Gibbons not anticipating a Tulo return in '18

August 25th, 2018

TORONTO -- Blue Jays manager John Gibbons says he doesn't expect to see on the field this season.

The 33-year-old shortstop has been on the 60-day disabled list since March 29 and has not played since July 28, 2017, when he stepped awkwardly on the first-base bag against the Angels and sustained a right ankle sprain.

Over four seasons with Toronto, Tulowitzki has played in just 238 games, hitting .250 with a .313 OBP and 36 home runs. While his defense slipped in 2017, it was a crucial part of the Blue Jays' playoff runs in '15 and '16. He replaced on July 29, 2015, and the Blue Jays finished that season on a 42-18 tear.

"I miss him to tell you the truth," Gibbons said. "He's done a lot of good things while he's been here. I think he really shored us up in [2015], just with his defense."

Reyes committed 13 errors in 69 games with the Blue Jays in 2015, but once Tulowitzki showed up, that all changed. Tulowitzki didn't commit a single error down the stretch.

"I think that was the biggest difference," Gibbons said. "You know, came in, he was great, but he goes once every five days, a couple [other] bits and pieces here, they all did a great job, but Tulo shored up our defense and made a huge difference."

He continued to play stellar defense with average offense in 2016, but '17 was a struggle for Tulowitzki who hit .249 with a .300 OBP in 66 games while recording a zero WAR, according to Fangraphs.

Tulowitzki still has two years and $34 million remaining on his contract before the team can part ways by exercising a $4 million buyout in 2021. With a wealth of young middle infielders both on the Major League team and in the farm system, it could be a struggle for Tulowitzki to see the playing field. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is expected to finish this season as the team's primary shortstop, and at some point in the next two years Bo Bichette, the Blue Jays' No. 2 ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline, is expected to be called up to play the middle infield.