The Yankees are still very much in the mix to land superstar free agent Manny Machado, even after signing Troy Tulowitzki to a one-year deal.
After the signing of Tulowitzki became official on Friday Yankees GM Brian Cashman held a conference call with local reporters to cover a handful of topics regarding his club. The biggest takeaway from the call was that the team is committed to trying Tulowitzki at shortstop even though they’re still considered by many to be the favorites to sign Machado.
In 2018, Machado shifted over to shortstop every day for the first time in his career, but if he wants to play for the Yankees next season it looks like he’s going to have to switch back to third base. During his time manning the hot corner, Machado excelled winning two gold gloves and the platinum glove in 2013.
There’s a chance that Machado would willingly shift back to his old position in order to sign with New York, but as we all know the Yankees already have a third baseman on their roster in Miguel Andujar. Andujar is coming off of one of the better offensive rookie seasons in franchise history, but he really struggled defensively which has many questioning whether he can stay there long term.
I believe he can because of his athleticism and work ethic but should the Yanks sign Machado he’d likely have to move over to first base or get traded. If that’s the case I’d very much like to see him try his hand at first base because I think the Yankees would be making a huge mistake trading him after the season he just had.
Andujar has a Machado type ceiling offensively and the great thing is he’s only set to make $545,000 in 2019 and he’s under team control through 2023. Trading him for an ace like Noah Syndergaard was a possibility earlier this offseason but the Yankees have now added James Paxton and reigned J.A Happ to give them a full five-man rotation. They also still have Sonny Gray who Cashman said the Yankees are going to trade, but it just might be awhile.
As for Tulo, it looks like he’s going to be Didi Gregorius’ short-term replacement at short to start the season as long as he can stay healthy. That’s obviously no guarantee given his recent history, but the Yankees believe the signing has a lot of upside based on how he looked during his open workout in November. So much so that they requested a private workout with Tulo a couple weeks after.
Going into the season with Tulo at shortstop might seem like a risky move, but it’s one Cashman said he’d be comfortable with. Per Wallace Matthews of the New York Post:
"“The one difference we’re going to have is not having Didi,’’ Cashman said. “But returning the rest of that infield that helped toward 100 wins, I feel good about it. I feel very comfortable with it.’’"
All offseason I’ve been against signing Machado mostly because of how it might impact the long-term futures of Didi or Andujar in pinstripes. A starting infield on Opening Day of Tulo at shortstop, Gleyber Torres at second, Luke Voit at first and Andujar at third looks pretty good to me.
Although I get the feeling that the longer Machado takes to sign with a new team the more likely it is he’ll be a Yankee in 2019.