Before a flurry of high-profile late-July deadline trades by sixth-year general manager, Alex Anthopoulos, the Toronto Blue Jays had the dubious distinction of being the MLB’s highest scoring team but still having a  sub-.500 record. Under a week into August, they’ve already gone 9-1 in their last ten to claim a respectable .532 record. Clearly, the team had needed a change. 

The Trades

The foremost problem, most analysts agreed, was a lack of depth in pitching, both among Toronto’s starters and bullpen.

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In addition, there was the matter of finding a competent left fielder. However, the first item addressed was dependability at shortstop. 

Though some fans and teammates might deny it, former SS Jose Reyes was a problem.

He was not for causing team tension, but the opposite. Frankly, Reyes was having too much fun. His over-elaborate, individualized celebrations with teammates, lack of concentration, and favouring of flair over effectiveness on the field were all excessive and threatened to pervade the team. 

On July 28, likely also due to Reyes’ questionable health, Anthopoulos shrewdly traded him for five-time all-star, two-time gold glover, and all-around serious guy Troy Tulowitzki, a nine-year pro with the Colorado Rockies. The Blue Jays simultaneously bolstered their bullpen with veteran reliever LeTroy Hawkins. Since joining the team, “Tulo” has been a flawless defender with a team-high OPS and 5 RBI.

On July 30, the Jays accomplished another coup, acquiring five-time all-star and 2012 Cy Young winner David Price from the Detroit Tigers.

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Among the league’s most dominant pitchers, Price possesses two-seam and four-seam fastballs that top out at 100mph, a 90mph cutter, a high-velocity change-up, and an 80mph spike curve ball that helped him claim the 2014 MLB strike out title. In his first game with the Blue Jays, Price struck out an incredible 11 batters while allowing three hits and just one earned run.

Finally, on July 31, the last day for trades, Anthopoulos added left fielder Ben Revere from the Philadelphia Phillies. A solid outfielder with speed on the bags and a sky-high six-year career batting average of .292, Revere was the NL hits leader in 2014. He lacks power, but the Jays hardly need that, as they’re currently second in the league in that category.

Analysis / The Future

Some feel Anthopoulos gave up too many quality pitching prospects to achieve this nearly unprecedented series of trades and others have questioned whether Anthopoulos can retain Price’s services into 2016. But after 22 years elapsed since last appearing in the 1993 MLB playoffs, also the year Toronto won their second consecutive of two all-time World Series pennants, the fanbase is not concerned about next year.

They want to win right now.

To do so, the Blue Jays will prefer to conquer their division, the AL East, rather than enter the playoffs as a wild card, a position they presently hold. Accomplishing that will mean unseating the current division leaders, the vaunted New York Yankees, by eliminating their 3.5 game lead. Both teams are hard hitting and very adept at scoring runs, so it won’t be easy. But with their renewed focus on team defence, increased pitching depth, and a boost in their overall intimidation factor at the plate, the Blue Jays seem poised to make a go of it.

The Jays and Yankees will also square off directly 12 more times over the next two months before the end of the 2015 season. If Toronto continues to play as they have since the trade deadline, there’s no reason this rivalry shouldn’t heat up to become the number one story in baseball by mid-September.