SEATTLE – Having made a pair of deals to bolster the bullpen a night earlier, the Toronto Blue Jays stood pat as the non-waiver trade deadline passed Tuesday afternoon while recalling outfield prospect Moises Sierra from triple-A Las Vegas.
Brad Lincoln, acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday night for Travis Snider, was expected to join the club at Safeco Field while fellow right-handed reliever Steve Delabar, acquired from the Seattle Mariners for Eric Thames, simply had to walk across the field to his new clubhouse.
Sierra flew in alongside Thames, with relievers Joel Carreno and Evan Crawford optioned to Las Vegas to clear space on the big-league roster.
The moves gave manager John Farrell some new weapons to help a bullpen that began the day ranked 25th in the majors in ERA at 4.30, while also putting in place some relief arms for the team to build around in the future.
“We felt that the bullpen in 2012 could still be improved and even beyond that in 2013, I don’t think that’s any surprise when you look at the number of free agents we had in our bullpen before these trades,” GM Alex Anthopoulos said during a conference call. “We were going to need to solidify that somehow and getting some guys with power arms and swing and miss stuff and a lot of years in control had a lot of appeal for us.”
At the same time, the Snider-Thames left field debate was put to rest for good, with the apparent creation of a Gose-Sierra competition for the spot both now and beyond.
There will be room for both to play while Jose Bautista recovers from his left wrist injury, but once he returns to reclaim his spot in right field, only left field will be open with Colby Rasmus locked in at centre field.
“I wouldn’t rule anything out,” said Anthopoulos. “I don’t think we’re going to lock ourselves into anything. If someone takes the job, whether it’s in the bullpen or the outfield, and runs with the job, right now it’s open. As it’s been all year, we’ve had multiple guys in left field and we still think we have a lot of talent there that can still fill the role for us and do a good job.”
Sierra, 23, was hitting .289/.360/.472 with 17 homers and 63 RBIs in 100 games for triple-A Las Vegas and has both tremendous raw power at the plate and a cannon for an arm in right field.
“There was even a point in time we talked about him last summer for a short period of time,” said Anthopoulos. “He’s got as good an arm as any right-fielder in the game, high energy player, we think he has the type of upside to be a Nelson Cruz type player … his skillset and certainly his tools match that.”
What the Blue Jays didn’t accomplish at the deadline was the acquisition of a starter, although the earlier deal with Houston that netted J.A. Happ gives them an option for the rotation once a starter falters.
At the same time the looming return of Brandon Morrow from an oblique injury — he’s got three more rehab starts to make before getting re-evaluated — will act as a kind of deadline acquisition, although one the Blue Jays will have to wait three weeks for.
Two big-name starters they were linked to, Matt Garza and Josh Johnson, weren’t moved ahead of the deadline.
There was unconfirmed speculation the Blue Jays made a late run at Garza, and without getting into specifics, Anthopoulos hinted another deal was possible before coming undone.
“We thought we were moving toward something late last night, we had a late night here, really late, didn’t get a whole lot of sleep, it carried over to the morning and it ended up falling apart,” he said. “It happens each trade deadline, it happens in the off-season. … I don’t know that were ever that close to getting anything done.”