Heading into the 2014 season, the health of longtime New York Yankees captain and shortstop Derek Jeter has been talked about, especially since he missed most of the 2013 season due to an assortment of injuries; one of which was the fractured ankle injury he suffered during Game 1 of the 2012 American League Championship Series.
That injury required Jeter to have surgery and his recovery time carried through spring training and all the way into the beginning of July. In total, Jeter played all of 15 games, but re-signed with the team on a one-year, $12 million deal and vows that he is healthy and ready to play in 2014.
Despite that, his injury history of recent time has caused major concern and it's leading to think that the Yankees could look for potential replacements for the 39-year-old future Hall of Famer and Buster Olney of ESPN had a very interesting suggestion for the Bronx Bombers come the summer time; Troy Tulowitzki of the Colorado Rockies.
"For example: Someone like Troy Tulowitzki, the Rockies' shortstop, who is owed $134 million for the next seven seasons. Let's pause a moment to make this absolutely clear: This is all speculation at this point. There is no indication that Colorado is dangling Tulowitzki; rather, they've made it known they intend to keep him. But if the Rockies struggled early and began looking for opportunities to unburden themselves of the 29-year-old's contract, this is the type of player the Yankees would be uniquely positioned to target. A limited number of teams would be willing to take on Tulowitzki's deal."
Now, the Rockies are currently not dangling Tulowitzki in any way and are committed to him, especially since they are on hook for his contract which still has another seven years and $134 million, but if Colorado has another bad season, they could look to sell off their 29-year-old shortstop, who has become one of the better players in the sport at the position.
At this current moment, the Yankees are going to ride with Jeter as their opening day shortstop with Brendan Ryan as his backup and Kelly Johnson penciled in at third base, but if the Yankees are in the midst of a pennant race and want to upgrade their lineup, or if Jeter suffers another injury, Yankees GM Brian Cashman's first phone call during the summer could go to Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd and look to take Tulowitzki's deal off their hands.
Since the Yankees firmly went over the $189 million mark with their signing of Masahiro Tanaka last week, the team is no longer looking to count pennies and will be paying the MLB's luxury tax for the season, so if anything, they can now afford to take on more payroll because the fear of going over the $189 million mark is officially over and the Yankees can simply add talent where needed to make them stronger.
It's a very real possibility that the 2014 season could be the final year of Jeter's tremendous career, in which, the Yankees will need to take a serious look at finding a permanent replacement at the spot that Jeter has manned since April of 1996, and while not having Jeter in the pinstripes is something no die-hard Yankee fan ever wants to think about, someone with the playing capability of Tulowitzki would be a strong replacement to have in the future if the Yankees chose to explore that route.
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