The Yankees surprised a lot of fans with their decision to sign Troy Tulowitzki, but his contract contains an even bigger surprise.
Most players who missed the entire 2018 season and signed for a veteran’s minimum deal aren’t in position to make contract demands. Evidently Troy Tulowitzki had enough teams interested in his services to use as serious leverage against the Yankees. The 34-year-old shortstop was able to get a full no-trade clause from Brian Cashman.
According to Jon Heyman, Tulowitzki’s previous experience with the Rockies caused the issue of a no-trade clause to be important to him. He believed he’d “have a say” in whether or not Colorado moved him, but ultimately wasn’t consulted before being dealt to the Blue Jays. It’s clear he wasn’t willing to let that happen again.
At first glance, this seems like a really bad decision by the Yankees front office. It’s easy to imagine Tulowitzki becoming surplus to requirements in New York after Didi Gregorius returns from Tommy John surgery. The organization’s clear intention is for Tulowitzki to hold down the position until Gregorius returns. Of course, the signing of Manny Machado could change things drastically.
The fact that as many as 16 teams registered serious interest in inking Tulowitzki changes the perception of giving him the full no trade clause though. It’s very likely that was a point of negotiation that multiple teams were willing to offer. The Yankees likely made a decision that signing Tulowitzki to a minimum contract with a full no-trade clause was a better baseball move than paying another middle infielder a higher salary.
When you put the Tulowitzki deal in that context it still looks like a great deal for Cashman and company. Even if the shortstop can’t help them down the stretch, the franchise can simply cut him and pay the remainder of his small salary. That’s not as good as trading him for a meaningful asset, but the best Cashman could hope to pry away from another team for Tulowitzki would be a mid-tier prospect. That potential return wasn’t enough to jeopardize signing a player that can really help keep the Yankees afloat early in the season.
Tulowitzki and his representatives deserve credit for getting a deal that gives the player what he values most. He wants to stay with the Yankees all season long. No one should blame Cashman for giving in to that minor demand.