It was not exactly the kind of high-profile move many were anticipating general manager Alex Anthopoulos would engineer at the trade deadline to bolster the playoff chances of the Toronto Blue Jays.
But Anthopoulos insists that the two deals he managed to pull off late Monday night that netted the Blue Jays two relative unknowns in relievers Brad Lincoln and Steve Delabar have helped improve the club moving forward.
“I think at the end of the day the fans will understand that we’re ultimately doing what we think is best for the short- and long-term of the club,” Anthopoulos said Tuesday afternoon during a telephone conference call with reporters. “And I don’t think anybody wants us to make a bad deal.
“We have the ability to make bad deals, to make a splash and get a big name. A month later, two months later, everyone will probably look back and say that was a mistake.”
Lincoln was the more costly of the new additions, obtained from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for Travis Snider, Toronto’s 24-year-old left fielder who has never been able to live up to his immense potential since the Blue Jays chose him in the first round (14th overall) in the 2006 draft.
Lincoln, 27, was also a first-round pick that year – fourth overall to the Pirates, who is 4-2 this season with a 2.73 earned run average as both a starter and a reliever in Pittsburgh.
Delabar, 29, was plucked off the roster of the Seattle Mariners in exchange for Eric Thames, Toronto’s opening day starter in left field who lasted 46 games with the big league club before being sent to Triple A.
Delabar is 2-1 this season with a 4.17 ERA in 34 appearances with Seattle.
In the week’s leading up to Tuesday’s MLB non-waiver trade deadline, it was speculated that the Blue Jays would look to try and strengthen their roster through the addition of an established starter or two.
Toronto’s starting rotation has been decimated by injury this year with the loss of Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison.
Despite all that, the 51-51 Blue Jays have managed to keep within striking distance of the second playoff wild-card spot in the American League, beginning play on Tuesday 4.5 games off the pace.
The Blue Jays were rumoured to have expressed interest in a number of starters heading into the trade deadline, including the likes of Josh Johnson of the Miami Marlins and Matt Garza of the Chicago Cubs.
Without being specific, Anthopoulos said he had been involved in trade talks with a number of teams, discussions that also surrounded the possible acquisition of starting pitcher.
“Anything we thought could help our club,” he said.
But in the end the price was deemed just too high.
“We thought we were moving toward something last [Monday] night,” he said. “We had a late night here, really late, and didn’t have a whole lot of sleep and it carried over into the morning and ended up falling apart.
“Again, that happens each trade deadline.”
Anthopoulos said when the opportunity presented itself to strengthen his bullpen through the acquisition of Lincoln and Delabar he didn’t hesitate.
“We’ve added two big league players … to our bullpen,” he said. “I think we’ve improved our club because of where we’re positioned right now. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that at all.”
Player controllability is always a key element when Anthopoulos is conducting business and both Lincoln and Delabar fit that bill, under team control through the 2017 season.