The Yankees are in agreement with five-time All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki on a league-minimum deal, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan:
Free agent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is in agreement on a deal with the New York Yankees pending a physical, league sources tell ESPN. Tulowitzki is expected to join the Yankees on a league-minimum deal, with the Toronto Blue Jays paying the remainder of his $20 million salary.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 2, 2019
Tulowitzki, 34, was released by the Blue Jays during last month’s Winter Meetings — a move that came as a surprise to many, despite the fact that he missed the entire 2018 season due to bone spurs in his right heel. The Blue Jays will owe him all but $555,000 (the aforementioned league minimum) of his $20 million salary for 2019. Depending on how the deal is structured, the Yankees could set it up like the Giants did with Pablo Sandoval’s deal after they brought him back in 2017, giving him a league-minimum club option for 2020 while the Blue Jays pay his $14 million salary for that season.
Tulowitzki, a two-time Gold Glover and two-time Silver Slugger who has posted a .290/.361/.495 career slash line, grew up idolizing Yankees legend Derek Jeter, and he’s worn No. 2 in his honor for 12 of his 13 seasons in the majors. (Ironically, he’ll now need a new number, since Jeter’s jersey is retired in New York.) For a time, he was thought to be the most likely successor to Jeter with the Yankees — first when he was an arbitration-eligible player who many believed the Rockies would not be able to retain, then after he signed a restrictive 10-year contract with a budget-conscious Colorado club. Brian Cashman openly admitted to Sports Illustrated in 2015 that he wanted to trade for Tulowitzki and make him Jeter’s successor in 2010. While he was on the disabled list in 2014 — Jeter’s final season — the shortstop created headlines when he attended a Yankees game as a spectator, saying he wanted to watch his childhood favorite player in person one more time. But Tulowitzki ultimately didn’t get traded to New York either time, signing the extension with Colorado in November 2010 and then getting dealt to the Blue Jays in July 2015.
Passan writes that Tulowitzki is expected to be the Yankees’ starting shortstop while Didi Gregorius recovers from Tommy John surgery, though those plans could change if they ultimately land Manny Machado (it’s also possible, of course, that the Bronx Bombers could play Machado at third base from the get-go, sliding Miguel Andujar to DH and Giancarlo Stanton to a corner-outfield spot). Obviously, that means the kid who grew up idolizing Jeter will get to live out what was surely a boyhood dream of playing shortstop in pinstripes.