Friday: The Yankees announced the Tulowitzki signing earlier today, so it’s a done deal. No word on his number. Tulowitzki wore No. 2 with the Rockies and Blue Jays because he idolizes Derek Jeter. No. 2 is retired and No. 22 is taken (Jacoby Ellsbury). The Yankees could give him No. 12 and bump Tyler Wade to No. 14, which is the number he wanted last year before the Neil Walker signing. Well, whatever. Tulowitzki’s number is a #thingtowatch.
“I can’t say what it would take us out of, but we’re going into this with a commitment level to try Troy Tulowitzki at shortstop,” said Brian Cashman during a conference call, adding it’s been made clear Didi Gregorius will be the starting shortstop when he returns. It’s been reported that, if the Yankees manage to sign Manny Machado, they would play him at third base and Tulowitzki at short. Also, it turns out Tulowitzki had multiple workouts for the Yankees before signing.
To clear a spot on the 40-man roster, righty A.J. Cole was designated for assignment. He had a nice little two-month run last season after coming over from the Nationals in a cash trade, but he really fell apart in the second half, and Cole finished the year with a 4.26 ERA (4.92 FIP) in 38 innings in pinstripes. He did have a 29.2% strikeout rate, so that’s cool. My guess is Cole will be traded for cash or a player to be named later. I don’t think he’ll clear waivers and remain in the organization a non-40-man roster player.
Tuesday: According to Jeff Passan, the Yankees have agreed to a one-year deal with free agent infielder Troy Tulowitzki. The contract is pending a physical, which is no small thing given his injury history. The Blue Jays released Tulowitzki last month and still owe him $38M the next two years. The Yankees are only responsible for the pro-rated portion of the league minimum ($555,000).
Tulowitzki, 34, has not played since July 2017 due to various injuries, including a pair of heel surgeries. He hit .249/.300/.378 (79 wRC+) in 260 plate appearances when healthy two years ago. The Yankees have never been shy about bringing in former stars as reclamation projects (Darryl Strawberry, Eric Chavez, etc.) and Tulowitzki fits the mold. Watch him hit .300/.350/.475 or something.
Passan says that while Tulowitzki is expected to play shortstop while Didi Gregorius rehabs from Tommy John surgery, the signing doesn’t take the Yankees out of the running for Manny Machado. It’s a low cost, low risk signing that’s easy to back out of should a better option come along. This signing is more about adding depth than bringing in a no-doubt solution to the middle infield situation.
It’s worth noting that, when he worked out for scouts last month, Tulowitzki said he’s willing to play second or third base, but he doesn’t want to be a utility man. If he makes the Opening Day roster, either he’s going to start somewhere or he’s had a change of heart about the whole utility player thing. We’ll see. Anyway, one or two clutch doubles and you’ll all love him.