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Mets winter meetings: Troy Tulowitzki, trade target

If the Mets are serious about competing in 2015 and beyond, it's time for them to step up and make an offer to the Rockies for Tulowitzki at next week's winter meetings.

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Despite what's being said by both teams and the media on the matter, I'm not going to let the dream of Troy Tulowitzki playing shortstop for the Mets fall to the wayside. To be honest, he's the type of star player that the Mets need at shortstop, the type of player who would put them over the top in 2015 and beyond, and they would be foolish to let the potential opportunity to acquire him slip through their fingers.

I bet I know what you're thinking right now and yes, I can acknowledge that he's had a history of injury problems. Yes, he's going to be expensive to acquire both in terms of money and probably prospects, too. At the moment, he's not even said to be available on the trade market (though I do believe anyone can be had for the right price). I don't care because I strongly believe this is the type of talent the Mets need to acquire in order to put themselves in the conversation with the Nationals in the National League East race. No more half measures, no more bounceback candidates, reclamation projects, or platoons. The Mets need another star level talent in their lineup and Tulowitzki is that player at shortstop.

It's common knowledge that the Mets need to upgrade their production at shortstop on both sides of the ball, so why not completely overhaul it with the best player in the league at that position? Tulowitzki is far and away the best shortstop in the game and at age 30, is right in the midst of his prime years. Before he was shut down for the season last July, the Rockies' shortstop was an early MVP favorite, hitting .340/.432/.603 with 21 home runs, good for 5.5 wins according to Baseball Reference's version of the metric (5.1 by Fangraphs' measure). That's over 5 wins in 91 games, slightly more than half a season. For reference, the cavalcade of subpar Mets shortstops over the past 3 seasons have been worth a total of 5.0 wins COMBINED since Jose Reyes departed for Miami. Think about that for a second: Tulowitzki in 375 plate appearances in 2014 was still worth more than all of the Mets shortstops in 2,313 plate appearances over the past 3 seasons.

This is not the first time Tulowitzki has been a 5 win player in his career, either. In fact, Tulowitzki has been at least a 5 win player in 6 of the past 8 seasons dating back to 2007. Over the same span, David Wright has been worth 5 wins in only 4 of those seasons and Jose Reyes has done it once (by Baseball Reference) or twice (by Fangraphs). In acquiring Tulowitzki, the Mets would be adding a star to their roster and he would clearly be the best player on a team with David Wright, which is saying something considering David's career. Not only would he add another outstanding bat to the middle of the lineup, he'd add a plus glove at shortstop as well.

The big question, of course, is what it would take to acquire Tulowitzki from the Rockies. As I've said before, it's probably a package that's going to hurt. But if he's anchoring shortstop and bringing the Mets to the playoffs over the next few seasons, will trading prospects for Tulowitzki hurt that much? Making this deal would be bold, a level of boldness we haven't seen from the Alderson regime. But the Mets have a history of making bold trades for stars and two of their biggest have been for catchers approaching age 30. Acquiring Gary Carter prior to 1985 and Mike Piazza in 1998 were incredibly risky trades considering the typical aging curve for catchers (not to mention the fact that Piazza could walk away as a free agent after 1998). The team traded high level young big leaguers and prospects to get them and paid them a lot of money, too. Looking back, would we not make those deals? I'll let you decide but I think I know your answer.

Going back in time to the 2011 offseason, letting Jose Reyes walk away for whatever reason they did was clearly a mistake and due to the drop in offense all around the league, acquiring any kind of upgrade is going to cost an arm and a leg. Despite an environment bereft of offense, the Mets have still managed bottom level production from their shortstops. With the majority of positions on the club spoken for, there's really no place for the Mets to make a major improvement other than at shortstop and if Tulowitzki can be had, it's an opportunity for the Mets to not only improve the club immensely but also to right a past wrong in a huge way. It might take a lot to get him but to me, the odds that a deal will be worth it for the Mets in 2015 and beyond are strong. The time is now for the Mets to be bold and to try to make a run at the Nationals and it would be sad to see them miss out on this potential opportunity.