The obvious focus of the Boston Red Sox this offseason should be finding folks to fill their bullpen, but that hasn’t stopped them from showing interest in some infielders. They were one of several teams who watched Troy Tulowitzki workout after he was cut by the Blue Jays last Tuesday and Pete Abraham reports the organization has “legitimate interest” in bringing him to Boston.
As Abraham points out, the question becomes where Tulowitzki would fit in with the team. Would he play shortstop or would he fill in at second base on days Pedroia needs a rest? Since the Red Sox would only owe him the league minimum since the Blue Jays will be paying off the $38 million remaining on his contract, it could be an interesting gamble to use him as a backup second baseman/utility player.
Having him start at shortstop, however, would be extremely risky. Not only would it likely mean trading Xander Bogaerts, but he’s been so injury prone that he missed all of 2018 and only played in 66 games during the 2017 season. He also saw limited playing time due to injuries in both 2012 and 2014. Combine this with the worries about how Dustin Pedroia will stand up for the entire 2019 campaign and the two veterans don’t exactly scream physical reliability despite their talents (and I say this as someone who loves Pedroia). This really wouldn’t be the ideal situation for the middle infield while the Red Sox try to defend their World Series championship.
That being said, Tulowitzki’s a good player when he’s healthy. He’s made the All-Star team five times over the course of his career and received two gold gloves. The last real standout season came in 2015 when he made the All-Star team and ended up with a .287/.337/.440 slashline while driving in 70 runs and hitting 17 home runs. But he also had relatively low 33% walk/strikeout ratio that season (you want this to be much higher) and he put up middle of the road numbers during 2016.
What this all means is Boston was probably right to go watch Tulowitzki’s workout, but they absolutely should not be considering him for a starting gig at short. Nonetheless, having him as a utility player that they only have to pay the league minimum is relatively low risk and worth considering — especially since they carried three catchers who took up bench space last year and are rumored to be on the trading block. The big question would be whether or not Tulowitzki actually wants to come into a situation where he’s clearly going to be the backup.