NEW YORK (AP) — Troy Tulowitzki would be happy if the New York Yankees add Manny Machado to their infield, even if the move costs the 34-year-old shortstop playing time.
"Hey, I signed up to be a Yankee because I wanted to play with the best players," Tulowitzki said during a conference call Monday. "So if Manny is one of those guys, then I think that would be awesome. It would make the team that much stronger."
If Machado signs with the Yankees as a high-priced free agent, he presumably would take over at third base. Tulowitzki is projected to start in an infield with Miguel Andujar at third, Gleyber Torres at second and Luke Voit or Greg Bird at first. The Yankees needed a replacement for Didi Gregorius, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow and is not expected back until June, July or August.
When Gregorius returns, Tulowitzki might have a reduced role. If Machado and Gregorius are in the lineup, Tulowitzki might not get many at-bats.
"A lot can happen in that time," Tulowitzki said. "So when that time comes, we'll deal with that."
Sidelined by heel injuries since July 2017, Tulowitzki agreed last week to a one-year contract with the Yankees for the major league minimum $555,000. That will be offset against the $20 million he is owed by Toronto, which released him last month. The Blue Jays also are responsible for $14 million in salary for 2020 plus a $4 million buyout of a 2021 team option.
"They were kind of headed in a different direction than I wanted to go," Tulowitzki said. "They were going to go young and commit to the young players."
A five-time All-Star, Tulowitzki has not played in the major leagues since July 2017. He started feeling problems with his heels around the time of his trade from Colorado to Toronto in July 2015 and spent last year recovering from April 2 surgery on both heels.
"I think it did allow me to hit that refresh button with my body and really catch up in some areas where I was just taking the field and constantly not being able to be myself and be confident in my body at times," he said.
He doesn't think he was full fit until October.
"I started to say, oh, man, I'm feeling a lot better and excited about the upcoming year," he said.
Tulowitzki topped .300 or better four times from 2010-14 and 90 RBIs from 2009-11, boosted by hitter-friendly Coors Field.
"There's some extra motivation, definitely, with what I've been through. I think a lot of people have written me off and said that at times maybe I'm done," he said. "There's no doubt about it, there's a chip on my shoulder but I would say my whole career I've kind of played that way and been that type of personality."
He idolized Derek Jeter growing up, even wearing the No. 2 of the retired Yankees captain. He also emulated Cal Ripken Jr. and Nomar Garciaparra.
"The first thing that I think about when I think about Derek is his presence on and off the field," Tulowitzki said. "I definitely saw that from afar as a young kid and tried to do those same things ... and then when he did have all the success, too, he didn't let it get to his head."
Notes: New York agreed to a minor league contract with 29-year-old switch-hitting outfielder Billy Burns, who will report to big league spring training. The speedster hit .255 last year in 102 games for Triple-A Omaha with nine doubles, four homers, 10 steals and 36 RBIs. He has a .270 average with 55 RBIs in 242 big league games over four seasons.