Yankees Taking a Chance on Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki
There was a time when the Yankees landing Troy Tulowitzki would have been trumpeted — an All-Star shortstop treading the same patch of Yankee Stadium dirt as his boyhood idol, Derek Jeter.
Now, though, the union carries more pragmatism than pomp.
The Yankees need a shortstop to replace the injured Didi Gregorius for several months, and Tulowitzki, who has missed a year and half with injuries and was released by the Toronto Blue Jays last month, needs a place to resurrect his career.
And so the Yankees are taking a low-risk flier, signing Tulowitzki to a one-year, major-league-minimum contract, pending a physical. The agreement, first reported by ESPN late Tuesday night, was confirmed by a baseball official who was not authorized to speak publicly about the deal until it is completed.
The agreement does not preclude the Yankees from signing the free-agent infielder Manny Machado, but it does give an indication that they have reservations about meeting an asking price that is expected to be in the 10-year, $300 million range.
Machado met with the Yankees, the Chicago White Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies before Christmas.
Tulowitzki, 34, was once considered one of the best shortstops in baseball, earning National League Gold Gloves and Silver Slugger Awards in 2010 and 2011. But since then, he has struggled to stay healthy, and his performance has suffered.
Four times in the last seven seasons, Tulowitzki has played 91 games or fewer. When he stepped on the foot of Los Angeles Angels first baseman C.J. Cron midway through the 2017 season, he injured ankle ligaments badly enough that he missed the remainder of the year. At the time, he was carrying a .678 on-base plus slugging percentage, his worst since he made his major league debut at age 21 in 2006.
Then, last spring, he had bone spurs removed from both heels and ended up missing the entire 2018 season.
Toronto released Tulowitzki on Dec. 11, eating the final $38 million on his contract. The Yankees will pay him the minimum, $555,000, which will be deducted from the $20 million the Blue Jays owe him this season.
If Tulowitzki is the opening-day shortstop, it will allow the Yankees to keep Gleyber Torres at second base, where he excelled last season as a rookie. In searching for a temporary replacement for Gregorius, who is expected to miss three to five months while recovering from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, the Yankees had been open to moving Torres to shortstop, if they found a second baseman who was a better fit.