Troy Tulowitzki’s contract, health put Blue Jays in difficult position
Last week marked two years since Xander Bogaerts Jersey the Blue Jays traded forTroy Tulowitzki. It was one of the most unexpected deadline deals in recent memory,one which took place in the early hours of July 28,2015, and caught nearlyall of baseball offguard.Theacquisition was one of the driving factors behind the Jays’second-half turnaround in 2015 and theireventual American League East title.Two years later, Tulowitzki is the sole holdover from the club’swhirlwind 2015 trade deadline. And after 238 games in aJays uniform, the honeymoon phase has gradually worn off for Tulo in Toronto.Now, he’s on the disabled list with an ankle injury that may spell an end to his 2017 season.MORE: Baseball’s most painful contractsAs magical as it was for the Blue Jays to acquire a player of Tulowitzki’s caliber, they now have to deal with the repercu sions of having a shortstop entering his age-33 season who’s under contract for three more seasons. The Blue Jays owe Tulowitzki $58 million on the remainder of his contract, which includes a $4 million buyout for the 2021 season.Factoring in Tulowitzki’s age, his declining offense and defense, and his onerous contract, the Blue Jays have adifficult road ahead. In fact,Tulowitzki’s contract looks to be one of the most untenable in baseball.His offensive numbers took a huge nosedive this season, as Tulowitzki’s .678 OPS is the worst of his everyday playing career. A career-high 52.5 percentground ball rate is another concerning statistic, which means he’s failing to barrel up Tyler Thornburg Jersey the ball and is inducing a higher rate of soft contact.If would be one thing if Tulowitzki was still a defensive wizard at shortstop. But in 2017, it seems he’slost a step in the field, as most of his defensive numbers slipped.His offensive and defensive decline could simply be linked to injuries; he dealt with a hamstring injury earlier in the season and now has the ankle i sue to overcome.Through his two-plus seasons with the Blue Jays, Tulowitzki has been the consummate hot and cold hitter, but he’s always provided exceptional defense at a premium position. ButTulowitzki just hasn’t looked like himself in 2017.MORE: MLB’s worst bang for the buck at eachposition in 2017Further complicating the matters for the Blue Jays: Once the Rockies dealt Tulowitzki in 2015, it activated a full no-trade clause for the duration of his contract. Regardle s,there probably isn’t a market for Tulowitzki, making him e sentially untradeable even if he waived the no-trade clause. Finding a taker for an injury-prone 32-year-old shortstop with $58 million left on his contract would be a Herculean task for the Blue Jays.If theJays had a shortstop in their farm system waiting in the wings, the organization might be better motivatedto make a decision onTulowitzki’s future. But Richard Urena and Lourdes Gurriel, the Jays’ best bets as shortstop succe sors,may be two orthree years away.In the meantime, the Blue Jays may have no choice but to play Tulowitzki at shortstop for the foreseeable Nomar Garciaparra Jersey future until one of their prospects is readyor the club makes a trade for a viable replacement.That’s not to say Tulowitzki is doneby any means. It’s presumptuous to write off a 32-year-old shortstop, and 2017 could very well have been an aberration. But it’s a situation worth monitoring closely because of some disturbing trends that have developed in Tulowitzki’s game his sudden increase in ground ball percentage, his dip in exit velocity and his declining defensive metrics among them.MORE: The 10 greatest Blue Jays of all timeFor most of the 2017 season, the Blue Jays were one of the oldest teams in baseball. 2018 doesn’t project to be much different, with a core of players in their mid-30s.Tulowitzki’s days as a middle-of-the-order contributor are long gone. Now it’s merely a case of placing him somewhere in the lineup where he won’t be a liability. In an era when hitters are hitting the ball faster, higher and further than ever before, Tulowitzki has gone in the opposite direction.In a perfect scenario, Tulowitzki comes back next year and provides above-average defense for the Blue Jays at shortstop and league-average offense at his position. However, if 2017 is a preview of what’s to come for Tulowitzki, things could take an ugly turn.
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