Troy Tulowitzki impressed enough in his December 16th showcase to draw genuine interest from as many as 16 major league clubs, per Andy Martino of SNY.tv. The Cubs were reportedly willing to hand Tulo their starting shortstop position at least until the end of Addison Russell’s suspension. The Pirates, as well, liked Tulo’s lateral mobility and overall athleticism enough to install him as their starting shortstop. The Angels were interested in him as a third baseman. By signing with the Yankees, however, Tulo arguably sees more playing time certainly than in Chicago, assuming Didi Gregorius’ injury will keep him out for longer than Russell. The Yankees fulfill (at least for now) his desire to stick at short, and they certainly figure to be more competitive than the Pirates. In context, there’s ample reason to understand New York’s appeal to Tulowitzki and vice versa, though the story changes if Manny Machado winds up in pinstripes. Of course, Tulo’s minimum salary deal would hardly be a deterrent to a Machado signing, but it could be yet another sign that Brian Cashman and the Yankees are more than content to enter 2019 without the divisive superstar. Let’s check in on a few other notes from around the game…
- Interestingly, Mike Napoli interviewed with the Chicago Cubs before they filled their recent coaching vacancies, per Fancred’s Jon Heyman (via Twitter). It’s been less than a month since the former All-Star announced his retirement, but now that the Cubs went in a different direction, Napoli will have no trouble enjoying his time off. Napoli was always touted as a positive influence who buoyed clubhouse morale with intensity and charm, and there’s plenty reason to believe there is a future in coaching for him, if he so chooses.
- The Tigers are no-doubt ready to deal Nick Castellanos, but they’re not ready to give him away, per mlive.com’s Evan Woodbery. GM Al Avila faced a similar quandary last offseason in trying to find a match for veteran Ian Kinsler. He settled on returning a pair of lower-tier prospects from the Angels, only one of whom registers on their list of top-30 prospects from MLB.com (Troy Montgomery at #29). Kinsler’s situation was complicated by a partial no-trade list, but the Tigers still ended up with a package not much different from what the Angels received when they moved him to Boston mid-season. The Tigers don’t appear ready to settle this time around, even if it means getting a lesser prospect mid-season or letting him walk at year’s end. The crux of the issue is that the Tigers view Castellanos as a robust offensive producer on a one-year deal coming off a career season and entering his prime. Trade partners, meanwhile, can paint Castellanos as an $11MM defensive liability. Of potential trade partners, the division rival Indians are still the most logical fit, and they’ve partnered even recently on the Leonys Martin deal last season. Still, finding middle ground on appropriate compensation for a player with such evaluative extremes is proving difficult. Avila and the Tigers, however, will not be cowed by the challenge, nor will they give in to it – at least for now.
- The Tampa Bay Rays are reducing the seating capacity of Tropicana Field in order to create “a more intimate, entertaining, and appealing experience [for our fans],” per Carl Lisciandrello of the Tampa Bay Times. The new renovation plan will lower the seating capacity by roughly 6,000 to around 25,000 to 26,000. With an average daily attendance in 2018 of 14,258 that exceeded only the Marlins, the Rays are certainly taking a creative approach to attract more fans by lowering their capacity ceiling. While the initial optics of this renovation plan certainly invites a degree of ribbing, Rays ownership is wise to take a creative approach to growing a fanbase that has been historically lackluster, especially given the recent failure to finalize a deal for a new stadium in Ybor City. Outfielder Tommy Pham was the latest to criticize Rays’ fans in a recent interview on MLB Network Radio, saying, “It sucks going from playing in front of a great fan base to a team with really no fan base at all,” as chronicled by Anthony Barstow of the New York Post. The Rays have done the job of putting a competitive and exciting team on the field, now they’ll embark on better utilizing areas within the ballpark. Hopefully, there will be more fans there in 2019 to notice.