I normally wouldn’t do a post about a guy losing a backup catcher competition, but this one is notable because he was supposed to be an extra special backup catcher: the Blue Jays have sent Josh Thole down to the minors.
Many thought the whole point of the Mets including Thole in the deal that sent R.A. Dickey to Toronto was so that he could be Dickey’s personal catcher. You know, because knuckleballers are so erratic and need a special guy around. Maybe the height of this was when The Red Sox took such efforts to get Doug Mirabelli back from the Padres in 2006, after Tim Wakefield had to go without his special services behind the plate for almost a whole month. Mirabelli had a friggin’ police escort to Fenway Park he was so important.
But there are apparently limits to what a team will do for a knuckleballer’s special friend, and carrying Thole’s bat is the limit. Thole hit just .234/.294/.290 last year and was doing even worse this spring for his new club. It appears as though Henry Blanco who, conservatively, has been catching 142 years, will get the backup job.
At least six teams are interested in free agent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, according to a recent report from Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Known suitors include the Cubs, who will reportedly be in attendance during one of the shortstop’s offseason workouts as they decide whether or not to press forward with a deal.
The Blue Jays released Tulowitzki on Tuesday as general manager Ross Atkins admitted he couldn’t rely on the 34-year-old to bounce back from season-ending bone spur removal surgery and be the kind of consistent presence the club needed going forward. Toronto is expected to absorb the remaining $38 million on Tulowitzki’s contract, which includes the $20 million he’s due in 2019, another $14 million in 2020 and a $4 million buyout in 2021.
The veteran slugger will be available to any interested team at a minimum $600,000, an undeniably attractive bargain if he recovers in advance of the 2019 season. He last appeared in the majors in 2017 and slashed .249/.300/.378 with 17 extra-base hits and a .678 OPS through 260 PA. Per Slusser, Tulowitzki appears to be angling for a job with the Athletics — even going so far as to say he’d be willing to switch positions in order to play for a winning team — though they have yet to reach out about a potential deal this winter.