After initial shock, Tulo excited to join Blue Jays
Shortstop buying into win-now mentality along with club's long-term vision
TORONTO -- Troy Tulowitzki had been frequently mentioned in trade talks over the last couple of years, but his constant presence in the rumor mill did little to alleviate the shock he felt when Colorado officially agreed to a blockbuster trade with the Blue Jays.
Tulowitzki admitted he was "blindsided" by Tuesday's deal that saw him head to Toronto alongside reliever LaTroy Hawkins in a stunning trade for Jose Reyes and a package of top pitching prospects. The business side of baseball can often serve as a wakeup call for a lot of players, and that harsh reality was pretty evident this week.
The 30-year-old Tulowitzki was drafted by the Rockies' organization in 2005, and after signing a 10-year contract in 2010, he openly talked about his desire to follow the path of Cal Ripken Jr. and play for one team in his career. That's no longer possible, and while it took a little while for Tulowitzki to process the news, he's in a much better head space than he was 48 hours ago.
"To be with a different organization now is shocking," Tulowitzki said during an introductory news conference Wednesday afternoon. "At the same time, I'm looking forward to the future. I see a winning team and a winning culture. I know they haven't won a World Series here in a while, and to be a part of something like that would be memorable. That's why you play the game -- to win, and I think that's something that can happen here very soon."
Tulowitzki found out about the trade when he was pulled from Monday night's game in the ninth inning for a defensive replacement. When he was called off the field, it was obvious something was up, and a conversation with emotional Rockies manager Walt Weiss confirmed the news.
One of the biggest issues for Tulowitzki is that he believed there was an understanding with ownership that he would at least have some say or input on any deal. He didn't possess a no-trade clause in his contract, but after 10 years as the Rockies' franchise player, and frequent promises from ownership, Tulowitzki felt there would have been more of an understanding.
It wasn't until Tulowitzki had a conversation with his family that he finally came to grips with the trade. If his family was fine with the news, then he would be, too. And now the focus shifts to the product on the field and a level of excitement he hasn't felt in years. Colorado hasn't come close to contending in recent seasons, but the Blue Jays have aspirations of making the postseason, and playing meaningful games is something Tulowitzki is looking forward to.
"I know they're in a win-now mode, so that excites me," Tulowitzki said. "I know they're right in the thick of things, and no one has really ran away with this, so I'm excited about that.
"It's not like I'm going, 'OK, let's try this thing out for two months here and see what we've got.' No, I've come into this locker room expecting to win and not to say, 'OK, well, next year.' Right now, we can win, guys in the locker room know that, and I'm just excited to be a part of it."
Tulowitzki will go a long way in helping to achieve that contender status, but he also becomes a primary component of their future core. It's rare to see these types of players dealt at this time of the year when the market typically focuses on more short-term rentals or guys who have little more than a year remaining on their contracts.
In Tulowitzki's case, he's signed through 2020, and even has a club option on his deal for 2021. This isn't a short-term fix for either side. Instead, the long-term outlook of this franchise will center around the former MVP candidate, Russell Martin and Josh Donaldson. Whether Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion remain a part of this beyond 2016 still remains to be seen.
"I'm still shocked, when I walk into a clubhouse and it's not purple, it's different for me," Tulowitzki said. "So, I think as the games go on, I get some games under my belt, meet these guys, go on a road trip, win some games, I think I'll feel more comfortable. I think it's something that I'm not going to be able to force, it's just going to have to come."