CHICAGO -- The New York Mets have not yet written off range-challenged Wilmer Flores as their No. 1 shortstop, although Ruben Tejada recently has started to chip away at least modestly at Flores’ playing time. Flores, in fact, has a team-leading four home runs.
Still, the consensus among in-the-know observers is the Mets at some point will need to pull the trigger and obtain a top-tier shortstop if they truly plan to capitalize on their standout pitching and contend before prospect Amed Rosario, 19, is ready to contribute in a couple of years.
The Amazin's rank 25th in the majors in runs scored, 23rd in batting average (.236), 28th in slugging percentage (.352) and 26th in homers (23).
Tulowitzki, 30, is hitting .298 with two homers and 11 RBIs in 104 at-bats with the Rockies this season. And although injury-prone, he has yet to miss a game for Colorado in 2015.
Still, as they have in the past, Mets insiders portray the Amazin's acquiring the four-time All-Star Tulowitzki as highly unlikely. They cite three factors:
Injury history. The past three seasons, Tulowitzki has been limited to 47, 126 and 91 games. He did not appear after July 19 last season because of a left-hip injury that required surgery.
Salary. The Mets have been slightly more liberal with their payroll. It is projected to exceed $100 million this season, up from $83 million a year ago. But the free-spending days have not yet returned. And Tulowitzki's salary, especially considering his injury history, is not something the Mets are eager to absorb. Tulowitzki is owed $20 million annually through 2019, then $14 million the following year. By the time a team option is reached for 2021, Tulowitzki will be 36 years old.
Trade package. The Mets have shown little inclination to part with a top MLB-ready pitcher, much less the package Colorado would demand.
A team that makes more sense in a potential trade may be the Chicago Cubs, since they are stocked with young cost-controlled middle infielders and can use a starting pitcher.
Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer acknowledged that this week, saying, via ESPNChicago.com: "We've had conversations with them. We haven't made a deal yet, but there have been matches that made sense, and I'm sure we'll talk to them in the future."
Still, even a deal with the Cubs faces a potential uphill battle. A Mets official recently was insistent that the organization would be unlikely to deal from their core of young, MLB-ready pitching in order to obtain even a similarly cost-controlled young infielder from the Cubs. If the Mets stick to that insistence, it makes you wonder why Hoyer and boss Theo Epstein would be inclined to deal with the Mets.