In many ways, for many reasons, the New York Yankees trading for Troy Tulowitzki makes sense. After all, they’re the major-market, deep-pocketed, All-Star-obtaining Yankees, and in 2015, they’ll be embarking on their first season sans shortstop, captain and future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter.

How to fill a hole that has been occupied by the face of Major League Baseball and hasn’t needed filling in 20 years? If you’re the Yankees, it’s simple, really: Get the best available player to replace Jeter, of course.

Because make no mistake, for as many concerns and risks that come with Tulowitzki—and we’ll get to those—the Colorado Rockies star is undoubtedly the best shortstop in baseball, which is why this idea keeps popping up in rumor mills and on message boards.

Except doing just that not only isn’t simple, it’s rather complicated, perhaps in even more ways, and for even more reasons, than acquiring Tulowitzki would be.

The go-get-Tulo sentiment that has swelled among Yankees fans has only been bolstered by the recent news that the Rockies might actually entertain the idea of trading Tulowitzki, per Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

That’s an about-face from years past, when owner Dick Monfort had repeatedly held firm in his stance that Tulowitzki was too valuable to the franchise to be moved.

Really, these Tulowitzki rumors started back in July when he visited Yankee Stadium to catch Jeter, his baseball idol growing up, in action one final time before the Yankees captain hung ’em up. Relax: Tulowitzki already was in the area for a second opinion on—what else?—an injury.

“It’s a short drive from (my doctor in) Philly,” he told The Denver Post at the time (via Peter Botte and Stephen Lorenzo of the New York Daily News). “I wanted to see Jeter play one more time.”

Still, that was only a couple weeks after Tulowitzki had made it clear that he was open to the idea of moving on from Colorado if the team doesn’t turn things around soon, according to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman. The club just finished its fourth consecutive losing season.

So if Tulowitzki is open to the idea and the Rockies seem to be, too, why is it such a bad one for the Yankees to consider?

For starters, there’s the money. After making $16 million in 2014, Tulowitzki’s salary jumps to $20 million per over the next five years through 2019—the highest per-year amount he’s owed over the life of the contract. The price settles back down to $14 million in 2020 and $15 million in 2021 (with a $4 million buyout that final year).

Tack on a $2 million bonus if he changes teams, and the total cost is at least $120 million through 2020. And here’s a little-known—and entirely terrifying—fact about Tulowitzki’s contract: He may only be traded one time without his permission.

Other factors, like age, performance, injury history and, primarily, salary, would make it nigh impossible to swap Tulowitzki if something goes south. But if the Rockies trade him, the next team actually is stuck with him. Like, contractually.

The money—$20 million a year—actually isn’t outrageous for a player like Tulowitzki. After all, there were reports earlier in the offseason that the Yankees might be interested in Elvis Andrus, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. By comparison, the 26-year-old Texas Rangers shortstop—a much less impactful player than Tulowitzki—is owed $15 million a season on his eight-year, $120 million extension that begins in 2015.

Plus, it’s not like the Yankees couldn’t afford to pay Tulowitzki’s contract.

Where it becomes a problem, however, is a combination of Tulowitzki’s age and injury history, two things that have plagued the Yankees in recent years, as the roster has been loaded with aging, injury-prone, overpriced former stars (read: Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, etc.).

Tulowitzki, who turned 30 in October, would just add to the pile.

Speaking of that injury history, here’s a rundown of the various ailments that have put Tulowitzki on the disabled list in his career and how many games he missed with each:

Add it all up, and Tulowitzki has averaged just 117 games a season starting with his 2007 rookie campaign. He has played more than 126 games exactly three times in those nine years.

His latest injury, the one that ended a 2014 campaign that was shaping up to be his best yet, was a torn labrum in his left hip—a rather concerning issue given his position. He had surgery in August and is on track to be ready for the start of 2015, if you believe new Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich.

The last reason why Tulowitzki-to-the-Yankees doesn’t make sense? What does New York have to trade to obtain him?

The Rockies continue to insist there is no discount for injury because he’s a premium, in-his-prime player at an up-the-middle position. So they want a full return for Tulowitzki, per’s Jerry Crasnick, even though his trade value went from its peak to the pits with his latest season-ending surgery.

Bridich indicated his top priority is to acquire starting pitching—which is more or less a “no duh” when it comes to Colorado—but the Yankees don’t have much to give the Rockies to actually entice them.

The best options might be young right-hander Shane Greene, former top prospect Manny Banuelos and current top prospect Luis Severino. Is that enough to get a deal done? Probably not, from the Rockies’ point of view.

The bottom line is there’s no reason for the Yankees to take a huge risk by trading for Tulowitzki before he proves he’s healthy, and the Rockies have no motivation to move him until he plays, produces and pumps up his value first.

And even then, the risk would be almost all on the Yankees’ side. And it would be huge, considering the massive amount of money he’s owed, and constant concerns over if (when?) he gets hurt again (and again).

The reward could be huge also, but only if everything goes just right for the first few seasons of what’s left of Tulowitzki’s contract. Given New York’s other onerous deals, tacking on another just isn’t a smart approach.

General manager Brian Cashman appears to get this, having reinforced the likelihood, via Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, that the Yankees won’t be targeting any big-money players this offseason, whether in free agency or trade.

For those Yankees fans who want Tulowitzki in pinstripes, that sounds like bad news. Really, though, it’s just the opposite.


Statistics are accurate through the 2014 season and courtesy of, and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted. Contract information courtesy of Spotrac.

To talk baseball or fantasy baseball, check in with me on Twitter: @JayCat11.

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