Bees and honey. The Mets and horrendous management. The Yankees and overpaying players. Peanut butter and jelly. These are just a few dynamic duos in history that make too much sense to the naked eye. Well, in comes the Milwaukee Brewers’ interest for free agent Troy Tulowitzki.
This is a pairing that the Milwaukee Brewers and Tulowitzki can’t afford to miss out on. After a lost season in 2018 thanks to surgery on his both of his heels, Troy Tulowitzki was released earlier this offseason by the Toronto Blue Jays. Now, facing an unfamiliar position for such a star, the former face of the Rockies is searching for a new home for this upcoming season.
That home could be Miller Park, a hitter friendly stadium that would provide the middle infielder with a perfect launching pad to his final contract.
Tulo’s Recent Issues
Tulowitzki is no sure thing. He hasn’t been his former self in the last few years. The shortstop struggled to find his footing in Toronto after getting traded from Colorado in 2015. He still put up a positive wins above replacement (WAR) but most of that was driven through defense. He lost his bat a bit once changing countries and there is no guarantee he will find it when he returns in 2019.
However, in 2016, Tulowitzki put in just barely an above average season with a weighted runs created plus (wRC+) of 104. His 24 home runs is intriguing, but his .254/.318/.443 slash line is strikingly average for his position. His strikeout and walk rates also regressed in each respective way, a worrisome prospect for his future employer.
That’s a far cry from what Tulowitzki used to be, a perennial MVP candidate with the Colorado Rockies given he played enough games. Well, he played the most games in his career since 2011 with 131 in 2016 and didn’t give the kind of production the Blue Jays hoped for. The idea of getting Tulowitzki was that if he stays healthy he will be in the top five MVP conversation. And yet, it didn’t work out.
The Brewers And Tulo
So, where do the Milwaukee Brewers come in? Knocking on the door of a trip to the World Series, second base is one of the few positions Milwaukee has a gaping hole at. However, Tulowitzki has been a shortstop for his entire career.
Tulowitzki has expressed he would be willing to move to second base to accommodate his team’s needs. A defensive pairing of Orlando Arcia and Troy Tulowitzki up the middle would be impressive. Both are solid defenders and would allow them to maximize their best attributes (Arcia with his range, Tulo with his slick fielding). Additionally, Tulowitzki would save miles on his injury prone and aging body.
Then comes offense. While the former star hasn’t had nearly the same offensive production as his younger version (170 wRC+ through a half season in 2014!) there may still be something there. Emphasis on “may”. He isn’t getting any younger and his numbers show. Though he struggled in 2017 before succumbing to injuries (only played 66 games), he still showed a bit of his past with a declining strikeout rate.
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Looking at the rest of his numbers doesn’t necessarily give off hope. His slash line was still unimpressive and his walk rate continued to go in the wrong direction. But how much of that is his skill set declining? Or, could it be a lingering injury throughout his whole year? The answer to that second question is essential. Whether its a yes or no determines whether your organization just should be arrested for armed robbery or not.
There’s also the natural question that comes with any hitter from the Rockies. Was he a product of Coors Field? I don’t want to degrade Tulowitzki to simply an average player that was lucky enough to come up through Colorado’s organization, and neither do the numbers. His home and road splits aren’t too far off while he played for the Rockies save for his ludicrous 2014 season. Yes, he was a beneficiary of his environment. But, the numbers back up that he would and did have success elsewhere.
And Miller Park is one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in baseball, giving him as close a replica to the environment in Colorado without actually being there.
It Makes Too Much Sense
So, after two lackluster years in Toronto, the Milwaukee Brewers would be making a mistake in not doing everything to convince Tulo to join the postseason run. He wouldn’t cost nearly as much as he should thanks to Toronto fronting his bill this upcoming season (Milwaukee would only have to pay league minimum).
He comes at a severe discount his history which is exactly what a small market team must capitalize on. This is how teams without money must attack the offseason while other organizations overpay for brand names.
If Tulowitzki returns to even half of his former production then the Milwaukee Brewers would be upgrading for a tiny price. If he doesn’t, Milwaukee isn’t on the hook for much and would be back to where they were last season. Not too shabby.
Same goes for his health. The more he plays, the better. But, the Brewers have a lot of depth and utility players. This is handy if he gets injured or if Milwaukee wants to treat him with training wheels. The organization could very well play him 100 games, mix in replacements every few games or so, keep him healthy and prepared for the postseason and be in a much better position at second base than last season.
To say there isn’t risk in signing Tulo is optimistic but, honestly, isn’t too far off. He sure isn’t going to ruin the clubhouse and could provide above average production at a position of need.
As for Tulowitzki, what’s in it for him? Well, he’s already getting paid a passable $20 million dollars and doesn’t have to worry about going to a wealthy organization. He’s played in a total of 35 postseason games and last played in a World Series over 10 years ago. Tulo would have a legitimate chance to get to another World Series if he were to come to Milwaukee and could get his first and only ring in the process.
Putting aside team success, there’s no better place (aside from Coors) for the shortstop to come and put up elite offensive numbers to show he’s not over the hill yet than Miller Park. Going into his age 34 season, that’s necessary to get a final contract to roll into retirement.
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Slotting Troy Tulowitzki into the Milwaukee Brewers’ lineup doesn’t just make sense, it’s obvious. The potential for each party is endless and the risks are minimal. Tulo could very well be the answer for this World Series contender.