As the Winter Meetings continue in Las Vegas, the Toronto Blue Jays announced that they have released shortstop Troy Tulowitzki from their roster. Tulowitzki is leaving the Blue Jays with two years left on his contract. The five-time All-Star is owed $34 million over the next two years, plus a $4 million buyout for 2021. Toronto must pay the full amount.

The sudden cut was a surprise to Toronto fans, but not entirely out of the blue, because it came after general manager Ross Atkins made some comments about the star infielder. Atkins previously said that Tulowitzki would have to "overachieve" to keep playing shortstop.

Atkins released a statement on Tuesday (December 11), saying that it was a difficult decision to make for the organization, but it had to be done. The 2018 season saw some major trades, so what is in store for the Blue Jays next year?

Troy Tulowitzki exit reshuffles the Blue Jays lineup

With Tulowitzki gone, it's my opinion that Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is the starting shortstop, Brandon Drury will move to third base, Devon Travis will be at second, and Just Smoak will play first base.

Tulowitzki has not played in a pro game since July 2017, because of injuries.

Tulowitzki has said he intends to play next season, but it's not clear where he will end up. Tulowitzki came from the Rockies in a trade that sent Jose Reyes, Miguel Castro, Jesus Tinoco, and Jeff Hoffman to Colorado.

Troy Tulowitzki pre-Toronto

Troy Tulowitzki came to Toronto with two NL Silver Slugger Awards, two Gold Glove Awards, and has been considered one of the top shortstops in the Major League Baseball.

His performance fell during his time in Toronto, appearing in only 238 over three seasons. Atkins called Tulowitzki professional and respectful and said his passion for the sport is unmatched. He was committed to the team.

Troy Tulowitzki is the latest big hitter to be released with years left on their massive contract. Others released include Pablo Sandoval and Carl Crawford.

They were all cut loose before their deals expired. Tulowitzki has recovered from his surgeries and has started working out this offseason. It would be a surprise if nobody picks him up in 2019. While his numbers have fallen the past two seasons, it's unclear whether they will continue to fall or whether he can get back to his prime, with whatever team agrees to make a deal with him. As the Winter Meetings continue, trade rumors continue to heat up.