The Yankees should know more about where they stand in the Manny Machado sweepstakes within the next week, but in the meantime, they added another free-agent infielder, agreeing to a deal with Troy Tulowitzki, a source confirmed late Tuesday night.
The signing of Tulowitzki, who was released by the Blue Jays last month, will not impact the Yankees’ pursuit of Machado. Instead, it’s a no-risk flier on a veteran infielder to whom they will owe just the major league minimum, since Toronto is picking up the rest of his $20 million salary this season.
Tulowitzki could fill in at shortstop in the absence of Didi Gregorius, who is out for much of 2019 following offseason Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. That would allow Gleyber Torres to stay at second base, with Miguel Andujar at third.
If the Yankees do end up landing Machado, Tulowitzki might serve as depth, perhaps in a similar role to the one Neil Walker served last season.
A five-time All-Star who turned 34 in October, Tulowitzki’s career has been sidetracked in recent years by injuries and he was a huge disappointment with the Blue Jays.
He didn’t play at all last season due to bone spurs in his heels. In 2017, he was limited to just 66 games because of a sprained ankle and a hamstring injury.The health woes led Toronto, somewhat stunningly, to jettison Tulowitzki last month, despite still owing him $38 million over the next two seasons.
The Yankees were among nearly a dozen teams that scouted Tulowitzki at a workout last month at Long Beach State and their affinity for one another has long been known.
Among the reasons Tulowitzki wore No. 2 is because he was a fan of Derek Jeter. And general manager Brian Cashman has also liked Tulowitzki.
According to a Sports Illustrated story, Cashman had this exchange with Jeter during contentious contract negotiations in 2010:
“Who would you rather have playing shortstop this year than me?” Jeter asked Cashman.
“Do you really want me to answer that?” Cashman said.
When Jeter told him to respond, Cashman mentioned Tulowitzki, who was with the Rockies.
“We’re not paying extra money for popularity,” Cashman said. “We’re paying for performance.”
“I think he can still play defense,” Tulowitzki’s former manager in Toronto, John Gibbons, told The Post’s George A. King III last month. “Offensively it has gone downhill.’’That version of Tulowitzki is long gone. His last productive year was 2016, when he hit 24 homers and had a .761 OPS with the Blue Jays in 131 games.
If Tulowitzki proves unable to play, though, it will hardly cost the Yankees, given the price tag.
Of far greater importance is the decision Machado figures to make after he visited the Yankees, Phillies and White Sox over the course of four days last month.
The Yankees, according to sources, are unwilling to give the 26-year-old Machado a 10-year, $300 million deal, but there’s no guarantee the shortstop will get an offer that hefty from any team.
Machado and Bryce Harper entered the offseason as the two headliners of what was considered a historic free-agent class, but for a second straight year, the market has moved at a glacial pace, with both players still available, along with other big names such as starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel and relievers Craig Kimbrel, David Robertson and Zach Britton.