With the Blue Jays having released him while he was still under contract for $38 million through 2020, Troy Tulowitzki was in the unique position of being able to choose his next team without thinking about money at all. He could sign with a team for the big league minimum and still get paid the rest by the Blue Jays.
The Cubs were among the interested teams, which made sense given their cost-effective winter and potential needs in the middle infield. Depending on what happens with Addison Russell, there could be a surprising amount of playing time for a guy who bounces back. And since there is virtually no cost to take the chance on Tulowitzki, I liked it a lot.
Alas, Tulowitzki has chosen the Yankees:
Free agent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is in agreement on a deal with the New York Yankees pending a physical, league sources tell ESPN. Tulowitzki is expected to join the Yankees on a league-minimum deal, with the Toronto Blue Jays paying the remainder of his $20 million salary.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 2, 2019
It’s an interesting choice of location for Tulowitzki, who was believed to want to play closer to the West Coast (nope) on a competitive team (yep) where he had a chance to be a regular starter (eh). Although the Yankees can presently offer Tulowitzki a starting job at shortstop because of Didi Gregorius’s Tommy John absences, they are still pursuing Manny Machado – and are probably the clear favorite for him. Machado would immediately bump Tulowitzki to the bench, unless he’s going to start at first base or something. Throw in the fact that Gregorius is returning at midseason and it’s not the clearest path to a full season of playing time for Tulowitzki as he looks to bounce back from a lost season and a half.
Then again, as we’ve discussed, there was not going to be a competitive team out there that could offer him a full-time starting job right out of the gate anyway, and with the Yankees, if they don’t land Machado, the situation is a lot like the Cubs. Tulowitzki will have a chance to start at shortstop for a while if he shows he can still hack it. With the Cubs, that chance may have only been a little over a month, before Addison Russell returns from suspension. With the Yankees, it might be more like a half of a season.
… unless the Yankees sign Machado.
Since Tulowitzki costs the Yankees only the league minimum, this obviously will not preclude them landing Machado, and isn’t even a sign about their expectations of landing him. Tulowitzki could just wind up a pure bench piece, and it would be a “sorry about your choice, Tulo” situation. Does he know something about Machado that other people don’t? Or is he just fine with being on the bench?
Would have liked to see the Cubs get him in the door for Spring Training to see what he could do, but I guess he wanted to be a Yankee.