Heading into the trade deadline in 2015, the Toronto Blue Jays stood six games back of first in the AL East. There were 14 deadline deals made, including the signings of LaTroy Hawkins, Ben Revere, and Mark Lowe. Obviously the biggest names to come to Toronto were David Price and Troy Tulowitzki. As soon as the Jays signed both Tulowitzki and Price, the club sold over 300,000 tickets for the rest of the season.
Move forward to the 2016 campaign, the only player to remain with the club, from those trades after making an appearance in the clubs first ALCS since 1993, Tulowitzki. Price would move to Boston, Revere to Washington, Lowe to the Tigers, and Hawkins would call it quits on his career. The club would also see Mark Buehrle walk as well as 15 other members depart ways, whether through trades, free agent signings, or through being DFA’d.
August 1, 2016, let’s take a look at where the club is now, and what Shapiro and Ross Atkins worked out ahead of this year’s deadline. They currently stand just half a game back of first (59-46) in the AL East, taking it over momentarily Saturday, hosting the Baltimore Orioles. They would then lose that lead, after falling in 12 innings Sunday. The front office staff went out and got Melvin Upton Jr. to help as another outfielder. They also signed Justin Smoak to a 2-year deal. Reason being for these two acquisitions primarily was for a safety net. In case Jose Bautista or Edwin Encarnacion don’t return in 2017, they now have appropriate guys to be their replacements for now. Toronto also went out and signed Jason Grilli and Joaquín Benoit. Since they have joined Toronto, they have performed just as they are supposed to, helping out the club thus far in the sixth, seventh, and eight innings.
The Jays did make a couple moves on trade deadline day. The club got Francisco Liriano, sending Drew Hutchison the other way. Toronto also received two prospects in OF Harold Ramirez and C Reese McGuire. They would also send Jesse Chavez to the Los Angeles Dodgers, getting back Mike Bolsinger. Chavez was seen struggling with his consistency out of the bullpen, not able to lock down his innings when he was called upon. Bolsinger is currently pitching in Triple A, and is 1-4 with a 6.83 ERA through 6 starts. He will most likely be signed to Buffalo for now, with a potential call-up in September, if there are any injuries or to help the pen out if someone gets injured. For now, he will slot into where Hutchison was in Buffalo.
Liriano will be put into the fifth rotation spot, sending Sanchez back into the bullpen. He has a 5.46 ERA, going 6-11 in 2016, but new ballparks mean new opportunities. Sending Aaron back into the pen, will help the struggles they have faced in the later end of ballgames. Considering Sanchez is 11-1 with a 2.71 ERA pitching in 139.1 innings, the club has decided to move him back to the pen. He is having himself a CY Young award winning season, yet when Ross Atkins spoke out to the media earlier today, to sum it up, he doesn’t want to take a risk. He mentioned how the transition for Sanchez from starting to the bullpen is something he is familiar with and would give the Blue Jays club an increase in their chance to reach the world series and for him to be a bigger part in that run. Once he is transitioned, he will be put into a relief role, like he was last year.
They also sent 18-year-old Guadalupe Chavez to Houston, for Scott Feldman. Feldman is 5-3, with a 2.90 ERA. The good part about Feldman, he was originally in the pen in the early years of his career. This makes him a versatile player, able to pitch wherever he would be found most useful. The look around the club is they are going to head in 1 direction. Liriano had good success with Russell Martin in Pittsburgh, so for now, he will get the opportunity to turn things around and get the wins on the fifth day for the Jays.
Overall, yes, Shaprio and Atkins didn’t do as much as Anthopoulous did last season, however what a lot of Jays faithful forget is that a lot of the pieces to see a world series team is still in place. The only difference is that the other four teams in the East, went out and got better pieces to appropriately help their respective clubs. Heading into the last two months of the season, it is going to be a tight race in the east, and for the Jays loyal fans, they will see a similar situation as last year. It is going to come down to the last couple weeks of the season on whether or not they will repeat at AL east champs.