Troy Tulowitzki is 34 years old and has played in only 66 games over the last two seasons, all of which came in 2017. The Blue Jays considered his outlook so bleak that they opted to choke down the entirety of his remaining two years and $38 million like the world’s most expensive crap sandwich. But as much as their you-know-what-eating grin should scare off most teams, the lure of a cheap contract is a come-hither stare for nearly a dozen clubs.
You see, the Jays absorbing the remaining money means a new team need only sign Tulo for the $555K league minimum. Heck, Cubs Insider could afford to bring him aboard to fetch coffee at such a pittance. In all seriousness, though, signing him for that little would be as close to a risk-free move as it gets.
If you consider the commonly-held calculation that a single win above replacement is worth $9 million, Tulowitzki need only generate around 0.06 WAR to justify his roster spot. So, basically what he put up in that injury-shortened 2017 campaign (0.1 fWAR). The Cubs have shown interest in the former All-Star shortstop and Tim Brown of Yahoo sports reported that they were present at his Tuesday workout in Long Beach, but could he really be an option for them?
We know from their acquisition of Daniel Murphy that they’re willing to employ athletes who are more statue than statuesque and we know from their dearth of acquisitions this winter that they’re looking for cheap moves. And though they’ve got plenty of depth when it comes to second base and the corners, shortstop is a thin position at this point.
Javy Baez has proven his worth there and is the de facto starter, especially as it’s looking more and more like Addison Russell may not have a spot even after serving out the remainder of his 40-game domestic violence suspension. Even if he’s a shell of his former self, Tulowitzki could be a bargain bench bat for a team that has voiced a desire to add both leadership and offensive depth.
Thing is, the Cubs don’t want or need Tulowitzki to play starter’s innings, and that may be the key. There’s also the matter of his preference for shortstop, which could well determine his landing spot.
“Troy would be willing to change positions,” Cohen told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle during the Winter Meetings. “He still sees himself as a shortstop and he grades out as a shortstop, but we did talk about the possibility of moving positions if he became a free agent.
“Location is one of the factors, and obviously he’s from the Bay Area — that would have a lot of interest for him,” Paul Cohen, Tulowitzki’s agent, told The Chronicle on Tuesday. “Winning is very important, and geography is an issue.”
Tulowitzki worked out only at short during his recent exhibition, though position isn’t the only factor. His agent, Paul Cohen, also said his client would prefer to stay near his Bay Area home, but geography isn’t the only factor. He’s never won a World Series, but winning isn’t the only factor. The Blue Jays are still paying him handsomely, so money isn’t a factor at all.
What it’ll likely come down to for Tulowitzki is which team can provide the best combination of all the factors listed above. Brown listed at least 10 teams in addition to the Cubs — Red Sox, Padres, Angels, Giants, White Sox, Orioles, Yankees, Phillies, Tigers, Pirates — as being at the workout, so the options aren’t limited. Some of those can probably be ruled out easily, but the Giants certainly check one big box.
Tulo’s in no rush, so who knows where this eventually ends up. But if I’m pulling the strings in the Cubs front office — which I’m not, even though I’m sure Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are loyal CI readers — I’m seeing what I can do to lure him to Chicago. If nothing else, it enables me to make further bad puns with his name.