage, which would be a $36-million shipping cost for the Rockies. But there's no indication Colorado would eat anywhere near that amount.

Money is no object for the Dodgers, and they were desperate to move Kemp. The only price the Mets have heard from the Rockies has been in terms of young talent, and they're not in the mood to consider dealing "multiple" top prospects, including Noah Syndergaard, before having a ballpark figure on what they'd have to pay Tulowitzki.

Tulowitzki has the potential to be a difference-maker for the Mets, but only when he's in the lineup. Will his surgically repaired hip hold up this season? If so, how many years can he remain a shortstop? The Mets can't move him to third base, obviously, and there's no DH spot to protect him. First base then?

Maybe it's too early to worry about such things. But if you're the Mets, thinking about taking that type of salary hit, they have to view the big picture.

For the past four years, Alderson carefully has reconstructed the Mets at a glacial pace, keeping the payroll in check and stocking the minors. It doesn't appear that he wants to suddenly blow up that blueprint for one player.

For two or three years of Tulowitzki, this deal would make a lot more sense. But six has the feel of a contract a team eventually can't wait to get out of -- and Alderson has shown little appetite for going that route.

As the season draws closer, the Rockies could feel more pressure to move a disgruntled Tulowitzki. Maybe that would create a more productive dialogue.

But from what the Mets are hearing now, and the health issues surrounding Tulowitzki, the juice isn't worth the squeeze.

Comments

We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

New York Sports