Blue Jays: Even the front office seems to have lost faith in Troy Tulowitzki

TORONTO, ON - JULY 28: Troy Tulowitzki
TORONTO, ON - JULY 28: Troy Tulowitzki /

While it’s no surprise that the Blue Jays aren’t counting on Troy Tulowitzki to get or stay healthy, Ross Atkins’ comments on Wednesday were a bit of eye raiser.

While the Blue Jays are getting younger at a rapid pace, there are still a few veteran holders on the team including Russell Martin, Kendrys Morales, and Troy Tulowitzki.

The last name is one we haven’t seen on the field since June of 2017 when he badly rolled his ankle on first base while running out a ground ball. That injury and twin surgeries on both heels to remove bone spurs have kept him on the sidelines for over a season and a half, and it feels like an eternity since we’ve seen the 5x All-Star take an at bat. It’s hard to say if we ever will again, really.

To that end, the Blue Jays’ GM Ross Atkins was asked about Tulowitzki’s place in the organization going forward, and how he’ll fit into the picture over the final two seasons of his contract. Because he’s due at least 38 million in the next two years and has shown a complete inability to stay healthy, he’s not exactly someone the Blue Jays can shop on the trade market. Even if they’re willing to eat almost all of his salary, is anyone going to expect him to stay healthy enough to take him on?

Apparently the list of people that have lost faith in such an idea includes Atkins, and possibly even Tulowitzki himself. Atkins’ comments on the topic were a little alarming, even if he said what we have all been thinking for quite some time. From an article from Sportnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith yesterday:

"“Candidly, and I think Troy would agree with me, that is not likely. He will have to overachieve to play shortstop at an above-average level, with above-average offensive performance for 140 games. That would be unlikely based on what has occurred in the last two and a half years. That doesn’t mean he’s not going to do it but candidly, I don’t think that’s likely”."

That’s being awfully candid, and his use of the word is pretty accurate in this case.

He was also asked if he views Tulowitzki as a part-time player these days, and he admitted that he didn’t know the answer to that question just yet. There’s no doubt that Tulowitzki would want and maybe even expect to be out there every day if he’s healthy, but it would be to the detriment of the development of guys like Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Richard Urena, and eventually Bo Bichette.

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However, Tulo will have to actually get healthy enough to play on a regular basis for the hard conversation to really have to take place. It’s fine for us to speculate on the situation here in December, but we really don’t know how the 34 year old’s body is going to be responding in March and April. A lot could change before then, especially because we’re talking about Tulowitzki here. I mean no disrespect when I say that, it’s just that I’ve rarely witnessed a player so snake-bitten by injuries.

For what it’s worth it sounds like he is progressing a bit, at least according to to Nicholson-Smith’s article and Atkins’ comments on the veteran. However, it was also pointed out that the odds would be stacked against Tulowitzki to be anything like what we’ve witnessed from him at his peak, for a number of reasons. Nicholson-Smith pointed out that only three shortstops in baseball were over the age of 31 in 2018, and Russell Martin was one of just five players over 34 to make a start, none of them regulars at the position.

It’s one thing for Tulo to take up a spot on the 40 man roster, but it’ll be another if Charlie Montoyo has to find him some regular playing time, especially in a lineup that’s built for a rebuild. Atkins already traded away Aledmys Diaz, and DFA’d Yangervis Solarte in an effort to clear some space in the infield logjam, but there are still plenty of options. They have Gurriel Jr, Urena, Devon Travis, Brandon Drury, and several emerging youngsters on the way, and there are only so many starts to go around. Finding him room on the 25 man roster would be difficult, let alone regular at bats.

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While it’s good to hear that Tulowtizki has regained his range of motion and is progressing, it doesn’t sound like Atkins and his colleagues are expecting much of a contribution, if any. And it might sound disrespectful to say about such an accomplished player, but they might be equally pleased if he doesn’t make it back and force their hand to deal with the situation at all. It’s a shame, but it sounds like that’s what’s come to. You rarely hear a GM speak so openly negative about a player’s potential, especially in December.