Pittsburgh Pirates 12 days of Trademas – Day 3- Tulowitzki


Welcome to Rumbunter’s 12 Days of Trademas! On each day between now and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, we will profile a player or two who may be a potential trade target for the Pittsburgh Pirates. We will highlight both the cases for and against that player in order to give you the full scope of what acquiring that player might entail. 

Before we get to the possibility of the Pittsburgh Pirates adding the best offensive shortstop in the game, please take a listen to Rum Bunter Radio’s podcast discussing yesterday’s spotlight – Justin Upton:

The third player in our ’12 Days of Trademas’ spotlight is none other than Troy Tulowitzki, shortstop for the Colorado Rockies. “Tulo” is a five-time all star and is widely regarded as the best offensive shortstop in the game. Despite signing an extension to remain in Colorado until 2020, Tulowitzki’s name is again floating in trade rumors. With the Rockies owning the third-worst record in the National League at 39-51, that talk is ramping up again. With young stars like Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, and DJ LeMahieu in the fold, the Rockies are looking to shed salary and begin to rebuild.

Before we get into how he may fit with the Pittsburgh Pirates, let us set the baseline by looking at Tulo’s career stats.

2010 ★25COLNL1225294708914832327951124878.315.381.568.949
2011 ★26COLNL1436065378116236230105935979.302.372.544.916
2013 ★28COLNL126512446721392702582105785.312.391.540.931
2014 ★29COLNL91375315711071812152115057.340.432.6031.035
2015 ★30COLNL8132429945951901150002266.318.361.492.853
10 Yrs1042438838736591163224241876545531433707.300.373.515.888

The case for Tulowitzki

More from Rum Bunter

As mentioned in the lead, the discussion of the best offensive shortstop in the game – at the very least in the National League – begins and ends with Tulowitzki. A .300 career hitter with legitimate power, Tulowitzki has earned that moniker. He has a great career slash against left-handed pitching – .322/.405/.562. Tulowitzki does a fantastic job of not swinging at bad pitches, with a 31.1% O-Swing rate (percentages of swings at pitches outside of the strike zone). Inserting him into the Pittsburgh Pirates lineup would see him rank third on the team in this metric.

Perhaps the best case for Tulowitzki comes not in pure statistical numbers, but in the makeup of the Pirates lineup. Tulowitzki would slot in wonderfully right behind Andrew McCutchen, providing an immediate boost in protection over Jung Ho Kang or Starling Marte. Doing so would allow Clint Hurdle to bump Marte down to fifth in the order, where he has done good work. Hurdle could also put Marte in the two-hole and put together the top-third of Gregory Polanco, Marte, and McCutchen, which terrorized opponents in the short time it was put in play back in 2014. And this is all without mentioning the six-week (at least) absence of one Jordy Mercer. Tulowitzki’s defense isn’t worth 50% of Mercer’s and will never be confused to be, but defense is not the reason to bring a player of his caliber into the fold.

The case against Tulowitzki.

To call Troy Tulowitzki injury-prone over the past few years would be an understatement. Tulowitzki has not played in 150 or more games since 2009, and has dealt with a variety of maladies throughout his recent history. It is a case of ‘so far, so good’ in 2015 as he has appeared in 81 games this year-to-date.

To call Tulowitzki highly-paid would be another understatement. As we alluded to, Tulowitzki is enjoying a contact extension signed back in 2010 that will pay him about $19 million per year through 2020, with a team option for 2021. Simply put, for the Pittsburgh Pirates to take on such a lengthy, lucrative contract would take not only a large off-loading of money from the Rockies, but a radical change in thinking from the Pirates’ front office. As we mentioned in our trademas piece on Ben Zobrist, the Bucs have shown not to shy away from exploring acquisitions with longer commitments by virtue of their pursuit of David Price. Yet, this would be a considerable step up in financial commitment to a single player, which is simply not something the Pirates do. If they did, it might ham-string the team in possible extension talks with McCutchen and Gerrit Cole, among others.

UPDATE: a reader points out that the strained relationship between Clint Hurdle and Tulowitzki would be another nail in the coffin for a potential acquisition.

For those unfamiliar, towards the end of his stint as the Colorado Rockies’ manager, Hurdle frequently benched Tulowitzki for defensive reasons, among others.


From a pure on-the-diamond standpoint, the acquisition of Troy Tulowitzki is a no-brainer. His proven track record of offense well outweighs any lingering injury concerns. inserting Tulowitzki into the Pittsburgh Pirates lineup at any spot would have a trans-formative effect on the offense, turning a sometimes-potent offense into a potentially deadly one.

Unfortunately, big-name acquisitions are almost never weighed only by what happens on the field. With his hefty salary, there is almost no shot at Troy Tulowitzki joining the Pittsburgh Pirates.

What do you think? Let us know on twitter! You can tweet us here or use the #12daysoftrademas hashtag! You can also air your grievances in the comments or on our facebook page.

Next: 12 Days of Trademas Day 1 - Ben Zobrist