The big Tulowitzki contract will obviously be viewed as a very positive move by the Rockies fanbase that already loves Tulo and was skeptical ownership would invest to keep guys like him, but there are some points to the contrary also that suggest we may have jumped the gun here unnecessarily.
According to reports, "it'd be the largest deal ever for a player with less than two years of service time, eclipsing the one Grady Sizemore signed two years ago."
Largest contract ever for a player of this experience level? I love Tulo and all, but that may be stretching things a bit. At least we can't be accused of being cheap here.
Tulo has an amazing gun and range in the field, but for these prices he needs to become one of our offensive leaders also. If it is only defense in the hole you crave, you can find an all-glove journeyman with a lesser bat for much less cabbage. You could even get arguably the best defensive SS, Adam Everett, who was non-tendered by his former team and could have easily been signed by anyone to a one-year deal for $2-3 million or so.
Maybe Tulo becomes the very best in the field now, but the point remains that it certainly doesn't take $30 million and a long commitment to buy yourself good defense. And rightfully so, the Rox don't want him for just the glove/arm either -- nor should they if they are going to sign him to a record breaking deal. They view him as a strong young hitter who will play a key role in their offense also, as well as being a team leader and the face of the franchise for years ahead. He could not only be one of the best fielders, but also put up some of the best offensive numbers at his position as well. That's expecting a lot, but on first impressions it seems quite possible. He's certainly worth going all out to keep him here.
But right now to such a large deal, and before he's further proven himself at the plate?
To me, Tulo doesn't seem like a player who would develop bad feelings toward the franchise if they didn't give him a monster deal early in his career (actually quite the opposite as a real team player). Maybe the additional money he's getting in the next few seasons would have been better invested in a top reliever to supplement the team's playoff run while they still have Holliday and Tulo inexpensively.
While quite possibly good for the long-term, it doesn't seem like the best way to optimize the team for a playoff run in 2008 and 2009 before you might lose your MVP. By then, you would be looking at raises for Tulo in arbitration and could use Holliday's money to sign him to that big deal. On the other hand, if they wait perhaps they don't get him for near today's price if he keeps progressing. But players don't always improve...
Angel Berroa won Rookie of the Year in 2003, hitting .287 with 17 HRs. That's just a bit below Tulo in Coors Field his rookie year at the plate. KC gave him a nice 4-year contract in 2004 where he'll earn nearly $5M this upcoming season and nearly $6M next year. Was that a good investment as the Royals recently designated him for assignment and he spends most of his seasons now in AAA? Tulo's certainly better than him in many ways, but on a smaller scale the Royals invested prematurely in their rookie award winner at SS also which turned out to be a poor decision. Sometimes it is better to wait and see how things develop before writing the check, especially when you are a franchise on tighter budgets.
But I can't criticize the Rockies too much here. This does feel like progress, and I will enjoy having Tulo around for years. There is another side to consider, though, and it is possible that this will not look like such a good deal down the road as it seems today -- especially if Tulo regresses at the plate and we are left praising him for his defense alone when writing those big checks while other teams can pick up the Adam Everetts of the world without too much trouble.