Bombers To Start 5-Time All-Star At Shortstop, Unless They Land Coveted Superstar Free Agent Shortstop

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Things are getting very interesting in the Bronx.

According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the Yankees won the Troy Tulowitzki sweepstakes on Tuesday night, agreeing to a one-year contract with the five-time All-Star shortstop that will pay him the league minimum of $555,000.

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The move, which is contingent on Tulowitzki passing a physical, apparently will not impact the Bombers’ pursuit of superstar free agent Manny Machado. The slugging shortstop/third baseman is expected to make his decision on where he will play next season any day.

Troy Tulowitzki

Troy Tulowitzki reacts after hitting a solo home run against the Minnesota Twins on Aug. 4, 2015 at Rogers Centre in Toronto. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

This low-risk, high-reward maneuver by the Yankees was facilitated by the fact that the Toronto Blue Jays owe Tulowitzki $38 million after releasing him in early December. The Jays will pay the 34-year-old roughly $20 million in 2019 and are responsible for the remaining $18 million over the next two years.

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Once one of the best infielders in baseball, Tulowitzki hit hard times after being traded by Colorado to Toronto in 2015. Injuries derailed what was shaping up to be a Hall of Fame-level career as he appeared in just a combined 197 games in 2016 and ’17 before missing all of this past season due to surgery for bone spurs in both heels.

When at his best with the Rockies from 2009-11, Tulowitzki hit a combined .304 and averaged 30 homers and 97 RBIs.

The Yankees reportedly were one of 11 teams to attend his workout at Long Beach State in California on Dec. 18. Tulowitzki, a career .290 hitter with 224 home runs and 779 RBIs in 12 MLB seasons, was said to have impressed everyone with his footwork. He took grounders and batting practice and, by all accounts, passed every test.

Tulowitzki, right now, figures to slot in at shortstop for injured Didi Gregorius, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery and is not expected back until the All-Star break. If the Yankees do land Machado, a natural shortstop, they could move the 26-year-old, four-time All-Star to third, where he has also proven to be quite adept. In that scenario, the Bombers could then either trade Rookie of the Year finalist Miguel Andujar or move him to first base.

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Regardless, the addition of Tulowitzki, at the very least, strengthens New York’s bench.