Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Pittsburgh Pirates have interest in free agent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. According to a Major League scout, a reunion between manager Clint Hurdle and the 34-year-old Tulowitzki is a possibility.
Tulowitzki was released by the Toronto Blue Jays recently, despite two years (plus one option year) and $38 M remaining on his contract. That means that any team signing him would only be responsible for the league minimum, but it also means that it gives Tulowitzki a chance to decide where and even if he wants to play. With his salary already set, his decision could be based on playing time potential, playoff possibility, location and even familiarity, which is where the Hurdle connection gives the Pirates a possible advantage. Hurdle was his manager from 2006 until 2009.
This seems like an obvious case where they should have interest, so that shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s a minimum cost player and he fits a need. Other than trying to sell him on the team, there’s not much more the Pirates can do to try to win him over.
Tulowitzki missed all of 2018 due to surgery on both heels for bone spurs. He hit .249/.300/.378 in 66 games during the 2017 season, and he has missed plenty of playing time over the previous years. He had a .727 OPS in 2 1/2 seasons with the Blue Jays, after posting much better numbers with the Colorado Rockies.
There shouldn’t be high expectations here for Tulowitzki. He didn’t hit much in 2017 and didn’t play in 2018. His defense has been very strong in the past, but who is to say how much the surgeries, missed time and age will affect that part of his game. The risk is minimal, so if he doesn’t play well, you can move on from him quickly.