Blue Jays: Talkin’ Tulowitzki in 2018 and beyond

TORONTO, ON - JULY 27: Troy Tulowitzki
TORONTO, ON - JULY 27: Troy Tulowitzki /

After a dreadfully disappointing season 2017, Troy Tulowitzki will have to prove he can stay healthy next season in order to keep his starting gig in Toronto.

When the offseason rolls around, it’s easy to focus on the market of available players, rather than those your team may have in house. That can be especially true when you’ve had a disappointing season like the Blue Jays had in 2017. However, it often leads to a “grass is greener” mentality, which can be a dangerous way to think.

For example, if you were to peruse Twitter at any given time over the last month or two, you’d find Blue Jays’ fans calling for the trade, or outright release of Troy Tulowitzki and his stinkin’, no good, expensive contract. While it’s fair to feel that way after an injury filled season for the five time All-Star, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there is a better solution than him waiting on the market. I know, I know, he’s always hurt, but hear me out.

The Blue Jays will have somewhat limited resources this winter in their pursuit of rounding out the roster. They’re projected to have a payroll of around 142 million with what they have in house now, and they started the 2017 season with a little more than 163 million. Despite being in last place for all but one day of the season, the fans came out in droves and lead the American League in attendance, so maybe Rogers pushes the budget to the 170 range.

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Assuming they do, that’s still only 28 million to work with, which brings me back to Tulowitzki. I’m 100% in support of bringing in a utility infielder to shore up the depth, but does it really make sense to look at eating some of Tulo’s contract, as has been widely suggested?

He’s scheduled to make 20 million per season in 2018 and 2019, before his salary falls to 14 million in 2020. He’ll also receive a four million dollar buyout the following year, assuming his employer at that time doesn’t keep him around for 15 million in 2021. As things currently stand, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where another team would take his contract, unless of course the Blue Jays were willing to eat a chunk of his salary, which is an option.

That said, does it make sense to use 10 million or more of your budget, just to make a player go away? Sure, you could argue that Rogers can and should eat that expense, but we all know that’s unlikely to happen. And I know Tulowitzki’s been a disappointment, but let’s be realistic about this here. In fact, let’s take a look at his projections for next season, which of course are greatly influenced by how healthy he can stay.

Fangraphs has him earning 2.2 WAR, slashing .260/.324/.446 in 113 games played. They also see him chipping in 18 home runs and 54 RBI, as well as 20 doubles to add to the value. They do have him heavily weighted on the defensive side, looking at a 5.7 dWAR, as opposed to just a 0.2 oWAR. That all sounds pretty solid, doesn’t it?

Of course, it’ll depend on his health, and after watching him play in just 66 games in 2017, it seems optimistic that he’ll play in almost twice as many, but it could certainly happen. He’ll be playing in his age 34 season next year, and with a little more luck there should be nowhere to go but up from last year. Which is why the idea of eating salary to send him elsewhere doesn’t make much sense to me, unless of course the perfect match comes along.

Next: What could the Blue Jays send back in a trade?

If we’re talking about sending him to Miami as part of a Giancarlo Stanton package, then MAYBE, but I’m willing to bet half of you laughed before you finished reading this sentence. Which is why Blue Jays fans should prepare for another season as Tulowitzki as the primary shortshop, and hopefully it’ll be a far more productive and healthy campaign for the talented veteran.