Blue Jays players beaming over acquisitions
TORONTO -- When the Blue Jays didn't swing a deal to upgrade their roster at the 2014 non-waiver Trade Deadline, there were grumblings in the clubhouse that the club had missed an opportunity to gear up for a playoff run.
There will be no such concerns this season.
Toronto on Thursday traded for left-hander David Price in a deal with Detroit two days after acquiring All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki from Colorado, signalling the Blue Jays are serious about a postseason push.
"When you don't make a move, you can often see teams kinda tank. I think we were victim of that last year as a matter of fact," veteran right-hander R.A. Dickey said in the hours following the Price deal, which saw the Blue Jays ship three pitching prospects to Detroit in exchange for the 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner. "And I've seen other teams around the league that that's happened to as well. I don't know how you quantify it, but I certainly think [this] gives us a big boost in morale."
The 2014 Blue Jays had set themselves up nicely for a possible playoff run with a 60-50 record through July, but consensus among the club was that the team needed to add impact players before the Deadline if they wanted to contend down the stretch. When that didn't happen, noteworthy dissenters such as star outfielder Jose Bautista and former closer Casey Janssen, both veteran players, publicly voiced their displeasure with the organization's inaction.
Fast forward one year and the Blue Jays are the talk of baseball, having acquired a pair of premiere players only two days apart. In the clubhouse on Thursday, several players said they saw the deals as all-in moves by general manager Alex Anthopoulos.
"He really wants to win badly and he's doing a good job of getting us the personnel to be able to do that, and you like it when it's up to us," said Dickey, who shares an agent, Bo McKinnis, with Price. "You feel like it's all on us if we don't make it. It's good to have a GM who really wants to fight for that."
In adding a No. 1 starter in Price, the Blue Jays shored up a void at the front of the rotation that hasn't been filled since Roy Halladay played here. It's given the team a jolt of excitement, and could be enough to push them over the top, Tulowitzki said.
"I'll say this: it's not deflating when they don't make a move, but it gives you that much more energy when they do," Tulowitzki said as he prepared for his second game in a Blue Jays uniform. "So for this to be their second big move in the last couple days, it tells you, 'Hey, we're in it, we think we can win here. Now we're going to give you guys the pieces. Now it's up to you.' "
Josh Donaldson, a surprise off season addition after Anthopoulos made a deal to acquire the All-star third baseman from the A's, said he had to temper his initial excitement at social media reports that the Blue Jays had landed Price, who was considered to be the best pitcher available after the Reds traded Johnny Cueto to the Royals earlier in the week.
"You look around the clubhouse you're going to see a lot of all-stars," Donaldson said. "It feels like you're almost playing fantasy baseball, you know what I mean?"