The Jays already have a fairly good young shortstop in Lourdes Gurriel, Jr. Plus, Devon Travis is still there at second base, with Brandon Drury backing him up. Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. will be holding down third base. While it would seem prudent to give Tulo a shot at rebuilding his value, keeping him around simply didn’t make sense for a team that has youth on their side.
As for the 35-year old shortstop, it’s hard to say if he can even remain at shortstop for a full season. Indeed, the projection systems see him as a part-time player at this point. But, this is actually where things get interesting.
His 2019 Steamer projection: 68 games, .252/.312/.422 with 10 HR, and average-ish defense at shortstop for 1 WAR.
While those numbers are a far cry from what the baseball world came to expect from Tulo before his injury-marred 2017 and his lost 2018 (due to bone spurs in both ankles) that means if he can even play half-a-season, he’s still valuable. Now that the Blue Jays bought out his contract, Tulowitzki’s services can be had for the league minimum for each of the next two seasons. So, who wants Tulo for two years and roughly $1.2 million total?
The question is, where does he play at this point? It’s possible he could play first, second, third, or shortstop. With league-average offense and the ability to not embarrass with the glove, it seems like he could fit anywhere, right?
Tulowitzki to the Orioles?
The Baltimore Orioles have Jonathan Villar at the top of their Shortstop depth chart. While speedy and not a zero with the bat, it’s possible that Tulo is still the better fielder at this point. There’s Breyvic Valera, too. Also, second base is pretty wide open, although the solid Renato Nunez probably can hold down third base. Still, there’s some sense here, especially at league minimum for a year.
No one else in the AL East is in desperate need of a shortstop. The Indians, Twins, and Royals certainly don’t need one. The White Sox are committed to Tim Anderson at short. So, who’s next?
Tulowitzki to the Tigers?
As a team that really needs to rebuild, Tulo may make some sense for the Tigers. Ronny Rodriguez tops their depth chart at short. While he’s probably about as good as Tulo at this point, second base is pretty open, too. So, a one-year deal for league minimum makes sense here, too. Like the Orioles, the Tigers have a solid young third baseman in Jeimer Candelario.
In the AL West, the Angels infield is solid. The Astros have Carlos Correa. The A’s have Marcus Semien. The Mariners are probably OK with JP Crawford. Elvis Andrus isn’t what he was with the Rangers, but still more a given than Tulo.
That makes only two teams in the AL that could realistically use TUlo. Neither of those teams would surrender talent for Tulo or take on that contract. He’s pretty much a veteran clubhouse leader who can provide some value off the bench for those two. Both the Orioles and Tigers could benefit from him just being there.
What about in the NL?
Tulowitzki to the Marlins?
While the Braves, Mets, Natinoals and Phillies are set at shortstop, the Marlins shortstop situation is a bit more unclear. Of course, they are in talks about Miguel Andujar - who can technically “play” shortstop. Right now, J.T. Riddle tops their depth chart. Miguel Rojas is there, too. The Marlins also have veteran Martin Prado hanging around. Still, you could see how Tulo could be a nice veteran presence on a rebuilding club. If he ends up playing mostly full-time and clobbers 20 homers, that would be nice. But he makes less sense in Miami than in Baltimore or Detroit. Also, would Tulo even want to play there?
Tulowitzki to the Brewers?
While this isn’t a perfect fit necessarily, the Brewers have Hernan Perez topping their second base depth chart and Orlando Arcia at shortstop. Really, it depends on how much stock you put in Arcia, but at this point, Tulo is projecting roughly as valuable as Arcia in about half the playing time. Plus, he’s far more valuable than Perez, and that means that Arcia can just play where Tulo doesn’t. Then again, the Brewers want to compete and Tulo’s health is not a given. That being said, the commitment is so minimal. It could be a creative fit.
Tulowitzki to the Cubs?
With Addison Russell’s future with the Cubs up in the air - due to the domestic violence allegations - Tulo seems like he could be a stopgap solution. While not a natural fit, he could still be a useful utility infielder even with Russell there.
While no one else in the NL Central needs a shortstop, there is an intriguing possibility in the NL West…
Tulowitzki to the Diamondbacks?
The Diamondbacks are in a weird place. They aren’t quite in a rebuilding phase, as they are still a team that can contend, but they also just traded Goldschmidt - whose contract was expiring after 2019 anyway - and are looking to trade Zack Greinke. They also just lost Patrick Corbin in free agency. This is a team that needs to retool on the fly. Tulowitzki is not only cheap, but moving back to high altitude in Phoenix, Arizona - albeit not quite as high as Denver, Colorado - could boost his offensive numbers a bit. It may be worth a shot.
Tulowitzki to the Padres?
With the Dodgers, Giants, and Rockies set at shortstop, the only other possible landing spot for Tulo would be San Diego. The Padres are just a mess, with Luis Urias and Fernando Tatis Jr. topping the depth chart at shortstop. Second base doesn’t look much better. Tulowitzki would at the very least make things interesting. The price is certainly right and it’s not like he’s blocking anyone.
So, the potential landing spots for Tulowitzki are:
San Diego Padres
Of course, some other team could take a flyer on him as a utility infielder (a reunion with the Rockies perhaps?) but these are the only teams that make sense to me. We’ll see where he lands.