Trade talks between Rockies, Red Sox end
DENVER -- Rockies owner Charlie Monfort insisted the team was not going to just give Todd Helton away for nothing, and now it looks like trade talks between Colorado and the Boston Red Sox have ended.
"This is not a trade that we were anxious to complete, but we are always exploring ways to improve our team," Monfort said in a statement. "Discussions like these regarding a player of Todd's talent and character are never easy, and it's not surprising we were not able to reach an agreement. Todd has been and will continue to be an important part of our franchise, and we can't wait to see him with the rest of the Rockies in Tucson."
Monfort said the Red Sox would have had to part with pitching prospects in addition to third baseman Mike Lowell and reliever Julian Tavarez, players Boston already had offered in exchange for the 33-year-old slugger.
"This is Todd Helton we're talking about," Monfort told The Associated Press on Monday. "We're not just going to give him up for nothing."
Monfort didn't return a call to the AP seeking comment Monday night on why the talks were terminated.
"We won't have any comment on the situation," Red Sox spokesman John Blake said.
Colorado would have paid a good chunk of the $90.1 million left on Helton's contract, a deal that includes salaries of $16.6 million in each of the next four seasons, $19.1 million in 2011 and a $4.6 million buyout of a $23 million team option for 2012. The amount the Rockies would pay wasn't a sticking point in talks, Monfort said. Rather, it was the players Colorado coveted in return for the Rockies' most recognizable player.
Helton has a no-trade clause but was willing to waive it to play in Boston.
"I've been in this business for 15 years and 1 percent of these deals get done. We want to do right by Todd," Monfort said. "We're planning on winning the division and we'd rather do it with Todd."
Although the savings would allow the Rockies to address other areas, Monfort said he's not solely seeking financial flexibility in dangling Helton.
"We're not just looking to save money," he said. "I'd consider it a salary dump if we didn't have anybody there who could play first base, and we do. I'm not saying they're Todd Helton by any means. And they'd have some huge shoes to fill. But we have some guys there, a little bit of a logjam."
Monfort said he realizes fans don't want to see Helton and the Rockies part ways, and he doesn't relish that prospect, either.
"It would be so tough to see Todd go. We drafted him. He's a great guy, he has a ranch 15 minutes from my house," Monfort said. "This one is tough. We had Vinny Castilla and Andres Galarraga, but they weren't with us as long as Todd. And Todd's a friend of mine.
"We're not doing cartwheels over here at Coors Field over this, believe me."
After averaging 35 homers and 117 RBIs over the previous seven seasons, Helton's numbers dipped in 2005, when he hit .320 with 20 homers and 79 RBIs while he was playing with a bad back. He also made his first career trip to the disabled list with a strained calf.
An intestinal infection sent him to the DL again last May and he never regained his strength, weight or power stroke upon his return, finishing with just 15 homers, a .302 batting average and 81 RBIs.
Helton said recently he had finally gotten back to 210 pounds and that his strength and stamina had returned. The Red Sox were encouraged by his clean bill of health.
While Monfort said tying up 30 percent of the team's projected $55 million payroll this season isn't a good business model, he wouldn't mind seeing a healthy Helton batting cleanup for Colorado in 2007, either.
"We'd love to have Todd here and get to a World Series with Todd in a Rockies uniform and we believe we can get there," Monfort said. "It's not like a couple of years ago when we were just plugging holes. We feel we can win this division and that makes this a little more difficult."
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.