"Through many conversations with Troy and his representative Paul Cohen, and with consideration to what is in the best interest of both sides, we made the decision to release Troy today," general manager Ross Atkins told reporters, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.
The 34-year-old is still owed $38 million over the next three seasons, including a $4-million buyout of his club option in 2021. By releasing him, the Blue Jays are on the hook for the entirety of that figure.
"For us it's (about) roster flexibility," Atkins explained to Sportsnet's Shi Davidi. "And for both it's the ability to be more proactive and responsive to the potential of not having that flexibility and Troy being on our roster and potentially not playing on a regular basis."
The oft-injured Tulowitzki missed all of 2018 due to bone spurs in both heels. He hasn't appeared in a game at any level since July 2017, when he suffered an ankle injury.
Toronto's decision to release Tulowitzki comes just a few days after Atkins admitted that the team had low expectations in terms of what he'd contribute in 2019. The Blue Jays are entering a rebuilding phase and young talent Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who's coming off a solid rookie season, appears to be their 2019 Opening Day shortstop. Tulowitzki had previously stated that he'd rather retire than be moved off his natural position.
"If (the Blue Jays) are really going to go with young guys next year, it's best to give Troy the opportunity now to seek out the best situation. In that regard, we're very grateful to both (Blue Jays president) Mark (Shapiro) and (general manager) Ross Atkins," Tulowitzki's agent Paul Cohen said in a statement to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
Cohen added that his client is in "great shape," according to Rosenthal.
Tulowitzki is currently working out at his alma mater, Long Beach State, according to Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan.
Tulowitzki joined the Blue Jays at the 2015 trade deadline in a blockbuster deal with the Colorado Rockies. He made an immediate impact in Toronto, helping the Blue Jays reach the ALCS in 2015 and 2016. His home run in Game 3 of the 2015 Division Series against the Texas Rangers helped the Blue Jays come back from a 2-0 series deficit.
But injuries - a common theme over the course of his 12-year career - continued to keep him off the field after the trade. He only appeared in 238 games for the Blue Jays and spent time on the disabled list during every season he spent north of the border, including 2015.
Tulowitzki, a five-time All-Star who owns a pair of Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards, is a career .290/.361/.495 hitter with 224 home runs and 779 RBIs over 1,286 games with the Blue Jays and Rockies.