If anyone thought the Yankees’ acquisition of Troy Tulowitzki, which was completed on Friday, was going to provide some clarity about the rest of their winter plans — particularly the pursuit of the infielder Manny Machado — well, good luck with that.
General Manager Brian Cashman, in a conference call with reporters on Friday, said his scouts had been so impressed with Tulowitzki in two workouts that they plan to turn the shortstop job over to him until Didi Gregorius returns from Tommy John surgery, whether that is in June, July or August. Tulowitzki has not played since 2017.
As for whether the signing of Tulowitzki, who agreed to a one-year, minimum-salary contract, takes the Yankees out of contention for Machado, Cashman said: “I can’t say what it would take us out of. But I will say we’re going in with a commitment level to try Troy Tulowitzki at shortstop.”
The Yankees are not inclined to go near the type of 10-year, $300 million contract that Machado is seeking, but if his market turns out to be less than robust — he has met with only two other teams, the Philadelphia Phillies and the Chicago White Sox — he could still be in the team’s plans at third base. Cashman said he had continued to speak with Machado’s agent, Dan Lozano, but did not characterize the conversations or say when they had taken place.
If the Yankees did land Machado to play third, it would allow them to package their own promising young third baseman, Miguel Andujar, in a trade for a starting pitcher.
That, of course, is the primary area the Yankees were intent on bolstering in the off-season, which they did by trading for James Paxton and re-signing J. A. Happ as a free agent. But C. C. Sabathia, who was brought back on a one-year contract, needed an angioplasty last month to clear a blockage near his heart. Doctors will evaluate him this month to determine whether he will be ready for spring training, which begins in five weeks, or for opening day.
Sabathia’s condition led Cashman to say for the first time that he might consider keeping pitcher Sonny Gray to start the season. Cashman had said he would trade Gray this winter after one and a half lackluster seasons and doubts that he would pitch to his potential in New York.
Cashman did not directly address the bullpen after one potential candidate, David Robertson, signed with the Phillies on Thursday. But the Yankees have continued talks with Zach Britton about returning and with another free agent, Adam Ottavino.
One hole they believe they have filled is at shortstop.
While Cashman acknowledged Tulowitzki’s lengthy injury history — he has been unable to play more than 91 games in four of the last seven seasons — he added that Tulowitzki “looked like he’d got that bounce back in his step” during two workouts the Yankees recently observed in Long Beach, Calif.
As for where Tulowitzki, 34, will fit in upon the return of Gregorius at shortstop, Cashman said the Yankees would use the first few months of the season to make that evaluation.
To make room for Troy Tulowitzki on the 40-man roster, the Yankees designated pitcher A. J. Cole for assignment. … Brian Cashman clarified the roster status of two other pitchers: Luis Cessa is out of options, so he must either make the roster or be released, and Domingo German, contrary to some reports, has one option remaining.