NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Yankees may have an intriguing fall-back plan if they miss out on free agent Manny Machado.
With Didi Gregorius likely to miss at least half of the 2019 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, the Bombers need a shortstop. The obvious answer is to pay Machado, who was scheduled to meet with the team on Wednesday in the Bronx, big bucks and then possibly move him to third base once Gregorius returns.
But if after the meeting general manager Brian Cashman doesn’t feel compelled to offer Machado the 10-year, $300 million-plus contract he is reportedly looking for, or the 26-year-old slugger decides he’s not going to sign for less, the Yankees could turn their attention to a player who appears to still have serious upside and will cost them basically nothing.
The 34-year-old infielder, whose career was derailed by multiple injuries, was recently released by the Toronto Blue Jays, despite being owed $38 million over the next three seasons.
When at his best with the Colorado Rockies from 2009-11, Tulowitzki hit a combined .304 and averaged 30 homers and 97 RBIs, but he has not displayed his former All-Star form since 2014. He was traded to Toronto in 2015 and appeared in just 197 games over the next two seasons before missing the entire 2018 season due to surgery for bone spurs in both heels.
The Yankees reportedly were one of 11 teams to attend the five-time All-Star’s workout at Long Beach State in California on Tuesday. Tulowitzki, a career .290 hitter with 224 home runs and 779 RBIs in 12 MLB seasons, was said to look “light on his feet” by Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown. He took grounders and batting practice and, by all accounts, passed every test.
“I think I needed to get myself right, mentally and physically,” Tulowitzki said. “I took a year off to get myself right. I’m looking forward to playing the game I love.”
Assuming Tulowitzki is as healthy as advertised, he could end up being one of the best low-risk/high-reward signings in recent memory. He will have no shortage of suitors.
Tulowitzki has also made it clear that he has an affinity for the Yankees. He grew up idolizing legend Derek Jeter and while on the disabled list back in 2014 was actually spotted in the stands at Yankee Stadium watching the former captain play.
Prior to the All-Star Game that year he said it would be a “perfect story” for him to take over at short for the Yankees after Jeter retired.