The Toronto Blue Jays are right in the midst of the playoff hunt. They are right there in the Wildcard hunt and they are lurking in the shadows of the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles. Toronto was a team that was maybe a few pieces away despite how well they have played. And many looked at them to fade away as the season came to a close. The Yankees have always been the team to make the big acquisition near the trade deadline or before the season. Well, the Toronto Blue Jays decided that it was their turn to make it happen. As the trade deadline approached, the Blue Jays picked up shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and pitcher David Price. Both are talented players and can definitely help the Blue Jays. And at their peaks, they could definitely make the Blue Jays a scary team. But with everything, there is always a level of risk.
The shortstop position was one the Blue Jays thought would be special. They had the speedy Jose Reyes and he was expected to wreak havoc on the bases for them. But unfortunately, he was not able to stay healthy. Two of the three years he was in Toronto, he was not able to play in 100 games. And despite the excitement he could bring, the health was a big issue. So along with a few other players, Reyes was shipped to Colorado for the services of Tulowitzki and relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins. Of course adding Hawkins, a veteran arm in the bullpen, never hurts any team. But the main attraction in this deal is obviously “Tulo”. The veteran shortstop was not exactly happy being in Colorado anymore, but he surely did not expect to be in Toronto if he was traded. But this trade puts Tulo back into a playoff race, which he was not close to being in while a member of the Rockies. Tulo is capable of making some things happen with his power and his ability in the infield to make great plays. But along with the great things he can do, health is always an issue with him as well. Despite being on pace to play in more than 100 games this season, Tulo has not played in more than 100 games two of the previous three seasons. And then there is the question about his power. Tulo is on pace to hit over 20 homeruns along with hitting .300 this year. But how much of that can be tied into where he was playing? Tulowitzki played in Coors Field, where the ball is known to be flying out of the park. That theory will be put to the test the rest of the season as he goes to the play in Canada. If he plays to his ability, he can add to the power already in the Blue Jays lineup. It will be interesting to see how he will be in a new environment and how he adjusts. But now the Blue Jays are on the hook for the rest of his contract, which jumps from $7 million to $20 million next season.
Along with the acquisition of Tulowitzki, the Blue Jays made yet another splash on the trade market. Looking at the pitching of the Blue Jays, no one really scares you that they have. The best pitcher they have had all season has been Mark Buehrle. He has pitched well in Toronto, going 11-5 with a 3.29 ERA and gobbling up 134 innings so far. But after him, there is not one starting pitcher that strikes any fear in opposing teams. So the Blue Jays went out and got one of the best pitchers on the market, David Price. The veteran pitcher was acquired from the Detroit Tigers and now the Blue Jays have their star pitcher. Price is a guy that can lead a team deep in the playoffs with his skill, pitching prowess and his will to succeed. And in the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Price is 7-0 with a 3.86 ERA, his most wins without a loss in any stadium he has ever played in. Now the Blue Jays can slide Buehrle to the number two pitcher and R.A. Dickey can now slide to the number three role. Although this may not be the most potent 1,2,3 in baseball, all three are veteran pitchers. The addition of Price definitely helps Toronto, but for how long can help? Price has been one of the best pitchers in baseball for a while now and this summer he can hit the free agent market. Many are expecting him to break the bank in excess of $30 million per season. The question now becomes was he a rental or will he want to stay a member of the Toronto Blue Jays? Odds are the Blue Jays will not have the money to make it happen and will let him walk. So instead of building something with him, they are hoping for lightning to strike again like it did when they had Joe Carter and crew and won the World Series back in 1993. Another issue they may have to think about is Price’s performance in the playoffs as opposed to the regular season. Price is solid in the regular season and he strikes fear in teams. But apparently in the postseason, he is not the type that can make it happen. He had one solid game in the postseason last year. But he has mostly not pitched like the stud pitcher he is in the postseaon. His postseason ERA has been over 4.00 three of his five postseason appearances. This is not indicative of a number one starter in the playoffs. And even though he may be able to lead them there, he definitely has some demons to conquer when he is in the postseason.
The Blue Jays are locked in and ready to make a run. And with the two new acquisitions, their team got even better. Price and Tulowitzki can add to the team, but they both have some things to conquer within themselves. Tulo has to stay healthy and Price has to pitch well in the postseason if they make it. But after these two moves, the Blue Jays have definitely pushed all their chips to the center of the table. As time goes by, it will be interesting to see whether they roll snake eyes or get lucky when going all in.