The Toronto Blue Jays bold moves could very well backfire

By Vincent Frank

Just a few days after giving up their third and fifth-best prospects for All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, the Toronto Blue Jays have pulled off another blockbuster trade. The team acquired David Price from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for three prospects, including the organization’s top dog.

Norris was Toronto’s top prospect at the time of the trade. Considered a potential staff ace, the 22-year-old left-handed starter put up a 12-2 record with a 2.53 ERA and 1.12 WHIP across three minor league levels last year. Pitching solely at Triple-A Buffalo before making the jump to the Majors, he struggled a bit more by posting a 3-10 record with a 4.27 ERA this season. Though, Norris will likely find himself inserted into the Tigers’ rotation immediately.

Also headed to Detroit in this blockbuster deal is 24-year-old starter Matt Boyd, who was among Toronto’s top-11 prospects. He had put up a 9-2 record with a 1.68 ERA and 0.84 WHIP in 18 starts between Double-A and Triple-A prior to the deal. Seen by some as a middle of the rotation arm, Boyd could also join Detroit’s big-league squad in short order.

In a vacuum, everyone knows you have to part with potential game changers at the minor league level to add someone of Price’s ilk. He’s an ace starter and one of the top pitchers in baseball. This year alone, the former Cy Young winner has put up a 9-4 record with a tremendous 2.53 ERA and 1.11 WHIP. He also boasts a ridiculous 4.76-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Considering the plethora of run support he will get in Toronto, it’s safe to say Price will help the team big time down the stretch.

But we can’t look at the deal solely based on the talent Toronto added. The team entered Thursday with a .500 record and is seven games behind the New York Yankees in the American League East. Heck, it’s currently seventh in the AL wild card race.

And that’s precisely the point here. Toronto may very well earn a wild card spot and would likely have Price taking to the bump in the one-game playoff. It’s not a bad problem to have, but as we saw with the Oakland Athletics and Jon Lester against the Kansas City Royals last October, it doesn’t guarantee a win. In fact, anything can happen in a single baseball game. In this new playoff format, the best team and the best pitcher doesn’t necessarily come out on top.

None of this would really be a big deal if Price were under contract for next season. Instead, he’s nothing more than a rental for a team that’s looking to earn its first playoff appearance since 1993. And while some will tell you that Toronto might look to retain Price, that’s a long shot. It will have to compete with the likes of the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels, among other teams, for Price’s services on the open market. It will be doing so while being placed behind the proverbial eight-ball due to Canada’s tax system. In reality, there’s a minimal chance that Price will be on the Blue Jays opening day roster next April.

By going all in here, Toronto has made it clear that its ultimate goal is winning the World Series. While attainable, that’s not necessarily a likely scenario. More than that, the team has moved three of its top-five prospects over the past week. If it doesn’t win the title and Price walks, this will be seen as a major fail for an organization desperate to become relevant again.

Photo: USA Today Sports