Minor Blue Jays news and notes from January 7th, 2019, including an update on Troy Tulowitzki’s contract with the New York Yankees and the status of two former Blue Jays.
Tulowitzki Protected in New York
According to Jon Heyman of Fancred and MLB Network, Troy Tulowitzki will, in addition to the league minimum $555,000, be receiving a full no-trade clause from the New York Yankees in his new one-year contract. Heyman also remarks that Tulowitzki apparently had up to 16 teams interested in his services for the league minimum, giving him additional leverage in contract negotiations.
Tulowitzki, 34, was released by the Blue Jays on December 11 and signed with the Yankees on January 4. The Jays will be on the hook for $19.45 million of his salary in 2019.
Former Blue Jay Eckstein Joins Pirates
David Eckstein, who is perhaps best known to Blue Jays fans for the first half of the 2008 season, has joined the Pittsburgh Pirates front office as a special assistant within their growing baseball operations department, per Adam Berry of MLB.com.
Now 43, Eckstein enjoyed a 10-year major-league career that included two All-Star appearances, both of which with the St. Louis Cardinals. He signed a one-year deal with the Blue Jays in December 2007 and was traded to Arizona in August 2008.
Blue Jays Name New Minor League Coordinator
The Blue Jays are adding to their minor league staff, hiring Steve Rassel as their new minor league strength and conditioning coordinator, according to the Twitter account of the Webber International University strength and conditioning staff, his former employer.
Per his staff bio on the Webber website (link), Rassel previously served as strength and conditioning coach in the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs organizations.
Junior Lake Thriving in Dominican League
Former Blue Jay Junior Lake, who briefly appeared with the team during the 2016 season, is performing excellently for the Estrella de Oriente, leading the Dominican Winter League in RBI (24), runs scored (31), walks (31), and at-bats (173). In 50 games, he has slashed a dominant .289/.403/.399, adding seven doubles and 13 stolen bases.
Lake, 28, briefly spent time with the Seattle Mariners and Boston Red Sox before signing on with the Bravos de León of the Mexican League. Prior to coming to Toronto, he appeared in games for the Chicago Cubs and Baltimore Orioles.
Blue Jays named one of five “sleeper teams to watch” in 2019
MLB.com’s Richard Justice recently highlighted the 2019 Blue Jays as a “sleeper team to watch” going forward, writing that “no team is going to be more interesting” next season. Justice adds that the Jays are “going to be young [and] have some of baseball’s best talent, which isn’t a bad combination”.