If superstar free agent Manny Machado does end up putting on pinstripes before spring training, another recently added New York Yankees shortstop expects to be among the first to welcome him to the team and embrace the chance to play with him.
“I signed up to be a Yankee because I wanted to be with the best players. So if Manny’s one of those guys, then I think that would be awesome,” Troy Tulowitzki, inked Friday to a one-year league-minimum deal, said on a conference call Monday. “I definitely signed up for this to help us win.”
Tulowitzki, a five-time All-Star who was considered one of baseball’s best shortstops before heel injuries slowed him down the past two seasons, isn’t concerned by the potential competition Machado’s possible addition would pose.
“Whatever happens, happens,” Tulowitzki said. “I’ll be ready to play when spring training comes.”
Just after the Yankees made Tulowitzki’s signing official Friday, general manager Brian Cashman told reporters that with the injured Didi Gregorius still rehabbing from offseason Tommy John surgery, his club viewed the 34-year-old Tulowitzki as its current Opening Day shortstop.
“We have really reacted in a positive way to have that type of dialogue with Troy and to commit to giving him that opportunity to be our everyday shortstop,” Cashman said.
A four-time All-Star and Platinum Glove defender himself, Machado remains on the free-agency market after spending a week late last month visiting with the Yankees and two other reported suitors, the White Sox and Phillies.
Because of rumors this winter of the Yankees’ interest in trading third baseman Miguel Andujar, there is curiosity about whether New York, in the aftermath of such a trade, would move Machado back to third base — a position he thrived at for much of his career with playing in Baltimore — and leave Tulowitzki at short.
Regardless of how the defensive carousel ultimately works out for the Yankees, Cashman has made it clear the team still values Gregorius’ role at shortstop, too. Tulowitzki was well aware when he signed that there’s a real possibility Gregorius will be the Yankees’ starter at short once he gets back from his elbow injury.
“A lot can happen in that time. Obviously, I want Didi to be back out on the field. He’s a heck of a player. I respect him,” Tulowitzki said.
The Yankees still don’t have a firm timeline on Gregorius’ return, but it could come at some point in June, July or August, they have repeatedly said.
“When that time comes, we’ll deal with that, but for right now, I’m concentrating on taking the field and helping us win games,” Tulowitzki said.
Now healthy and feeling no pain in his heels following surgery and a long rehab process that included missing the entire 2018 season before the Blue Jays released him last month, Tulowitzki is motivated to prove himself in the Bronx.
“With what I’ve been through, a lot of people have written me off and said that at times maybe I’m done, or what could’ve been of my career because it was headed in such a good direction,” Tulowitzki said. “But for me, all this has really made me stronger. It’s made me appreciate the game more than ever.
“I put in a lot of work to get myself into this, to have this opportunity. So there’s no doubt about it, there’s a chip on my shoulder, but I would say my whole career I played that way and been that type of personality.”