At the 2015 trade deadline, Blue Jays fans were stunned to hear news of a trade that welcomed Troy Tulowitzki north of the border and sent Jose Reyes packing.
“Surprised isn’t nearly a strong enough word. Shocked is the word”. What Ken Rosenthal stated after hearing news of the trade matches the emotion of most fans. After a curious situation with Rockies’ management, Tulowitzki found himself a Blue Jay. Fans had a hard time grasping Tulo’s emotions on the deal, as he was seemingly just as surprised as they were. Tulowitzki’s career was, from that point on, shockingly changed forever.
Perhaps the biggest difference Tulo has made is his instantaneous presence defensively. A position that was once known as a nuisance for the Jays suddenly became arguably the Jays strongest defensive position. If you combine that with a player who currently sits 23rd among active hitters in average, you get one of the Jays most valuable players.
Despite hitting just over .200 in the postseason, he did show up at big times, and showed power that wouldn’t have been provided by former Blue Jay shortstop Reyes. He came up with several RBIs via multiple home runs, including a three run shot in game three of the ALDS that was arguably the second-most important hit of the postseason, only behind the now-famous “bat flip”.
Transitioning into 2016, Tulowitzky started the season off pretty rough, batting below .200 for the majority of the first half. To cap off an unpredictably bad start, Tulo was held out of the lineup with an injury for over 20 games. At a salary of $15 million a year, Tulo became a liability, not an asset.
It is entirely possible that spending some time on the DL was the best thing that could’ve happened to him. Since coming back from injury, he’s been above or around .300 and has hit 9 home runs and 26 RBIs – in just 32 games. Tulo is looking like Tulo, still with the strong arm and gifted glove, but also with the very familiar ability to get on base and drive in runs.
When Tulowitzki was traded to Toronto, he looked like the perfect player. Tall, lean, experienced. Everything was on his side – including his history. As long as he can age like a bottle of wine, he should be doing well for the Jays as he edges into his 30’s. But questions will always loom, however. The Jays gave up three prospects for Tulowitzki, improving an offence that was arguably already the best in baseball. The question remaining for many Blue Jays fans is this – was it too much for Tulo?
The aging Reyes given in return for Troy Tulowitzki now finds himself a member of the Mets facing charges for domestic abuse against his wife. For $22 million a year, having a player who is absent from the lineup due to a suspension, possesses a negative WAR , and maintains batting average that seems to slip lower and lower as the years pass, it’s hard to think anyone is wishing Reyes was still wearing a Blue Jay uniform.