The Yankees have reached the offseason many believed would see them make monumental moves that push them back to the head of the pack in the American League as they aim for a 28th World Series title.
Here is an update of rumors surrounding the Yankees pursuits, followed by my take on how things currently stand and may shake out…
Cashman names Tulowitzki Yankees shortstop
During his conference call with reporters Friday, Yankees GM Brian Cashman stated that newly inked Troy Tulowitzki would be the Yankees starting shortstop in 2019. Cashman, when asked how the Manny Machado pursuit would be affected by the signing said, "I can't say what it would take us out of, but we're going into this with a commitment level to try Troy Tulowitzki at shortstop."
MY TAKE >> The Yankees may well have every intention of using Tulowitzki at shortstop, but pretty much everyone in baseball understands that the odds of the 34-year-old making it through spring training, let alone half the season the Yankees minimally need with Didi Gregorius out are not great. Tulowitzki did not play a single game in 2018 and just 66 in 2017. He has played more than 100 games in a season just three times in the last seven years. Plain and simple this is a player that has demonstrated diminished productivity and is wrought with injury concerns.
The Yankees may well believe that they can persuade Machado to play third base in 2019, understanding that he would have had to move back to the position upon Gregorius' return anyway. The Yankees might leave open the door for Machado to be the everyday shortstop in 2020 and beyond, with the notion that they do not know what they will get back with Gregorius. In my opinion, there is little reason to believe that Machado would feel slighted by the Yankees addition of Tulowitzki.
Finally, almost everyone in the business realizes that Machado's highest value comes as the third baseman, not as a shortstop. With the circumstances as they are, it benefits the Yankees to try Tulowitzki at shortstop and if he plays as good as he apparently looked at his workouts, the club will be fine in the short term with Machado (should he be signed) at third base. In the same scenario, if it does not work out with Tulowitzki, Machado could easily be slid over to shortstop with Miguel Andujar slotting right back at third base.
Gray's tenure with Yankees might extend beyond original thoughts
During the conference call, Cashman also stated that the Yankees paused efforts to trade right-handed starting pitcher Sonny Gray once they learned of CC Sabathia's heart condition.
MY TAKE >> I speculated last week that Sabathia's condition could slam the brakes on a move regarding Gray. The Yankees might have been hell-bent on shipping Gray elsewhere, but the reality is that the club might be better off with Gray filling in for Sabathia if there are continuing issues versus one of the younger minor league pitchers.
Like any other winter, roster configuration is fluid and if Sabathia is deemed stable and ready to participate in spring training than the Yankees can ramp up trade talks again surrounding Gray. If Sabathia is slowed by his health, Gray might provide benefits as a fifth starter, who likely hopes to latch on elsewhere himself as he's heard of his current club's desires since the season ended.
Regardless of the timing, Gray will maintain value for clubs that lost out of starting pitchers in the free agent market or for teams that encounter injuries during spring training or the regular season.