Earlier this week Ross Atkins had some very interesting things to say about Troy Tulowitzki and the prospect of him starting at shortstop for the Blue Jays in 2019.
If the Blue Jays don’t want Tulowitzki at shortstop, where else can they even play him? As much as Lourdes Gurriel Jr. has staked his claim at shortstop, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (even though he hasn’t played a single game for them) is even more entrenched at 3rd base. With shortstop and 3rd base out of the question, it doesn’t leave many options for Tulowitzki.
Not only are these comments from Atkins coming out of the blue. But it’s the first time he’s ever publicly come out and gotten tough with one of his players. During the General Manager meetings that took place last month, Atkins was going on about how good Tulowitzki was coming along in his rehab. So what’s changed over the past month for Atkins to go from being so optimistic about Tulowitzki’s progress to being brutally honest about him losing his job at shortstop?
Can the #BlueJays expect a full & productive 2019 season from Troy Tulowitzki?
Ross Atkins: “Candidly, and I think Troy would agree, that’s not likely… that doesn’t mean he’s not going to do it, but candidly I don’t think that’s likely.”https://t.co/BhnkcbMOJV
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) December 5, 2018
I for one appreciate Atkins’ candor. Ever since becoming GM in late 2015, he’s had to walk on eggshells so as not to upset a fan base enamored with his predecessor. Funny that it was Alex Anthopoulos who saddled the Blue Jays with Tulowitzki and his burden of a contract.
Tulowitzki has said that if someone’s better than him at shortstop, he’ll pack his bags and go home. If that’s the case, what happens come Opening Day if he’s healthy and Gurriel is starting at shortstop? Based on Atkins’ comments, the Blue Jays seem comfortable with the idea of Tulowitzki on the bench. The big question now is whether Tulowitzki would be OK with such a scenario. Two years, the length remaining on Tulowitzki’s contract is a long time for a player with his credentials to be wasting away on the bench.
Tulowitzki knows his time in the big leagues is coming to a close. But at 34, he also probably believes (and rightfully so) that he can still contribute at the big league level. Atkins has made it pretty clear Tulowitzki’s opportunity to start likely won’t happen with the Blue Jays. Considering this, would Tulowitzki be open to the idea of a buyout (not for the complete amount remaining on his contract) in order for him to play somewhere else and take advantage of the few years where he’s still young and fit enough to play?