So, this is a pretty interesting report in the wake of Troy Tulowitzki’s somewhat surprising decision to choose the Yankees as his hopeful comeback stage:
So it turns out the Cubs wanted Tulowitzki to be their starting shortstop, per sources. So did the Pirates. 14 other teams were on him.
Now ask yourself this: Why would Tulo pick the Yankees if not to be the Opening Day SS instead of Machado?https://t.co/cvcuvpLYOq
— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) January 4, 2019
The main thrust of that article is that Tulowitzki would only choose the Yankees if he felt they weren’t going to sign Manny Machado, since he had other starting opportunities.
One of those opportunities, according to SNY, was the Cubs: “The Cubs pursued Tulowitzki to be their starting shortstop, at a minimum for the duration of Addison Russell’s domestic violence suspension, according to sources.”
Part of the reason we liked the fit of Tulowitzki with the Cubs is because they would have the *opportunity* for him to fill in as the shortstop while Addison Russell was suspended, and if he should somehow have the magic back in April, then the Cubs could ship out Russell before he even returns.
That said, I’m not sure I would have ever characterized my thoughts as an *expectation* that Tulowitzki would definitely be the Cubs’ starting shortstop in April, and it would surprise me a great deal if the Cubs aggressively made any promises in that direction. Moreover, if the Cubs did make those promises, it sure would be surprising that Tulowitzki would still choose the Yankees, knowing that they’re the strong favorites to add Manny Machado (as the SNY article gets into).
It always struck me as far more likely, even if the Cubs landed Tulowitzki, that they’d be far more likely to use Javy Baez at shortstop to open the year, and a combo of Ben Zobrist and Daniel Descalso at second base. If Tulo were at short, you’d very often have some good bats on the bench – not a problem if Tulo bounced all the way back, but those odds are very, very long. Remember: Tulowitzki, now 34, hasn’t been great since 2014, hasn’t been a solid starter since 2016, and hasn’t played at all in a game since mid-2017. He’s a flyer.
So what do we make of this report? Is it possible the Cubs wanted to land Tulowitzki now, and believed in his recovery so strongly, that they were ready to jettison Russell in any case? Does it instead mean the Cubs are opposed to making Javy Baez the full-time shortstop? Or even part-time shortstop? Or does this report kinda play it fast and loose with what the Cubs were really willing to offer Tulowitzki – i.e., a *chance* to win the starting shortstop job to open the season?
In the end, I tend to think Tulowitzki’s decision simply came down to a long-time apparent desire to play for the Yankees, a hope that they wouldn’t ultimately sign Manny Machado, and a chance to win a shortstop job for at least the first half of the year. With the Cubs, it’s possible Tulo couldn’t win the shortstop job in the Spring even totally ignoring Addison Russell, because of Javy Baez. Maybe he just didn’t believe the Cubs actually wanted him to start at shortstop out of the gate.
That is all to say, if you read the SNY report as saying the Cubs are out there looking for a new, full-time starting shortstop right now … I would suggest that probably goes way too far.