December 3rd, 2014
Not long after the Donaldson deal, general manager Alex Anthopoulos brought Michael Saunders back to his home country in a straight-up deal for J.A. Happ, his current teammate.
After a pair of injury-shortened seasons with the Blue Jays, Happ threw 158.0 innings for Toronto in 2014 with a 4.22 ERA. At the time, Saunders was trending in a slightly different direction health-wise. After two relatively full seasons in 2012-13, he appeared in just 75 games in 2014. He did, however, compile a WAR of 2.0 in that short time.
Both players took the long road through 2015 – Happ struggling in Seattle before resuscitating his career in Pittsburgh with Saunders missing nearly the entire season – but they’ve now reunited as allies.
This isn’t a deal to declare a winner or loser in, but without this move to set a specific chain of events into action (for better and for worse), perhaps the Blue Jays rotation and outfield both look different in 2016.
July 28th, 2015
The Blue Jays jumped the deadline by a few days last season, making a completely unexpected change at shortstop by bringing in perennial All-Star Troy Tulowitzki. The news broke in the middle of the night after Anthopoulos had chased Tulowitzki since the offseason prior.
Tulowitzki is just now rounding into his true form with the Blue Jays after a pair of injuries in 2015 and earlier this year. He’s raised his 2016 OPS to .793 with 15 home runs, and when his excellent defence is considered, the Blue Jays are beginning to experience the fullest value of Tulowitzki.
LaTroy Hawkins was a savvy throw-in piece, as well, giving the Blue Jays a veteran bullpen presence and some quality pitching down the stretch.
Jose Reyes was the highest-profile name going the other direction. He has since been suspended by Major League Baseball for domestic violence, released by the Rockies, and recently made his re-debut with the New York Mets where he, against any logic or reason, received cheers. Further recommended reading on Reyes can be found here at Vice Sports by Stacey May Fowles.
Jeff Hoffman’s prospect appeal has continued to shine for Colorado despite some struggles. He was ranked the number 68 prospect by Baseball America and number 52 by MLB.com entering the season, and is generally considered a top three-to-four prospect in their organization. In 17 starts with triple-A Albuquerque this season he’s posted a 4.03 ERA with 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings. Given the Rockies’ rotation difficulties, he could earn his MLB debut sooner than later.
Miguel Castro, the flame-throwing 21-year-old, has bounced between triple-A, MLB, and injuries in 2016. He’s 6.14 ERA in 19 appearances out of the Rockies bullpen, but given his age, plenty of time remains for his development. Jesus Tinoco is currently playing for Advanced-A Modesto and ranked as the organization’s number 15 prospect by MLB Pipeline. He’s put up a 7.30 ERA between two levels this season.
Hoffman’s ceiling as starter may tilt the needle in this one, but if Tulowitzki continues his recent trends, the Blue Jays got what they wanted for a price that shouldn’t be crippling long-term.
Next: The big day: Blue Jays land Price