TORONTO — Over the course of their 39 seasons the Toronto Blue Jays have done some pretty good work on the trade market in July and August, ranging from clever complementary-piece acquisitions like Al Oliver and Mark Eichhorn to flashy high-profile additions such as David Cone and Rickey Henderson.
They’ve also made some pretty regrettable deals, most notably in 2000, when Esteban Loaiza was picked up from the Texas Rangers for pitching prospect Darwin Cubillan and a minor-league shortstop named Michael Young, whom you may have heard of.
The Blue Jays have enjoyed some success selling off assets, too, acquiring the likes of Duane Ward, Jose Cruz Jr., and Edwin Encarnacion, the latter a happy accident given that Zach Stewart was the actual target in the deal.
Still, most summer deals they’ve made fall somewhere in between swing and a miss and grand slam, which is worth remembering as this year’s July 31 non-waiver trade deadline inches closer and closer.
Any player or players GM Alex Anthopoulos may acquire in the days ahead guarantee nothing, and there is great risk in spending prospect capital for a short-term shot in the arm.
The Cone deal on Aug. 28, 1992 cost the Blue Jays a legit Hall of Fame candidate in infielder Jeff Kent, but given that the right-hander helped them win the first World Series in franchise history before walking as a free agent, there are few regrets.
It’s a different story with the Loaiza deal, since he didn’t get them over the hump in 2000 and struggled in both 2001 and ’02, while Young blossomed into a force at the plate and a respected clubhouse leader who helped the Rangers to a pair of World Series appearances.
How different is the current century in Blue Jays history if Young had been the cornerstone shortstop?
Another thing to consider — an issue Anthopoulos is weighing as he deliberates over his options — is how various pitchers potentially available via trade will acclimate to the AL East, a division notorious for grinding up men on the mound.
Not everyone can handle it.
“It’s the lineups they throw out there and the ballparks you have to pitch in,” says Detroit Tigers left-hander David Price, who first blossomed into an all-star with the Tampa Bay Rays. “The park I feel like plays the most true and is the most pitcher-friendly ballpark in the East is the Trop. Then every other ballpark — you’ve got Williamsport at Yankee Stadium, Boston gives you Pesky Pole in right and the Monster in left breathing down your neck when you’re standing on the mound, then in Toronto, when the dome is open, there can be some pretty majestic home runs hit there, and Baltimore, that’s a great place to hit. As tough as the lineups are in the East, I feel like it’s sometimes battling the ballparks.”
What can a pitcher do to cope with the division?
“Make pitches,” says Price. “It’s not a fair, or isn’t fair thing, that’s part of it. But at the end of the day it’s going to make you better. Once you can do it in that division, in that league, you can do it anywhere.”
For all those reasons and more, this is a tricky time for Anthopoulos and the Blue Jays. Here’s a list of every July and August deal in franchise history since 1985, when the team clinched its first AL East crown, sorted by the GMs that made them:
- July 7, 1985 – Acquired first baseman Al Oliver from Dodgers for first baseman Len Matuszek
- Aug. 29, 1985 – Acquired first baseman Cliff Johnson from Texas for right-handers Matt Williams, Greg Ferlenda and Jeff Mays
- July 5, 1986 – Acquired right-hander Duane Ward from Atlanta for right-hander Doyle Alexander
- July 6, 1986 – Acquired right-hander Jim Johnson from Atlanta for right-hander Jim Acker
- July 14, 1987 – Acquired outfielder Juan Beniquez from Kansas City for right-hander Luis Aquino
- Aug. 31, 1987 – Acquired left-hander Mike Flanagan from Baltimore for right-handers Oswaldo Peraza and Jose Mesa
- July 31, 1989 – Acquired outfielder Mookie Wilson from Mets for left-hander Jeff Musselman and right-hander Mike Brady
- Aug. 24, 1989 – Acquired right-hander Jim Acker from Atlanta for left-hander Tony Castillo and catcher Francisco Cabrera
- July 27, 1990 – Acquired left-hander John Candelaria from Minnesota for second baseman Nelson Liriano and outfielder Pedro Munoz
- Sept. 17, 1990 – Acquired left-hander Bud Black from Cleveland for right-handers Mauro Gozzo, Alex Sanchez and Steve Cummings
- June 27, 1991 – Acquired right-hander Tom Candiotti and outfielder Turner Ward from Cleveland for outfielders Glenallen Hill and Mark Whiten and left-hander Denis Boucher
- July 14, 1991 – Acquired outfielder Cory Snyder from White Sox for outfielder Shawn Jeter and right-hander Steve Wapnick
- Aug. 9, 1991 – Acquired outfielder Candy Maldonado from Milwaukee for right-hander Rob Wishnevski and second baseman William Suero
- July 30, 1992 – Acquired right-hander Mark Eichhorn from Anaheim for outfielder Rob Ducey and catcher Greg Myers
- Aug. 28, 1992 – Acquired right-hander David Cone from Mets for second baseman Jeff Kent and outfielder Ryan Thompson
- June 11, 1993 – Acquired shortstop Tony Fernandez from Mets for outfielder Darrin Jackson
- July 31, 1993 – Acquired Rickey Henderson from Athletics for right-hander Steve Karsay and outfielder Jose Herrera
- July 28, 1995 – Acquired right-handers Marty Janzen, Jason Jarvis and Mike Gordon from Yankees for David Cone
- July 31, 1997 – Acquired Jose Cruz Jr., from Seattle for right-hander Mike Timlin and left-hander Paul Spoljaric
- Aug. 8, 1997 – Acquired catcher Bobby Cripps from Dodgers for outfielder Otis Nixon
- July 30, 1998 – Acquired right-handers Peter Munro and Jay Yennaco from Boston for DH Mike Stanley
- July 30, 1998 – Acquired right-hander Nerio Rodriguez and outfielder Shannon Carter from Baltimore for right-hander Juan Guzman
- July 31, 1998 – Acquired right-hander Leo Estrella from Mets for utilityman Tony Phillips
- Aug. 6, 1998 – Acquired catcher Brian Loyd from San Diego for left-hander Randy Myers
- June 12, 1999 – Acquired infielder Tony Batista and right-hander John Frascatore from Arizona for left-hander Dan Plesac
- July 28, 1999 – Acquired infielder David Segui from Seattle for right-hander Tom Davey, left-hander Steve Sinclair
- Aug. 8, 1999 – Acquired outfielder Brian McRae from Colorado for PTBNL (right-hander Pat Lynch)
- July 19, 2000 – Acquired Esteban Loaiza from Texas for shortstop Michael Young, right-hander Darwin Cubillan
- July 26, 2000 – Acquired Rob Ducey from Philadelphia for PTBNL (right-hander John Sneed)
- July 31, 2000 – Acquired right-hander Steve Trachsel from Tampa Bay for left-hander Mark Guthrie and infielder Brent Abernathy
- Aug. 4, 2000 – Acquired outfielder Dave Martinez from Texas for PTBNL (right-hander Pete Munro)
- Aug. 6, 2000 – Acquired infielder Mickey Morandini from Philadelphia for PTBNL (outfielder Rob Ducey)
- July 1, 2002 – Acquired left-hander Scott Wiggins from Yankees for outfielder Raul Mondesi
- July 16, 2003 – Acquired outfielder Bobby Kielty from Minnesota for outfielder Shannon Stewart and PTBNL (left-hander David Gassner)
- July 24, 2004 – Acquired infielder John Hattig from Boston for right-hander Terry Adams
- Aug. 6, 2004 – Acquired first baseman Eric Crozier from Cleveland for first baseman Josh Phelps
- July 22, 2005 – Acquired shortstop John McDonald from Detroit for cash considerations
- July 22, 2006 – Acquired right-hander Jeremy Accardo from San Francisco for infielder Shea Hillebrand and right-hander Vinnie Chulk
- Aug. 16, 2006 – Acquired PTBNL (infielder Trevor Lawthorn) from Cincinnati for left-hander Scott Schoeneweis
- Aug. 17, 2006 – Acquired cash from Boston for Eric Hinske
- Aug. 21, 2008 – Acquired infielder Jose Bautista from Pittsburgh for PTBNL (catcher Robinzon Diaz)
- Aug. 30, 2008 – Acquired PTBNL (left-hander Fabio Castro) from Philadelphia for outfielder Matt Stairs
- Aug. 31, 2008 – Acquired right-hander Chad Beck from Arizona for shortstop David Eckstein
- July 31, 2009 – Acquired third baseman Edwin Encarnacion and right-handers Zach Stewart and Josh Roenicke from Cincinnati for third baseman Scott Rolen
- July 14, 2010 – Acquired shortstop Yunel Escobar and left-hander Jo-Jo Reyes from Atlanta for shortstops Alex Gonzalez and Tyler Pastornicky and left-hander Tim Collins
- July 29, 2010 – Acquired outfielder Anthony Gose from Houston for infielder Brett Wallace
- July 27, 2011 – Acquired right-hander Edwin Jackson and utilityman Mark Teahen from the White Sox for right-handers Jason Frasor and Zach Stewart; acquired outfielder Colby Rasmus, left-handers Brian Tallet and Trever Miller and right-hander P.J. Walters from St. Louis for right-handers Edwin Jackson and Octavio Dotel, left-hander Marc Rzepczynski and outfielder Corey Patterson
- Aug. 23, 2011 – Acquired infielder Kelly Johnson from Arizona for second baseman Aaron Hill and infielder John McDonald
- July 20, 2012 – Acquired left-hander J.A. Happ and right-handers Brandon Lyon and David Carpenter from Houston for outfielder Ben Francisco, catcher Carlos Perez, right-handers Francisco Cordero, Asher Wojciechowski, Joe Musgrove and Kevin Comer and left-hander David Rollins
- July 30, 2012 – Acquired right-hander Brad Lincoln from Pittsburgh for outfielder Travis Snider; acquired right-hander Steve Delabar from Seattle for outfielder Eric Thames
- Aug. 14, 2013 – Acquired cash from Kansas City for infielder Emilio Bonifacio
- July 28, 2014 – Acquired infielder Danny Valencia from Kansas City for catcher Erik Kratz, right-hander Liam Hendriks
- Aug. 31, 2014 – Acquired outfielder John Mayberry Jr., from Philadelphia for infielder Gustavo Pierre