The two acquisitions happens at very different points of the year, but in essence, the Yankees picked up both Kendrys Morales and Troy Tulowitzki because of injuries.
Tulowizki’s signing happened before the season back in January. Didi Gregorius had Tommy John surgery earlier in the offseason and was known to be out until sometime in the summer. The Yankees needed someone to fill in at shortstop, and they decided to take a flier on the former Rockie and Blue Jay. He had a good history when healthy, just without a recent track record of being able to stay on the field.
As for Morales, his signing came after the in-season string of injuries began. Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge had already gone down. Greg Bird had, well, Greg Bird-ish things happen to him. Miguel Andujar had returned to the IL after his brief attempt at a comeback didn’t work. The Yankees, again, took a flier on someone who had hit 20 home runs in six of the last seven seasons.
Neither signing particularly worked, for pretty much exactly the reasons those skeptical of the moves expected.
2019 Statistics (with Yankees): 19 games, 75 plate appearances, .177/.320/.242, 1 home run, 5 RBI, 7 runs, 63 wRC+, -0.4 fWAR
2020 Contract Status: Free agent
Morales started 2019 with the Blue Jays, for whom he had played the previous two seasons. A spring training deal saw him go to Oakland, where he made the Opening Day roster. After not doing much of anything for the A’s, he was designated for assignment.
The Yankees came to his rescue, and picked him up in exchange for cash considerations. His time in the Bronx started perfectly fine as he went 1-for-2 with two walks in his first game, and recorded a hit in each of his first three games, including a home run.
It didn’t take long for him to start slumping, however, as he went into a 3-for-30 stretch from May 26th to June 8th. He ended that with a three-hit game on the 11th, but was placed on the 10-day IL soon after. By the time he got back, the Yankees had acquired Edwin Encarnacion and Morales wasn’t needed. He was designated for assignment on the 25th, and then outright released on July 2nd. No one picked him up after, and his major league career may very well be over.
2019 Statistics: 5 games, 13 plate appearances, .182/.308/.545, 1 home run, 1 RBI, 1 run, 118 wRC+, 0.0 fWAR
2020 Contract Status: Retired
Between wearing a no. 2 jersey and the time he showed up in the stands at Yankee Stadium while playing for the Rockies, it seemed as if Tulowitzki really wanted to play shortstop for the Yankees at some point.
He got his wish in January when the Yankees signed him to a major-league deal. He had apparently impressed the team in his December workout, and the Yankees would soon give him the starting shortstop position to begin the 2019 season.
On paper it seemed a low-risk, high-upside signing, but the risk showed itself pretty quickly. As always seems to be the case with Tulowitzki, it was an injury.
He started his Yankee career decently with a double in his first game and a home run in his second. However, a calf strain suffered on April 3rd caused him to hit the IL after just five games. He attempted to come back, and even played a rehab game, but he would soon be transferred to the 60-day IL. Then, on July 25th, he announced his retirement from baseball.
Both Morales and Tulowitzki will go down as notable players from this era of baseball. Their Yankees’ stints won’t be well remembered, however.