Josh Donaldson can hardly believe the moves the Toronto Blue Jays were able to pull off this week.
After trading for all-star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki on Tuesday, Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos was at it again Thursday, adding former Cy Young Award winner David Price from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for a trio of prospects.
Speaking to media before Thursday's game against the Kansas City Royals, Donaldson gushed about the new-look roster.
"It feels like you're almost playing fantasy baseball, you know what I mean?" the Blue Jays third baseman said with a smile before reverting to his typically more serious tone. "With that being said, you have to go out there and you still have to win games."
The Blue Jays were two games back of Minnesota for the second American League wild-card spot when they secured Price, the 2012 AL Cy Young winner, in Thursday's deal that sent left-handed pitching prospects Daniel Norris, Matt Boyd and Jairo Labourt to Detroit.
While rumours had circulated for days that Price could be available ahead of the July 31 non-waiver deadline, the move shocked the Toronto clubhouse.
"I had seen on social media that they were getting close and I was like, 'I'm not going to believe it just yet,'" Donaldson said. "Then when I saw it was confirmed I was very happy because you know what a guy like that brings to the table. He's one of those guys who's a front-of-the-line starter who's going to help the ball club in more ways than one."
Price, who is set to become a free agent at the end of this season, is 9-4 this season with a 2.53 earned-run average. In his major-league career, the left-hander is 95-55 with a 3.13 ERA and 1,285 strikeouts in 1,367 1/3 innings.
Anthopoulos, who said Thursday that the Blue Jays hadn't had a clear No. 1 starter like Price since Roy Halladay, also spoke about his club's enthusiasm for the move.
The Blue Jays general manager said slugger Jose Bautista was among those who reached out to him to ask if the rumours were true.
"I said yes, and he just wrote 'yes' with about a million exclamation marks," Anthopoulos said.
The week's moves provided a stark contrast to the Blue Jays' lack of action at last year's deadline, which led to Bautista and then closer Casey Janssen voicing their concerns publicly.
Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey admitted that that lack of action had a negative impact on last year's team. This time, the 40-year-old expects the acquisitions of Tulowitzki and Price will have a positive psychological effect.
"Just like I'm a believer that the opposite can happen when you don't make a move, you can often see teams kind of tank – I think we were victim of that last year as a matter of fact," Dickey said.
"I don't know how you quantify it but I certainly think it gives us a big boost in morale," Dickey added. "It's a huge add; you're getting the total package with this guy."
Price will slot into the rotation ahead of Dickey, Drew Hutchison, Mark Buehrle and Marco Estrada.
His next scheduled start is Sunday, which would coincide with the last game of the four-game series against the AL-leading Kansas City Royals, but manager John Gibbons said he could start him Monday, the first day of a crucial four-game set against the Minnesota Twins.
Regardless of when Price makes his Toronto debut, his new teammates are looking forward to seeing him in a Blue Jays uniform – and the significance of what that represents.
"I'll say this: It's not deflating when they don't make a move, but it gives you that much more energy when they do," Tulowitzki said.
"For this to be their second big move in the last couple days, it tells you, 'Hey, we're in it, we think we can win here. We're going to give you guys the pieces. Now it's up to you.'"