According to reports, the Pittsburgh Pirates are interested in a former All-Star shortstop. What would this represent for the club?
The Pittsburgh Pirates have had a relatively active offseason so far this Winter. However, even though they filled their vacancy in right field and for their utility infield spot, the team still has a glaring hole at one position, shortstop. While they have yet to fill the spot in their lineup, there is still plenty of time this offseason to do so.
Also, there have been plenty of rumors in regards to the Pittsburgh Pirates and shortstops. The rumors started with the potential acquisition of Nick Ahmed from the Diamondbacks. Then it was followed up this past week with the team apparently being interested in former Padres and Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis. While these moves would represent upgrades over Jordy Mercer, they were not potential ones that exactly created a buzz among the fans.
Yesterday, there was a rumor that came out that has created a buzz among the Pittsburgh Pirates fans. According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Pittsburgh Pirates are interested in five time All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. To read the full context of the Tulowitzki rumors one must subscribe to The Atheltic, however here is a snippet in regards to the Bucs and Tulo:
"“The Pirates — under Clint Hurdle, Tulowitzki’s former manager with the Rockies — are one team with interest, according to major-league sources.”More from Rum BunterPittsburgh Pirates Prospect Stockwatch: Outfielder Tres GonzalezPittsburgh Pirates Podcast: Rum Bunter Radio Talks Winter Meetings FalloutPittsburgh Pirates: Potential Leadoff Hitters in 2023Pittsburgh Pirates: The Rotation is not being ImprovedPittsburgh Pirates Make Vince Velasquez Signing Official"
So what would the acquisition of Tulowitzki represent for the Pittsburgh Pirates? Obviously on the field, IF he can stay healthy he would bring tremendous upside to a position that has been very mediocre for a long time. As Rosenthal points out in his column, Tulowitzki was still playing a solid shortstop the last time he was fully healthy in 2016. He produced a 5.6 UZR/150 and 10 DRS. In 2017 he saw his numbers drop but that is when he started to have more health issues and only played half of the 2017 season.
Meanwhile, everyone knows what kind of offense he could potentially provide. Once again going back to 2016, Tulo hit 24 home runs and 21 doubles in 131 games along with a .189 ISO and a 104 WRC+. So while those numbers are not prime, Tulowitzki they are still much more than what the former Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop would have given them.
Still, the remaining question is if he can stay healthy and bounce back to provide that production. Early reports are that Tulo is working out at Long Beach State (where he attended) and is looking healthier than he has in a long time. If that is the case, then the Bucs need to do everything they can to get Tulo here.
Due to him being under a contract with the Blue Jays still, no team can sign him for more than league minimum. So with money out of the equation why would Tulo want to sign here? First off, the team can offer him a chance to play every day for the entire season. Apparently the Yankees are interested in him as well, however, their current shortstop, Didi Gregorius, is due to come back at some point early next season.
So really, if his goal is to prove he is healthy and can play every day, the Yankees do not make a lot of sense. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Pirates can provide him that opportunity. Also, he would get to play for Clint Hurdle again, a manager whom he is very familiar with and had some his best seasons with.
Tulo, however, could represent even more to the Pittsburgh Pirates fans. The fanbase is starting to gain some hope back in the team. They had a winning record last season even though many expected them to have a tough season. Meanwhile, Huntington and company were ultra-aggressive at the deadline bringing in two big-name players in Chris Archer and Keone Kela.
Tulowitzki would represent another big name that fans are familiar with. He would represent a player that fans associate with winning and being productive. While he is a not what he once was, if healthy, he still would be a better option than the current ones and bring excitement to the team.