The Colorado Rockies would seem a good bet to join the salary-dump parade. But don’t count on it happening.
The team does not intend to trade either of its highest-priced players, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki or outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, according to major league sources.
A knockout offer could alter such plans quickly, but the Rockies are reluctant to make a dramatic move with Tulowitzki and/or Gonzalez for two reasons, sources say:
*The team’s position players, when healthy, are capable of forming a dominant offense at hitter-friendly Coors Field.
*The pitchers who appeal to the Rockies are affordable strike throwers with high groundball rates, and not even players as good as Tulowitzki and Gonzalez would bring back enough arms who fit that narrow description.
To illustrate the difficulty of the Rockies’ quest, consider how limited their options would be if they wanted to trade a lesser player such as center fielder Dexter Fowler to a pitching-rich team such as the Atlanta Braves.
Fowler, 26, is reasonably attractive; his defensive metrics aren’t especially good, but he had an .863 OPS last season (.720 on the road) and is under club control for three more seasons.
Problem is, which Braves pitchers would fit at Coors Field?
Not Tommy Hanson, Mike Minor or Brandon Beachy — all are flyball types. Tim Hudson would be perfect, but he is under contract for only one more year and the Braves wouldn’t trade him easily, if at all. Kris Medlen, too, would be ideal, but no way the Braves would move him.
OK, now let’s ponder Gonzalez to the Texas Rangers. The Rockies surely would love to get Matt Harrison or Alexi Ogando, but what are the odds? Not great, and the Rockies would be better off keeping Gonzalez and his club-friendly contract than making a bad trade.
On the other hand, the potential benefit of such a deal financially would be difficult for the Rockies to dismiss.
Tulowitzki, who did not play after May 30 last season due to a groin ailment that eventually required surgery, is owed $140 million over the next eight years. Gonzalez is owed $74 million over the next five.
Neither player has a no-trade clause, and the assignment bonuses in their contracts are barely a deterrent. Gonzalez gets $1 million each time he is traded, Tulowitzki $2 million the first time.
Eventually, the Rockies figure to move one or the other. Just not yet.