How Blue Jays' 2022 chances were impacted by AL rivals' deadline deals

The Blue Jays Central panel break down all of the Toronto Blue Jays' trade deadline acquisitions and discuss if they did enough to address the team's shortcomings.

TORONTO – The hype surrounds Juan Soto, as it should. Any time a 23-year-old Hall of Famer in the making gets traded, that deal deserves all the attention it gets.

But viewed from the Toronto Blue Jays’ perspective, the more significant shifts ahead of Tuesday’s trade deadline occurred within the American League. On a day most (but not all) AL contenders were busy, the Blue Jays completed four trades, at least two of which could be considered surprises.

Their day unfolded like this:

•Acquired relievers Anthony Bass and Zach Pop with a player to be named later from the Marlins for prospect Jordan Groshans.

• Acquired pitcher Mitch White and infielder Alex De Jesus from the Dodgers for pitching prospects Nick Frasso and Moises Brito.

• Acquired utility player Whit Merrifield for prospects Samad Taylor and Max Castillo.

• Traded Jeremy Beasley to the Pirates for cash.

“We’re so excited about this team and the acquisitions,” GM Ross Atkins said afterwards. “The present value and future value of each of these (trades) is really exciting.”

Of course that’s just one part of the picture. Across the league, some of the Blue Jays' rivals improved meaningfully while others started trading impact players away. Here’s how things shifted ahead of the 2022 trade deadline and what it means for the Blue Jays as they push for the playoffs…

Actually, let's sell

Baltimore Orioles

Additions: Outfielder Brett Phillips, prospects Seth Johnson, Chayce McDermott, Cade Povich, Yennier Cano, Juan Nunez and Juan Rojas.
Subtractions: First baseman Trey Mancini, reliever Jorge Lopez.

The Orioles began deadline day 2.5 games out of the third wild card spot, but their playoff odds sat at just 2.4 per cent, according to FanGraphs. GM Mike Elias decided to sell.

"Ultimately, I have to tether my decisions to the outlook and the probabilities of this year,” Elias told reporters Monday. “We have a shot at a wild card right now but it is not a probability that we're going to win a wild card."

Rationally, this wasn’t going to be the year the Orioles win it all, so if some of the prospects acquired become legitimate long-term contributors, it will have been worth it. In the meantime? Yeah, those comments won’t play well in the clubhouse.

Significance for Blue Jays: This is good for the Blue Jays, who will face this weakened Orioles team 15 more times.

Quiet in the Central

Cleveland Guardians

Additions: Reliever Ian Hamilton
Subtractions: Catcher Sandy Leon

If you thought that the Guardians would be motivated to make meaningful moves in the hopes of closing the 1.0-game gap separating them from the AL Central-leading Twins, you'd have been wrong. For Cleveland to return to the post-season, they’ll need their existing roster to step up.

Significance for Blue Jays: At this point, it’s hard to see the Guardians pushing the Blue Jays for the top wild-card spot.

Chicago White Sox

Additions: Reliever Jake Diekman
Subtractions: Catcher Reese McGuire

Maybe Diekman will push the White Sox over the top. Or maybe this simply isn’t their year and they’re acknowledging as much by standing pat.

Significance for Blue Jays: Like the Guardians, they seem unlikely to pass the Blue Jays.

Threading the needle

Boston Red Sox

Additions: Outfielder Tommy Pham, catcher Reese McGuire, first baseman Eric Hosmer, prospects Enmanuel Valdez, Wilyer Abreu, Corey Rosier and Max Ferguson.
Subtractions: A player to be named later or cash considerations, reliever Jake Diekman, catcher Christian Vazquez, prospect Jay Groome.

This new version of the Red Sox is… different. Trading Vazquez wasn’t easy for Boston, but they didn’t stop there, adding Pham, Hosmer, McGuire and even some prospects in a flurry of trades. Whether all that activity leads to better results in 2022 is an open question, but the Red Sox did add some long-term intrigue in case this year ends without a playoff berth.

Significance for Blue Jays: Hard to tell, but it doesn’t seem bad for Toronto.

Legit Buyers

Tampa Bay Rays

Additions: Outfielders David Peralta and Jose Siri, reliever Garrett Cleavinger.
Subtractions: Outfielder Brett Phillips, prospects Christian Cerda, Jayden Murray, Seth Johnson and German Tapia

This wasn’t the splashiest deadline haul, but the Rays did spend prospects to upgrade their roster. With Peralta and Siri, they’re a better team now than they were a week ago

Significance for Blue Jays: Slight negative.

Minnesota Twins

Additions: Relievers Jorge Lopez and Michael Fulmer, starter Tyler Mahle, catcher Sandy Leon
Subtractions: Reliever Ian Hamilton, prospects Cade Povich, Yennier Cano, Juan Nunez, Juan Rojas, Spencer Steer, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Steven Hajjar and Sawyer Gipson-Long

The Twins needed pitching and they got it. They gained meaningfully on their division rivals Tuesday and now look like the Central’s best team.

Significance for Blue Jays: The Twins will now be tougher to beat if the Blue Jays face them in October.

Seattle Mariners

Additions: Starters Luis Castillo and Matthew Boyd, catcher Curt Casali, utility player Jake Lamb
Subtractions: Prospects Noelvi Marte, Edwin Arroyo, Levi Stoudt, Andrew Moore, Michael Stryffeler and Andy Thomas

This deadline was all about Castillo, one of the best pitchers available. Along with Robbie Ray and Logan Gilbert, Castillo gives Seattle a strong front three for the playoffs.

Significance for Blue Jays: This isn’t good. The Mariners now look like a bigger threat to unseat the Blue Jays atop the wild card standings and force the Blue Jays to hit the road for the first round. That’d be especially significant if the Blue Jays play the Mariners because A) that’s a long flight and B) Ray didn’t appear in Canada, but he can pitch in Seattle.

Pushing for the bye

New York Yankees

Additions: Starter Frankie Montas, relievers Lou Trivino and Scott Effross, outfielders Andrew Benintendi and Harrison Bader, prospect Clayton Beeter
Subtractions: Pitchers Jordan Montgomery and JP Sears, outfielder Joey Gallo, prospects Ken Waldichuk, Luis Medina, Cooper Bowman, Hayden Wesneski, Beck Way, T.J. Sikkema and Chandler Champlain

The Yankees were an elite team already. They could likely have won the AL East without a single addition. But by loading up at the deadline, GM Brian Cashman increased his team’s chances of reaching the World Series for the first time since 2009.

Granted, there are questions about all these players. Benintendi's not yet vaccinated, Trivino's fastball has been getting hammered this year (.342 average allowed, .684 slugging percentage) and Montas recently missed time due to shoulder soreness.

Still, the Yankees improved their roster meaningfully, dealing away eight prospects in the process.

Significance for Blue Jays: The AL East continues to seem out of reach and the Yankees now look like an even tougher playoff foe. Not good.

Houston Astros

Additions: Catcher Christian Vazquez, reliever Will Smith, first baseman Trey Mancini, prospect Jayden Murray
Subtractions: Prospects Enmanuel Valdez, Wilyer Abreu and Chayce McDermott, starter Jake Odorizzi, outfielder Jose Siri

Like the Yankees, the Astros have a 12.0 game lead in their division that could have allowed them to coast. But like Cashman, Houston GM James Click added substantially in anticipation of a deep playoff run.

By acquiring Vazquez, Smith and Mancini the Astros remain the biggest threat to the Yankees in the American League.

Significance for Blue Jays: This isn’t necessarily disastrous for the Blue Jays, but it’s never good when the top teams in your league get stronger.

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