Cubs eyeing Troy Tulowitzki, Daniel Descalso


Given the situation surrounding shortstop Addison Russell, the Cubs need to have a contingency plan up the middle for the first month of next season. Free agents Troy Tulowitzki and Daniel Descalso are reportedly on Chicago’s radar as infield reinforcements.

Russell will be ineligible to play until May 3, while finishing out a 40-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy. While he is inactive, the Cubs plan on using Javier Baez at short, creating a temporary vacancy at second base.

Given the situation surrounding shortstop Addison Russell, the Cubs need to have a contingency plan up the middle for the first month of next season. Free agents Troy Tulowitzki and Daniel Descalso are reportedly on Chicago’s radar as infield reinforcements.

Russell will be ineligible to play until May 3, while finishing out a 40-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy. While he is inactive, the Cubs plan on using Javier Baez at short, creating a temporary vacancy at second base.

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Chicago could lean on Ben Zobrist, Ian Happ or David Bote as internal options for second, but the team also wants to add more depth this offseason. The Cubs are also searching for some added veteran leadership for their clubhouse. Both Tulowitzki and Descalso fit the positional need, and each has plenty of MLB and postseason experience.

According to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, the Cubs are one of six teams believed to be in on Tulowitzki, who was released by the Blue Jays on Tuesday in a surprise move at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. The 34-year-old Tulowitzki is owed $38 million over the next two years, but Toronto will be on the hook for the remaining salary. Any team that signs Tulowitzki would only be required to pay him the league minimum.

Video: Tulo released by Blue Jays, enters free agency

The big question surrounding Tulowitzki is his health, given that the shortstop has not played a Major League game since July 28, 2017, due to foot and ankle injuries. He missed all of 2018 while dealing with bone spurs in each heel. Following Tulowitzki’s release, the Cubs began looking into the latest on his health status. Per reports, the veteran has been working out and progressing well in California.

During the Winter Meetings, Cubs manager Joe Maddon was asked for his opinion of Tulowitzki.

“I knew, obviously, him and Longo were buds,” said Maddon, referring to Evan Longoria, whom the manager knows from their years with the Rays. “I don’t know health-wise where he’s at. He was fabulous. When he was in Denver, I loved what I saw. That’s been a while ago. I know the health has been an issue lately. I know Longo likes him a lot, which is good enough for me.”

A 12-year veteran of the big leagues, Tulowitzki has played in 35 career playoff games, including during the 2007 World Series with the Rockies against the Red Sox.

Video: Daniel Descalso to become free agent ahead of 2019

The Cubs are also in “strong pursuit” of Descalso, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal. The 32-year-old infielder has hit .240 (.694 OPS) over nine years between stops with the Cardinals, Rockies and D-backs. St. Louis is also reportedly interested in the utility infielder, who manned second base (52 games), third (37), first (11) and the outfield (five) with Arizona last season.

Descalso, who won a World Series with the Cardinals in 2011, hit .238 with a career-high 13 home runs, along with 57 RBIs and a .789 OPS in 138 games in 2018. He posted an 111 wRC+, indicating that he was 11 percent above league average offensively. Descalso — a left-handed hitter — had a 134 wRC+ against lefties (74 plate appearances) and a 107 wRC+ off righties (349 PAs) last season.

Jordan Bastian covers the Cubs for MLB.com. He previously covered the Indians from 2011-18 and the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.





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