Troy Tulowitzki Yankees: Who Will Play Shortstop For The Bronx Bombers In 2015?
Derek Jeter, the New York Yankees' all-time hits leader, played his final home game in pinstripes on Thursday night. In classic "Captain Clutch" fashion Jeter rescues the Yankees from a blown save with a walk-off, opposite field single.
The Yankees will not play postseason baseball this season, and next year they will be without the man who has captained them since 2003. At the moment, Yankees fans are reveling in Jeter's final moment, and re-living the glory days of the Jeter-led dynasty. Soon though, their thoughts will turn to who will man Jeter's position in 2015. Here are the candidates.
Hanley Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers
Ramirez had a down year by his standards, hitting .283 with 13 home runs and stealing 14 bases in 127 games. At 30 years old Ramirez is in that risky time frame where his "prime" hasn't quite ended, but a long-term deal will extend well into his decline.
At the same time, Jeter is an iconic presence that needs to be filled. No sane person would expect Ramirez to be able to fill that leadership void, but he's an established dual threat and would represent a big statistical upgrade to the 2014 version of Jeter in a lineup desperate for pop.
And of course, if any team can afford to overpay an aging veteran in free agency it's the Yankees.
Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies
Tulo was cruising to an NL MVP award this season before injuries unsurprisingly cut his campaign short. Through 91 games Tulowitzki slashed .340/.442/.603, and was worth 5.1 WAR per Fangraphs. He was also stellar defensively, something that was famously in dispute when it comes to Jeter.
In every way, Tulowitzki is an upgrade over Jeter with the exception of perhaps his intangibles.
Oh yeah, and his durability. Since 2012 these are the number of games Tulo has appeared in by season: 47, 126, 91. The man, talented as he is, can't stay healthy. When the rest of his current contract runs through 2021, and pays him $20 million a season for most of it, that's a major red flag.
Tulo makes sense in terms of the splash he'd make, and he's be dominant for as long as he's out there. But injuries take their toll over time.
Verdict: Expect a lot of rumors, but no trade.
Stephen Drew, New York Yankees
Drew remains a heady defensive player, and could stay with the Yankees if his demands in free agency are reasonable. After posting a batting average of .163 and hitting seven home runs in 83 games this year they will likely be very reasonable.
Re-signing Drew and going ahead with him as the everyday shortstop will probably elicit groans from most Yankees fans; also, replacing Derek Jeter full time with an average like Drew's might make him public enemy No. 2 behind A-Rod in New York.
That said, he should come cheap, and spending money at SS in free agency this offseason is unwise. There's not much value at the position, and the Yanks are more cost-conscious than ever these days.
Verdict: Drew will probably be back on account of his glove, but he may not start.
Brendan Ryan, New York Yankees
It's conceivable the Yanks could go with Ryan and Drew as a lefty/righty platoon that may not be able to hit its way out of a wet paper bag, but will pick it at an elite level. Ryan had an even worse season at the plate than Drew, however, and their offensive ineptitude may become poisonous to the lineup even if they are hitting ninth in the order.
Verdict: Ryan will be back, but merely as a utility player.
Starlin Castro, Chicago Cubs
This is a longshot, but not because the Yankees won't be interested. His star may have diminished some since an electric rookie season, but Castro bounced back from a disastrous 2013 season to put up solid offensive numbers.
He's become a plus defender at short, and he's only 24 years old. So why would Chicago even think about trading someone with this profile?
Because of Javier Baez and Addison Russell, two elite shortstop prospects in a Cubs farm system teeming with talent. Baez swatted nine home runs in 49 games in the big leagues, flashing serious power that's carried over from Triple A. He only hit .161 against MLB pitching, so expectations must be tempered, but that's A-plus power at short, which is rare these days.
Despite such depth behind Castro, he is obviously MLB-ready, whereas the other two are largely untested. Castro also has not even come close to his ceiling, so the Cubs won't part with him cheaply. The Yankees would be foolish not to engage the Cubs in talks, but their diminished farm system may not have enough of a haul for Theo Epstein to sign off on a trade.
Verdict: This will become a hot topic during the winter, but eventually the Cubs will receive better prospects from another team.
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