It’s wait-until-the-offseason for the Toronto Blue Jays.
A generally quiet major league trading deadline passed on Wednesday without general manager Alex Anthopoulos making a deal to address his roster weaknesses, while AL East rivals Baltimore and Boston strengthened their starting pitching to push for a playoff berth.
The Orioles picked up right-hander Bud Norris from the Houston Astros in an 11th-hour trade, and the Red Sox landed the big prize, White Sox starter Jake Peavy, in a three-way transaction late Tuesday night. That deal saw their 23-year-old backup shortstop, Jose Iglesias, move to the Detroit Tigers who needed insurance in case incumbent shortstop Jhonny Peralta is suspended this week in the Biogenesis scandal.
Anthopolous said he would look to address the middle infield (read: second base) and rotation situations with trades and free-agent acquisitions once the regular season ends.
The Texas Rangers were looking for a power hitting outfielder in case right fielder Nelson Cruz is suspended for his alleged link to Biogenesis but were unable to swing a deal. Texas spoke to the Jays several times in an attempt to acquire right fielder Jose Bautista, sources say, and several reporters tweeted as much on Wednesday. Bautista, hitting .254 with 21 doubles, 25 homers and 66 RBIs, is signed through 2015.
“There were two things that we tried to do, and they did not once get in the media rumour mill,” Anthopoulos said. “A lot of things about us shopping a player and being asked about players were completely false.”
The Tigers and Red Sox were among teams chasing Jays right-handed reliever Steve Delabar and perhaps left-hander Brett Cecil, each an all-star.
The Angels shopped second baseman Howie Kendrick but elected to retain him, the day after the 30-year-old picked up career hit No. 1,000 in Tuesday’s game against the Texas Rangers. The Jays have discussed a deal for him before and were said to be in the mix Wednesday, but the Angels wanted starting pitching in return.
It was surprising that left-hander Darren Oliver was not moved, after he confirmed his retirement plans in an interview on Sunday. Oliver played one more season in pursuit of a championship ring, and first-place Pittsburgh was one possible destination for him on Wednesday. Oliver would have been interested in a move to Texas, where he lives. However, Anthopoulos said the market for left-handed relievers was dry, though Cleveland and Arizona made separate deals to obtain specialists.
The Blue Jays, dragged down by injuries in the rotation and underwhelming performances from players acquired in the off-season, are stuck in last place in the AL East, having lost 21 of 32 games, following a win over Oakland on Wednesday. Several GMs approached the with creative concepts, Anthopoulos said, but the club decided to let them breathe rather than act now.
“I still feel good about a lot of our players but like every season you evaluate,” said the fourth-year Jays GM. “There’s no question we’re going to have to make changes and improve the roster in various ways, but there weren’t those opportunities for us [at the trade deadline], in terms of deals that made sense right now.”
It remains possible that Oliver and others could be moved, with right-hander Sergio Santos due to come off a rehab assignment soon. Trades can be made after Wednesday’s deadline, though players must now clear waivers.
Peralta is among a group of players who have been linked in media reports to Biogenesis, a closed Florida anti-aging clinic that was accused by Miami New Times in January of distributing banned performing-enhancing drugs, sparking an investigation by Major League Baseball. The league could hand down multiple suspensions as part of the case in a matter of days.
"The frank reality is that I do not know what is going to happen with Jhonny, but with this move, we now feel well protected if there is a long suspension," Tigers general manager David Dombrowski said. "We didn't feel we were well protected in that situation with our internal options. If it were a 15-day thing, like a typical injury, I think we could have comfortably dealt with it with the players we already have, but when you start to talk about 50 days and a possible playoff run, we feel better going ahead with Jose."
Peavy is 8-4 with a 4.28 ERA in 13 starts this season. The 2007 NL Cy Young Award winner was considered the best starting pitcher on the market ahead of Wednesday's non-waiver deadline.
"If there's one thing we wanted to do, if we could pull it off, is to add a starting pitcher as we look at the next two months," Boston general manager Ben Cherington said.
With right-hander Clay Buchholz on the disabled list with a shoulder problem, the move gives Boston another proven starter for the stretch run in the tough AL East. It also could strengthen the bullpen if the Red Sox decide to return rookie Brandon Workman to a relief role if Buchholz comes back.
"We thought Peavy, of the starting pitchers available, was the right fit for us," Cherington said. "It just came together that this was the deal we thought made the most sense."
The Red Sox also got reliever Brayan Villarreal from the Tigers. They shipped Iglesias to Detroit and three minor leaguers to the White Sox as part of the trade.
Chicago also received prized Detroit outfield prospect Avisail Garcia. Garcia, who turned 22 in June, hit .374 with five homers and 23 RBIs in 33 games for Triple-A Toledo.
"We're very excited about his upside," general manager Rick Hahn said. "We truly feel this is a five-tool player, someone who's not only going to hit for average but for power, run well, play above-average defence.
"He's still young and he still has a little bit of development ahead of him, but we feel we've acquired someone with a great deal of upside who's going to have a big impact on the South Side for many years to come."
The Orioles previously obtained right-hander Scott Feldman (9-8, 3.89 combined NL and AL) from the Cubs on July 2, reliever Francisco Rodriguez from the Brewers on July 23. Norris, 6-9 with a 3.93 ERA, wanted out of Houston, the worst team in the AL. He’s now working for a contender.
With a file from Jeff Blair and a report from The Associated Press