What do you do if you’re a club trying to make upgrades on a tight budget? You look at quietly interesting upside utility men like Daniel Descalso, and former superstars who will only cost the league minimum:
Cubs are one of the teams that has at least been in contact with Tulo, and they will send a scout to a workout. There are others though, so they aren’t necessarily the favorite. His agent told @susanslusser there are 6 teams and they will narrow field soon.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 15, 2018
Because the Blue Jays released Troy Tulowitzki, signing him – even if to a big league contract – will only cost the signing team the Major League minimum salary. In other words, it’s an extremely low risk move, outside of having to devote a 40-man roster spot to him through Spring Training.
To that end, if you can get Tulowitzki in the door, it’s not a lock that you’d be giving him playing time next year, as a starter or even in a bench role. Ideally, you sign him because you want to work with him in the spring and evaluate him from there. That way, if he’s healthy and effective, you’re the team that gets to deploy him.
… but is he going to be healthy and effective?
Now 34, Tulowitzki has played very little over the past two years (just 66 games in 2017, none in 2018) thanks to an ankle injury and surgery to remove bone spurs in his feet. In 2016, Tulowitzki was just average at the plate, but well above-average defensively at shortstop. His last excellent year – the Tulo you remember (great glove, great bat) – was all the way back in 2014.
Tulowitzki still prefers to play shortstop, though his agent says he’s willing to consider other roles – being on a winning team is his priority. On the Cubs, there is a theoretically wide open middle infield position (either shortstop or second base, depending on where the Cubs use Javy Baez, and depending on how often Ben Zobrist starts) for the first month-plus of the season, while Addison Russell is suspended. And if Russell is ultimately traded, then there’s even more room.
Could he really be a starter at this point? I doubt it. But could you sell him on there being a possibility of that with the Cubs to open the season? Sure, why not? Maybe he shows up in the spring finally healthy and surprises? Or maybe he does enough to be a really nice veteran utility player?
The upside here is unlikely to be realized. Let’s be honest. But the downside is basically nothing. I’m on board. Sign Tulo.