Blue Jays GM lowers expectations for Tulowitzki in 2019
Tom Szczerbowski / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The Toronto Blue Jays will pay shortstop Troy Tulowitzki $20 million next season, but they don't anticipate the production will befit the salary.

Tulowitzki missed the entire 2018 season following surgery on both of his heels. When asked if the five-time All-Star would finally be back to his old self next season, Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins admitted his expectations are low.

"Candidly, and I think Troy would agree, that’s not likely," the GM said Wednesday, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. "He will have to over-achieve 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, but that doesn’t mean he’s not going to do it.

"But candidly," Atkins added, "I don’t think that’s likely."

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. would start at shortstop if the season began tomorrow, Atkins said, according to the Toronto Sun's Rob Longley, although the GM expects Tulowitzki to enter spring training with a chance to win the starting job.

"That’s absolutely what we want him to be thinking," Atkins explained. "I think any professional athlete, especially someone that has had his track record, is not going to be thinking about his career in terms of being a pinch hitter, being a DH, being someone that could from time to time play shortstop. He’s just not there."

The 34-year-old Tulowitzki last appeared in a big-league contest on July 28, 2017, and has only played 238 total games for the Blue Jays since arriving in a 2015 trade.

In Toronto, the veteran owns a .250/.313/.414 slash line with 36 home runs and 122 RBIs.

He's owed $34 million through 2020 and has a $15-million club option for 2021.

Blue Jays GM lowers expectations for Tulowitzki in 2019
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