Who's going to be the Cubs' starting shortstop at the outset of the 2019 season? Well, it won't be Troy Tulowitzki. But according to a report, that's who the Cubs wanted it to be before he signed with the New York Yankees.
According to SNY's Andy Martino, "the Cubs pursued Tulowitzki to be their starting shortstop, at a minimum for the duration of Addison Russell's domestic violence suspension."
Tulowitzki is viewed as a zero-risk move for the Yankees as they get a former All-Star shortstop with a couple Gold Gloves on his resume for the league-minimum salary. But according to Martino, the interest in Tulowitzki was hardly confined to The Bronx, with 16 teams either making a contract offer or showing interest. The Cubs, along with the division-rival Pittsburgh Pirates, were hoping to add Tulowitzki as their starting shortstop, with the Los Angeles Angels also named as an interested party.
The Cubs have some question marks at shortstop as Russell is slated to miss roughly the first month of the season while suspended by the league. While the Cubs insist that they're keeping Russell around and playing a part in his rehabilitation, that hasn't stopped people from wondering if Russell has played his final game in a Cubs uniform.
If that ends up being the case, the Cubs would likely lean on Javy Baez at shortstop and utilize a combination of Ben Zobrist, Ian Happ, recently acquired infielder Daniel Descalso at second base, with David Bote backing up Baez at short.
Theo Epstein's front office has made a habit of trying to find diamonds in the rough or turn cast-off veterans into contributors on winning rosters, and Tulowitzki would have been no different. But Tulowitzki picked the Yankees on a league-minimum salary.
It's tough to project what Tulowitzki's role will be with the Yankees. He's coming off several injury-plagued seasons and missed the entirety of 2018 after having surgery on both heels. The Toronto Blue Jays made the surprising decision to just pay the remaining $38 million remaining on his contract and send him to free agency rather than keep him on their roster. The Yankees do have a hole at shortstop, at least temporarily, while Didi Gregorius spends the first half of the 2019 season recovering from Tommy John surgery. The Yankees are also involved in a free-agent pursuit of Manny Machado, who has two Gold Gloves at third base but played shortstop last season and wants to keep playing shortstop.
But Tulowitzki supposedly impressed during his free-agent workout, and perhaps he's well enough to once more be an everyday shortstop. Combine the opportunity to do that with the fact that the Yankees are as good as any team out there, coming off a 100-win season, and even without Machado they could be the preseason World Series favorites. Playing any role on a team like that could be an attractive thing for a veteran who just deposited almost $40 million into his bank account. And then there's a small personal connection, with Tulowitzki growing up idolizing Derek Jeter and supposedly wanting to play for the Bronx Bombers.
The biggest unknown in all this, though, is Tulowitzki's health, and it could very well turn out that he's unable to make the kinds of contributions required of a season-long starter. But the Yankees have enough infield depth — and could potentially still add an All Star in Machado — that he might not need to be able to be a starter all season long.Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Cubs easily on your device.