The New York Yankees have agreed to terms with free agent infielder Troy Tulowitzki, the team announced on Friday. In order to open a spot on the 40-man roster for Tulowitzki, the Yankees designated right-hander A.J. Cole for assignment.
The New York Yankees today announced that they have signed SS Troy Tulowitzki to a 1-year major league contract.— New York Yankees (@Yankees) January 4, 2019
Tulowitzki missed all of the 2018 season because of heel problems, but he's looking for a healthy rebound in 2019. He's going into his age-34 campaign, but as recently as 2017 put up an OPS+ of 102 with a WAR of 3.4. He received MVP votes as recently as 2014. If healthy -- granted, a sizeable if -- he should still be able to put up average-ish offensive numbers while remaining an asset with the glove. As ESPN's Jeff Passan points out, the Blue Jays are on the hook for almost all of the money left on Tulowitzki's contract, which means the Yankees will fork over just the league minimum to sign him. That's huge for a contender still trying to negotiate the luxury-tax threshold.
More from Passan:
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.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 2, 2019
Didi Gregorius isn't expected back before June. Tulo's presence in the lineup will allow phenom Gleyber Torres to remain at second base. As mentioned, frontline free agent Manny Machado remains a Yankee target, but the signing of Tulowitzki makes the Yankees a bit less desperate for Machado's services. If the Yankees do sign Machado, then they'll have a crowded infield situation once Gregorius returns. And that's to say nothing of the fact that Miguel Andujar -- frequent subject of trade rumors -- is still a Yankee at this writing.
In the end, though, Tulowitzki represents a low-risk, high-reward move by a team with strong designs on the World Series.