The Blue Jays make measured and sensible moves to improve. But will it be enough?

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – No one is big-game hunting at the trade deadline like AJ Preller and the San Diego Padres.

Consider for a moment the bold ambition it takes to not only zero in on Juan Soto and get him out of the Washington Nationals with one of the richest prospect packages to ever change hands, but to add world closer Josh Hader, Josh Bell and Brandon Drury for good measure.

Simply epic. Bold. Bold. Brave. Maybe even a little reckless. Feel free to dig into your thesaurus for more information. Any, and all, of those adjectives, and more, fit.

The Toronto Blue Jays, in contrast?

The adjective that keeps coming to mind here to describe the number of relievers Anthony Bass and Zach Pop, small forward Mitch White and, in a surprise, utility man Whit Merrifield, is responsible.

Measured and functional, they both work, too, and there’s certainly room for underwhelming and underwhelming when compared to rivals like the New York Yankees, Seattle Mariners, Houston Astros and Minnesota Twins. accomplished.

But this feels like a very Blue Jays-esque deadline: competent pieces to address various needs, items for both the present and the future, a comfortable spend of future value, even if their No. 3s (Jordan Groshans), 13 (Nick Frasso), 14 (Max Castillo) and 23 (Samad Taylor) prospects were traded, based on Baseball America’s mid-season rankings.

Sensitive over sexy. The complete anti-Preller.

“It’s appealing to us to think about adding to our young core in a way that’s sustainable,” general manager Ross Atkins said during a Zoom call Tuesday night before his Blue Jays beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3- 1, later adding that “each of the individuals could be here for long periods of time and we have seen great benefits in that. The continuity of these guys being together and caring for each other and being special is important to us. We’ve seen power in that, so exceptionally excited to be able to align with the acquisitions we’ve made.”

All of that is valid, and there is a dose of risk in the intriguing acquisition of Merrifield, who missed the Kansas City Royals series in Toronto last month because he is unvaccinated and unleashed a firestorm when he said, “That could change in the future. (If) something happens and I join a team that gets a chance to play in Canada and the postseason, maybe that will change.”

Atkins declined to go into detail, saying that since the deal was too new and he had only exchanged jokes with Merrifield, “I’m not going to comment further on that process for him and let him work it out with his family.”

The assumption is that the Blue Jays didn’t send Castillo and Taylor to the Royals on a leap of faith, so it stands to reason that he will in fact take the shot. But timing matters, as arriving travelers must have 14 days before the second dose of an accepted vaccine, or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

So even if Merrifield took J&J on Wednesday, he wouldn’t be eligible to enter Canada before an Aug. 26 homestand that begins with the Los Angeles Angels, though he could play series on the Twins and Orioles. later this week and next. and a road trip August 18-25 to New York and Boston.

The deadline would extend to September if he took a two-dose vaccine and followed the 21-day interval between vaccinations.

Clearly, the Blue Jays are willing to live with the short-term interruption of a player who is also under contract next year and has an $18 million club option in 2024 that will likely be purchased for $500,000 instead.

And the skill package the 33-year-old brings fits the Blue Jays in multiple ways, including the 76 games he has played in his career in center field, adding another layer of depth in case the elbow issues of George Springer require a long-term absence at some point.

“He’s such a good player, first and foremost, very accomplished with incredible experience,” said Atkins, who downplayed concerns about Springer’s elbow about Merrifield. “Versatility, contact ability, speed, playing multiple positions, incredible baserunning, it feels great with him at so many different positions and that versatility will help us down the stretch. Between him and Cavan (Biggio), Raimel (Tapia) and others, we feel like we can really protect and keep the guys, from time to time, out of the game. In case of injury, we are very well covered”.

The principles behind that description also apply to White, Bass, and Pop, providing a collective fortification to the current roster rather than building a new wing for the current base.

White, 27, becomes the Blue Jays’ missing No. 6 starter and won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2027 season, bolstering a starting group that lacks triple-A support depth. He is expected to join the major league club and can also be used to help manage the workload of Alek Manoah, who is likely to set a new career-high innings total Thursday, and the other openers.

The right-hander, with a 3.70 ERA and a 1,250 WHIP in 56 innings over 15 games, including 10 starts, is also expected to contribute from the bullpen, pushing him into a small forward role that Ross Stripling vacated when he replaced Hyun. Jin Ryu. in rotation.

“He certainly has and I think that’s a fair assessment,” Atkins said of White. “You see it more and more in today’s game. It really comes down to the starting ability that’s so appealing, someone who can pitch five or six innings, throw 100 pitches, have the ability to get righties out and lefties out. The arsenal to do that and the athleticism to hang on and the durability are things that are not easy to come by.”

They’re also not elite relievers, and the Blue Jays navigated a tough bullpen market by adding Bass, part of the 2020 Blue Jays bullpen, and Brampton, Ontario native Pop.

While they are believed to have explored deals with the Tigers for some of their controllable arms and examined, to some extent, the out-of-character addition of Raisel Iglesias in the high-end bullpen, who is owed $48 million over the next three seasons and went to Atlanta instead, taking much less risk instead.

Bass, 34, is a different pitcher now than he was in 2020, throwing a slider with a nearly 41 percent blow rate nearly 57 percent of the time, supplemented by his midfield fastball. 90. He’ll slot into a setup spot alongside Yimi Garcia, Adam Cimber and Tim Mayza and add another layer of protection in case something happens to closer Jordan Romano.

That Bass also comes with a $3 million club option only makes him more suitable.

Pop, 25, is under contractual control for another four seasons after this one, and his power-sinking, strike-throwing profile screams in the middle of the game, a reliever coming out of a jam with the potential for more if he can. to improve. he puts together a slider to complement a heater that sits 96.5.

The fact that both, along with a player to be named later, were acquired by Groshans prompted a rival scout to text in disbelief: “Did they really just give up Groshans for those two arms?”

The Blue Jays could have used another dominant relief arm and there were other deals believed to have simply been lost. An industry source said they were “neck-to-neck” with the Yankees over Frankie Montas and Lou Trivino. They had some interest in David Robertson, who went to the Philadelphia Phillies, and they were involved on many other fronts.

But in a market where supply was reduced by the addition of two new wildcards, doing so without dismantling the farm system is nothing.

As Rays general manager Erik Neander put it, “Teams that don’t feel too good about their chances, with that extra wild-card spot, don’t want to take a season for granted either. It looks like you might see some pieces move, but you might see some players on free agent contracts that, if that spot didn’t exist, you might see disappear, and maybe the bar to move them is a little higher. You don’t want to change them just for the sake of changing them. I think that additional place keeps a few more teams, but we will have a better idea in the next few days.

In that environment, the Blue Jays were slow and steady rather than shock and awe. They are better and deeper. If it is enough, it will be developed in the next two months, and if things go according to plan, beyond.

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