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Jose Bautista is greeted by his Toronto Blue Jays teammates after scoring a run in the 10th inning in Oakland on Wednesday. (Eric Risberg/The associated Press)
Jose Bautista is greeted by his Toronto Blue Jays teammates after scoring a run in the 10th inning in Oakland on Wednesday. (Eric Risberg/The associated Press)

Jeff Blair

Anthopoulos decides trade deadline not the right time to improve ball club Add to ...

The last time Alex Anthopoulos used similar words he ended up pulling off the biggest trade in Toronto Blue Jays history post-Pat Gillick. That was at last year’s trade deadline, when nobody realized the groundwork he felt he’d laid would later result in a blockbuster trade with the Miami Marlins.

Beyond acquiring reliever Steve Delabar the day before the deadline, Anthopoulos reported a whole lot of meh. Turns out a deal for Josh Johnson that withered on the vine under the pressure of baseball’s trade deadline blossomed again at the general managers’ meetings and the rest is history. Not great history mind you – in fact, the type of history that will take a winter to undo – but history nonetheless.

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All Anthopoulos could report of interest as Wednesday’s non-waiver trade deadline passed was the development of some “larger concepts” that could be revisited in the winter. So don’t bury all those Jose Bautista rumours yet. Keep them handy.

Anthopoulos sounded very much like somebody well aware he has heavy lifting ahead of him, so better to hang on to what he has in hope that value is maximized in the winter. The Jays GM’s priorities clearly remain a starting pitcher and middle infielder – and those are tough commodities when most of what you have to offer are underproducing players and the type of special projects for which serious contenders have precious little time.

What the 2013 Blue Jays have experienced is a total, calamitous breakdown. Like many Jays fans, Anthopoulos could be forgiven if he spent the trade deadline with the covers over his head, waiting for October.

Not every American League East team settled for the status quo. The biggest winner at the deadline was the Boston Red Sox, who acquired pitching depth both for the stretch drive and for next season, when GM Ben Cherington helped put together a three-way deal that brought him Jake Peavy.

Despite being a flyball pitcher, his low walk total (1.91 per nine innings, a career-best) is perfect for staying out of big innings at Fenway Park, and he’s under control for next season with a 2015 vesting option.

If Clay Buchholz (shoulder) gets healthy, the Red Sox can go toe to toe with the Tampa Bay Rays, who put starter Matt Moore (sore elbow) on the 15-day disabled list just before the expiration of the trade deadline. Jose Iglesias, the shortstop who went to the Detroit Tigers in the three-way trade, is a fine defender but the Red Sox still have Will Middlebrooks and Xander Bogaerts in the system.

An added benefit for the Red Sox was Peavy was kept away from the division rival Baltimore Orioles, who instead settled for Bud Norris from the Houston Astros, who wouldn’t be the first pitcher to be eaten alive in the AL East, especially given his decreasing velocity and trouble with left-handed batters.

With the fall-out from the Biogenesis scandal settling over the game – The Associated Press reports the commissioner’s office tipped off the Major League Baseball Players Association about the identity of players due to be suspended Thursday or Friday – it was widely anticipated two contenders facing the loss of core players would be active.

In Iglesias, the Tigers landed some cover for a possible suspension of Jhonny Peralta. But the Texas Rangers didn’t bring in another bat to bolster a lineup that needed outfield help even if Nelson Cruz wasn’t a candidate for suspension.

The Rangers’ inactivity was the most surprising bit of non-news at the deadline – especially since some teams reported the team had added recently-acquired starter Matt Garza into discussions about hitters – along with the silence from the top three teams in the National League Central: the Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds.

It’s a tough market in which to be a club with playoff aspirations, let alone a team like the Blue Jays.

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