DENVER (AP) – Troy Tulowitzki and the Colorado Rockies are looking ahead with 2020 vision.
The sides agreed Tuesday to a new contract that pays Tulowitzki an additional $132 million over seven seasons through 2020, a deal that means Colorado has guaranteed the All-Star shortstop $157.75 million in the next decade.
“I’m really lucky,” Tulowitzki said. “I can’t wait to be here my entire career.”
Tulowitzki wanted to be like his idol, Cal Ripken Jr., who played in just one city, and not his mentor, St. Louis slugger Matt Holliday, whose departure from Denver a couple of years ago after 11 years in the Rockies organization deeply affected him.
“I didn’t want that to happen to me,” Tulowitzki said. “I wanted to stay here for my career and not deal with all the other stuff. I’m sure he’s in a great place now and I know he’s happy but at the same time, this is where I want to be.”
Tulowitzki’s 10-year contract is the eighth-highest in baseball history, trailing two of Alex Rodriguez’s deals ($275 million and $252 million) and agreements for Derek Jeter ($189 million), Jose Mauer ($184 million), Mark Teixeira ($180 million), CC Sabathia ($161 million) and Manny Ramirez ($160 million).
The genesis of the extension was a heart-to-heart talk with general manager Dan O’Dowd in his office at season’s end.
“They were just discussions about life,” O’Dowd said. “The maturity of understanding the continuity and stability of things and what he’s trying to become as a man led me to say to our owner, ‘I think maybe we should explore this right now.”‘
A second chat in O’Dowd’s office, this time with team owner Dick Monfort sitting in, got the negotiating started on the deal.
“I said it definitely is a possibility I want to be here my whole career, but there’s a lot of things that have to work out, such as money, such as a commitment to winning,” Tulowitzki said. “And all the answers I received from the beginning stayed on a straight line. They never veered off. And they sold me.”
And the Rockies paid him.
Tulowitzki, 26, already had been guaranteed $25.75 million through 2013 under the $31 million, six-year contract he agreed to in January 2008.
Asked about the characterization that the Rockies ownership hasn’t been committed to winning, O’Dowd said: “I will say this, that we’re not committed to winning at all costs.”
“Maybe there’s a perception we’re not committed to winning because we don’t go out and do the Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle thing anymore, but if you didn’t notice that didn’t work out too well,” O’Dowd said of Colorado’s colossal contracts that blew up in the franchise’s face in the early 2000s. “And so we are committed to try to hold onto our own internal players before we hold onto anything external.”
Both sides are taking risks: Tulowitzki will be 35 by the time the contract expires and he could have some monster years during that time.
Despite missing 33 games with a broken wrist last season, Tulowitzki won his first Gold Glove and NL Silver Slugger awards after hitting .315 with 27 homers and 95 RBIs.
“They felt like they had a guy they wanted to be the face of the franchise and they came after him,” Tulowitzki said. “And on my side, I love the game and that’s more than enough money than I’ll ever need in my entire lifetime.”
Tulowitzki said he believes the Rockies are on the cusp of something big and that ownership promised him he won’t have to carry the load by himself.
The Rockies are hoping to have these kinds of big contract announcements regarding ace Ubaldo Jimenez and star slugger Carlos Gonzalez in winters to come, although it could prove an insurmountable challenge to keep both of them in purple pinstripes beyond 2014, when they would become free agents.
The Rockies are close to securing prized left-hander Jorge De La Rosa for a couple of years, keeping one of the most sought-after arms on the open market from leaving Denver. O’Dowd said there was still some issues to be ironed out, such as getting De La Rosa from his native Mexico to Denver for a physical.
“De La Rosa was a huge acquisition for us,” Tulowitzki said. “You’re talking about a guy that we had that has top-notch stuff. A lot of teams were after him but at the end of the day he kind of realized like I did that you don’t get what you get here in every place.
“He loves playing here, I know that. He wanted to be a part of this for the next two or three years. I’m sure he turned down some money to stay here and that’s what it’s all about. If you want to make a commitment, do it. If you don’t, go and get the top dollar, but you might not be the happiest.”
Tulowitzki receives $5.5 million next year, $8.25 million in 2012 and $10 million in 2013 as part of his previous contract, which contained a $15 million team option for 2014 with a $2 million buyout.
Under the new deal, he receives $16 million in 2014, $20 million in each of the following five seasons and $14 million in 2020. Colorado gets a $14 million option for 2021 with a $4 million buyout.
In both 2020 and 2021, if it’s exercised, Tulowitzki’s salary could escalate by up to $6 million annually depending on his finish in MVP voting, whether he is an All-Star or earns Gold Glove or Silver Slugger awards and other criteria.
Tulowitzki has finished fifth in MVP voting the last two seasons.
“I want to be the best player in this game,” Tulowitzki said.
But more than that, he wants to win a World Series, and now he’s got 10 more chances to do it in Colorado.
“It’s an important day for our franchise,” O’Dowd said, “but hopefully we have a lot more important days in front of us.”
– By Arnie Stapleton, AP Sports Writer (AP Sports Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report)
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