The last-place Toronto Blue Jays had obvious needs heading into Wednesday’s trade deadline, but elected to do nothing and use the off-season to try to improve.
The 4 p.m. deadline came and went without general manager Alex Anthopoulos making any moves. Not that he didn’t try.
“I don't even know if I want to say that we came close. I would say we had some traction,” Anthopoulos said. “Ultimately it wasn't going to make sense.”
Anthopoulos is on record as saying trade-deadline day is like last-minute Christmas shopping. Given last year’s shopping spree, he clearly prefers to use the offseason to make his moves.
With the Blue Jays stuck in last place in the American League East, it looks like he will have more retooling to do come this winter.
The Blue Jays’ most pressing needs are starting pitching help and an everyday second baseman. The Blue Jays have used a revolving door of second baseman in 2013, including Maicer Izturis, Emilio Bonifacio, Brett Lawrie, Mark DeRosa and Munenori Kawasaki. Due to injury and ineptitude, the Jays have used 13 different starting pitchers this year.
"There's no question we need to make improvements, we need to get better and the results in the standings speak for themselves,” Anthopoulos said.
While a few notable pitchers were moved at the deadline, overall there was little activity. And realistically, the Blue Jays didn’t have a lot of high-end trading chips. Rumours swirled about trading the likes of reliever Darren Oliver or backup outfielder Rajai Davis. But that wouldn’t have brought the kind of return the Blue Jays needed.
After last year’s trading frenzy that landed them R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson and Jose Reyes, the Blue Jays aren’t exactly flush with prospects and they have a lot of veterans locked into expensive, long-term deals.
A trade on Wednesday would not have reversed the Blue Jays’ fortunes immediately anyway. With 56 games remaining and trailing by 9.5 games in the wild-card race, it’s already time to look ahead to next year. Especially with the rest of the AL East bulking up at the deadline.
The Boston Red Sox added Jake Peavy to their already strong starting rotation. The first-place Tampa Bay Rays acquired injured reliever Jesse Crain last week – though they put starter Matt Moore on the injured list Wednesday. After getting pitcher Scott Feldman from the Chicago Cubs, the Baltimore Orioles again added to their rotation by getting Bud Norris from the Houston Astros at the deadline.
As for the Blue Jays, the core of the team is locked up, and with a few additions and perhaps some better health, and luck, they will be expected to be contenders next year.
"I still feel good about a lot of our players," Anthopoulos said. "But like anything, from year to year, you evaluate and some evaluations change. The way that the season plays out each year, you have to adjust accordingly.”
Often, no move is the best move. We’ll have to wait and see what, if any, tricks Anthopoulos has up his sleeve for the offseason.