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Troy Tulowitzki traded to AL East team in blockbuster deal

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Troy Tulowitzki traded to AL East team in blockbuster deal

By PAT GRAHAM

DENVER (AP) -- After all that speculation the past couple of years, the Colorado Rockies finally traded Troy Tulowitzki.

Surprising spot, too -- north of the border to a team loaded with bats.

Tulowitzki was sent to the Toronto Blue Jays for Jose Reyes and three pitching prospects late Monday night in a stunning swap of star shortstops, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity early Tuesday because the deal had not yet been announced.

In addition to Tulowitzki, the Rockies sent 42-year-old reliever LaTroy Hawkins to the Blue Jays.

Along with Reyes, the Rockies picked up rookie reliever Miguel Castro and two minor league pitchers in a blockbuster transaction -- the biggest yet in the days leading up to Friday's trade deadline.

FoxSports.com first reported the sides agreed to a swap involving Tulowitzki, Reyes and minor leaguers.

The talented but oft-injured Tulowitzki is a five-time All-Star who is hitting .300 with 12 homers and 53 RBIs in 87 games this season. He helped the Rockies reach the World Series as a rookie in 2007.

Tulowitzki was replaced on defense in the bottom of the ninth inning during Colorado's 9-8 loss to the Cubs in Chicago on Monday night. After the game, the slugger spent at least 30 minutes in manager Walt Weiss' office at Wrigley Field, but was unavailable to reporters.

The deal gives Toronto (50-50) another powerful, right-handed bat in a dangerous lineup that includes Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion and Russell Martin. The Blue Jays, by far the highest-scoring team in the majors, sit three games behind Minnesota in the race for the second AL wild card.

They are tied for second place in the AL East, seven games back of the New York Yankees. Toronto has not reached the playoffs since winning the 1993 World Series -- the longest drought of any major league team.

Donaldson bid farewell to Reyes on his Twitter account: "Going to miss my boy. ... Once a brother always a brother."

Reyes is batting .285 with four homers, 34 RBIs and 16 steals in 69 games. He was acquired by Toronto in a November 2012 trade with Miami.

The face of Colorado's franchise, the 30-year-old Tulowitzki has spent his entire career with the Rockies (42-55) but has been the subject of trade talk for some time. Still, the Blue Jays seemed an unlikely destination.

"Tremendous player," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said in San Francisco. "Sometimes you're surprised when you have a guy like Tulo who's so iconic in Colorado."

Before the 2011 season, Colorado made a big commitment to Tulowitzki by agreeing to a contract that guaranteed him $132 million over seven seasons from 2014-20. The deal included a $14 million team option for 2021 with a $4 million buyout.

Combined with his previous deal, it meant the Rockies agreed to pay Tulowitzki $157.75 million over 10 years. The plan was to build around him and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, who signed an $80 million, seven-year contract around the same time.

With the Tulowitzki trade, Gonzalez might be next -- especially considering how hot he's been at the plate lately after an injury-riddled 2014 season.

The speedy Reyes is signed through 2017 on a $106 million, six-year contract he received from Miami.

A four-time All-Star with the New York Mets, Reyes also has struggled with injuries throughout his career.

Hawkins is 2-1 with a 3.63 ERA in 24 games and is headed to his 11th major league team.

There's no doubting the hitting prowess of the 6-foot-3 Tulowitzki. Staying healthy has been his biggest challenge. During his career, he's had stints on the disabled list for a quadriceps tendon tear, lacerated right hand, broken left wrist and a groin injury.

Last season, Tulowitzki played only 91 games before undergoing hip surgery.

This year, he's been injury-free, with Weiss resting him on occasion to save wear and tear. Tulowitzki was out of the lineup Sunday, which would've been his last appearance at Coors Field in a Rockies uniform.

Asked about Friday's non-waiver trade deadline before leaving town, Tulowitzki responded: "I don't worry about it. I've been through it multiple times. My job is to play for the Rockies. I signed up to play here for a long time. Until they tell me differently, which they haven't, I plan on being here."

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AP Baseball Writer Janie McCauley in San Francisco, and AP Sports Writer Jay Cohen and freelance writer Brian Sandalow in Chicago contributed to this report.

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Will the 2019 and 2020 free-agent classes stir things up the way this one hasn’t?

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Will the 2019 and 2020 free-agent classes stir things up the way this one hasn’t?

There’s an old Magnum, P.I. episode called “Home at Sea”. Magnum has been knocked off his surf ski after a too-close speedboat zips by, leaving him alone to survive in the water. His mind wanders. Flashbacks from childhood, the war, and his family, fill his head. He’s treading water and waiting.

Things are not life-and-death severe during this offseason as the baseball world wades through what has become the sigh-inducing drudgery of free agency. But, big names remain unsigned, reduced to sending out social media pings via a hat (Manny Machado seen in the background of a video in a White Sox lid) or tweet (Bryce Harper having fun with everyone’s emotions by making weather jokes or referencing Tony Romo’s prognostication abilities).

What we don’t have — yet — are results. Everyone is just treading water. Which leads to thoughts beyond today. In particular, the coming free agents in 2019 and 2020.

This class was supposed to be epic. Harper, Machado, Clayton Kershaw, Josh Donaldson. Cy Young and MVP winners along with young, generational talents. A mix rarely, if ever, seen before.

(Jose Fernandez, the talented young pitcher in Miami, was also expected to play a major role in this free agency class before he tragically died in 2016 at the age of 24.)

Instead, ongoing shrugs and muted exuberance have met this market, which gives next year a chance to deliver comparative heat. Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Anthony Rendon, J.D. Martinez, Marcell Ozuna, Gerritt Cole, Chris Sale, Kenley Jansen, Justin Verlander and Madison Bumgarner could all be available. Even Stephen Strasburg could join them in the unlikely situation he exercises his first opt-out.

That grouping would be more well-rounded than the current top-heavy one. It also could suffer from the same lack of investment occurring now, which has already begun underground rumblings about the pending fight between players and owners once the collective bargaining agreement expires after the 2021 season.

Several things need to align in order for the 2019-20 free agency crowd to be awash in such prominent names. Martinez, Jansen and Strasburg would have to opt-out. Rendon would need to make it through the season without signing a contract extension in Washington, something both sides are working on and open to.

Though, if everyone hits, around-the-diamond needs will be filled.

Need a third baseman? The best and arguably second-best are available.

Need a top-of-the-rotation starter? Sale, Bumgarner, Verlander and Cole are there. 

Need a reliever? Jansen or Dellin Betances would be there.

The class also has interesting middle depth: Yasiel Puig, Khris Davis, Michael Wacha, Miles Mikolas, Brett Gardner, Matt Kemp, Scooter Gennett, Jose Abreu, Ryan Zimmerman (if the Nationals do not pick up his $18 million option). 

Another monster class hits the following year. Mike Trout, Mookie Betts and Jacob deGrom can become free agents after the 2020 season. George Springer, Robbie Ray, James Paxton and J.T. Realmuto are also in the mix. Even Giancarlo Stanton could hop in by opting out, though who would want to leave that contract?

Languishing negotiations from Harper and Machado have led us here, treading water and wondering what’s to come. It at least sounds interesting. We’ll see if it turns out to be so.

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Baseball Hall of Fame Results 2019: Rivera makes history with first ever unanimous induction

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Baseball Hall of Fame Results 2019: Rivera makes history with first ever unanimous induction

The question coming in was this: three or four?

Two locks were set to be voted into the Hall of Fame on Tuesday: Legendary New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, who became the first player to be named on 100 percent of the ballots cast, and starting pitcher Roy Halladay, both first-ballot Hall of Famers.

Seattle’s Edgar Martinez was expected to finally make it. He did with 85.4 percent of the vote.

That left Mike Mussina, 49 votes short last year, to hold his breath this time. He made it, narrowly, with 76.7 percent.

Mussina spent spent 10 years in Baltimore chasing 20 wins and providing annual durability before joining the New York Yankees for eight more seasons. Longevity and consistency keyed his entrance into the Hall of Fame. Mussina made 30 or more starts 12 times on his way to a career 123 ERA-plus. Only three times across almost two decades was Mussina’s ERA-plus below league average. All that work allowed him to compile 3,562 ⅔ innings pitched, 2,813 strikeouts and a 1.192 WHIP.

Rivera dominated the league with a single signature pitch, his cutter, for 19 years. His preferred music of “Enter Sandman” ran counter to Rivera’s pleasant and forthcoming demeanor off the field. He viewed the accidental discovery of his cutter as a gift from God, which made him willing to share information about the pitch with whomever asked. The slim right-hander anchored one of baseball’s great winning runs while with the Yankees. Rivera is a 13-time All-Star who owns five World Series rings. His 205 career ERA-plus is an all-time record as is his 652 saves, which is more than 50 ahead of second place and a record unlikely to be broken.

The wait, and push, for Martinez was extensive. Martinez find himself at the core of an ongoing debate about Hall of Fame candidacy for designated hitters. He didn’t become a full-time player in the major leagues until age 27. He was perpetually on base from there until his age-41 season, delivering a career OPS of .933 and on-base percentage of .418. Martinez walked more than he struck out 10 times in his 18-year career, finishing with more bases on balls than whiffs. Seattle denizens long pushed for his conclusion. It took the maximum 10 years, but Martinez is finally in.

Halladay’s inclusion is a bittersweet moment. The right-hander died Nov. 7, 2017, when a small plane he was piloting crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. He previously told reporters his possible Hall of Fame induction would be a “tremendous honor.” Halladay twice won the Cy Young award — once in each league — made eight All-Star teams, and finished with a 3.38 ERA. He also threw a perfect game and in 2010 became the second pitcher in history to throw a postseason no-hitter.

The central characters from baseball’s so-called “steroid era” remain on the outside. Roger Clemens (59.5 percent) in his seventh ballot and Barry Bonds (59.1 percent) remain well below the 75 percent threshold for enshrinement following slight increases from 2018 voting. Curt Schilling (60.9 percent) and Larry Walker (54.6 percent) also moved up significantly in year-over-year voting. Fred McGriff moved up in his final year on the ballot, however remained well short. He should get in when considered by the Today’s Game Era Committee based on their recent selection of Harold Baines.

 

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