Yankees sign Troy Tulowitzki to league minimum and what it means

TORONTO, ON - JUNE 27: Troy Tulowitzki #2 of the Toronto Blue Jays throws out the baserunner in the third inning during MLB game action against the Baltimore Orioles at Rogers Centre on June 27, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JUNE 27: Troy Tulowitzki #2 of the Toronto Blue Jays throws out the baserunner in the third inning during MLB game action against the Baltimore Orioles at Rogers Centre on June 27, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

With the Blue Jays still on the hook for $38 million, the Yankees signed shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to a low-risk, high-reward veterans minimum contract.

The boy that grew up in Southern California idolizing Derek Jeter, even wearing his iconic No. 2 during his 12-year major league career will now get the opportunity to play in the same uniform as his one-time idol. Pending a physical, Troy Tulowitzki will sign a one-year, $555k deal with the Yankees to hold down shortstop until Didi Gregorius’ return sometime in the latter part of the summer.

According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, inking Tulo does not preclude the Yanks from their continued pursuit of four-time All-Star, Manny Machado.

"Troy Tulowitzki is expected to play shortstop for the Yankees while Didi Gregorius recovers from Tommy John surgery. Important: This does not take the Yankees out of the Manny Machado sweepstakes, sources tell ESPN. Tulowitzki at the minimum salary was simply too good to pass up.If the Yankees do land Machado, they could play him at third base and either trade third baseman Miguel Andujar or consider using him at first base.More from Yankees NewsCarlos Correa-Giants-Mets bombshell makes Aaron Judge’s return to Yankees even betterDid Yankees troll Jon Heyman with Aaron Judge contract tweet?Matt Carpenter leaving Yankees for massive raise is hard to argue withYankees top prospects butt heads after Giants’ gritty win over CommandersCC Sabathia defends Yankees’ massive Aaron Judge contract"

For those that suggest signing Tulo, a guy that has only played a total of 66 games the past two seasons, immediately impedes the Yanks from landing Machado — that doesn’t appear to be the case.

Bob Nightengale of USA Today went so far as to report that the Bombers informed Machado and his representatives, that they intended to sign Tulowitzki two full days ago. This would be around the time Machado now infamously followed and then soon unfollowed the Yes Network on Instagram.

As for Tulo, the Yankees were one of a dozen teams in attendance two weeks ago, as the five-time All-Star held a private workout to show he still has something left in the tank. So assuming he fell into the Yanks’ lap is unjust, especially when other clubs would have likely allowed Tulo to start at shortstop without the ticking clock of an everyday player returning from injury.

While productivity remains to be seen, Tulo signing with his favorite childhood team is more than just the conclusion of a feel-good story. Yes, he’s a bridge to Gregorius’ return from Tommy John surgery, but there’s no saying Sir Didi will hit the ground running this season.

Setbacks are something that general manager Brian Cashman is accustomed to by now (Jacoby Ellsbury, Greg Bird), so bringing in a player with Tulowitzki’s pedigree is a wise decision that comes with significant upside. Remember, Didi also becomes a free agent after this season.

At the age of 34, no one expects Tulo to have the same lateral movement, or lightning quick bat speed that he did in 2106 when he suited up in 131 contests. If he did, he’d still be in Toronto.

However, smart players don’t forget how the game is played — and having another leader in the clubhouse will only aid in the maturation process of an immensely talented group of youngsters.

Roster flexibility is also the order of the day, as Tulo’s placement in New York allows Gleyber Torres to continue his development at second base.

Though Machado’s potential signing could signal a change in position (or team) for Miguel Andujar, once Didi returns, should Tulo, the two-time Silver Slugger, prove his bat is still alive and well, manager Aaron Boone can further maneuver his lineup — slotting Giancarlo Stanton in left field and Tulo as the DH.

And according to Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports, the former Long Beach State product has expressed a willingness to play positions other than short. Brown also says that Tulo was looking for a club where he would receive regular at-bats.

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Best case scenario, Tulo produces like it’s 2015 all over again (his last All-Star season) and makes himself an invaluable member of the Yankees’ quest for No. 28. Also, should the Yanks miss out on Machado, he only further cushions the fall.

Worst case scenario, if Tulowitzki is a shell of his former self, the Yankees would have spent a little over half a million dollars on a player worth taking a flyer on. The organization could then cut him loose without worrying about luxury tax implications as they did in 2018.