DETROIT — Toronto acquired All-Star left-hander David Price from the Detroit Tigers on Thursday, the second major move in less than a week by the Blue Jays as they chase their first postseason appearance since 1993.
After obtaining slugging shortstop Troy Tulowitzki from Colorado, the Blue Jays tried to shore up their rotation by adding Price, likely the top remaining starting pitcher on the market.
“These types of players, the great superstar players, rarely become available,” Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. “We think we’re a good team and adding a guy like Price we think makes us that much stronger and will give us a chance to win. It’s as simple as that.”
The Blue Jays sent left-handers Daniel Norris, Matt Boyd and Jairo Labourt to the Tigers in the deal. Price can become a free agent after this season.
Later Thursday, Detroit dealt closer Joakim Soria to Pittsburgh for minor league infielder JaCoby Jones.
Speaking in the Detroit clubhouse before the Tigers faced the Orioles in Baltimore, Price was excited about joining a contender — even if he did refer to the Blue Jays as “they” instead of “we.”
“They’ve got a good thing going on right now in Toronto,” he said. “They’ve kind of been in this situation before and didn’t make these type of moves. It definitely shows you that they want to win right now. You have to respect that. You have to like it and that’s what you want to be a part of.”
Toronto has scored more runs than any other team in the major leagues but still had a .500 record heading into Thursday night’s game against the Royals. The Blue Jays trailed Minnesota by two games for the AL’s second wild card and were seven behind the AL East-leading New York Yankees.
Now, however, the Blue Jays appear ripe to make a run.
“By adding these two,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said, “it gives me a shot in the arm. I know that.”
Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson said: “You look around the clubhouse, you’re going to see a lot of All-Stars. It feels like you’re almost playing fantasy baseball.”
Price was traded at the deadline for a second straight year. He went from Tampa Bay to Detroit in a three-team blockbuster last July — one of several bold moves the Tigers have made over the last few seasons while winning four straight AL Central titles.
Although the Tigers were only 3 1/2 games behind a wild-card berth, they were in fourth place in their division entering Thursday’s game at Baltimore. This deal was made with an eye toward the future. Detroit could be a contender again in 2016, but the coming days, weeks and months will probably include plenty of changes.
“When you lose a pitcher like David Price, you don’t generally think you’re getting better,” Ausmus said.
Ausmus could only hope the deal would not have a lasting negative effect in the Detroit clubhouse.
“I’m sure the guys aren’t happy that they’re losing David Price. Who would be?” he said. “It will probably sting for a few days, but (they’ll) get past it.”
Less than three hours later, Soria was packing his bags.
The Blue Jays, meanwhile, are playing to win this year. Toronto hasn’t played in the postseason since Joe Carter’s home run won the 1993 World Series against Philadelphia, the longest postseason drought in the major leagues.
“At this point,” Anthopoulos said, “we’re trying to give ourselves the best opportunity to get in the playoffs.”
Price is 9-4 with a 2.53 ERA this season. The 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner will anchor a Toronto rotation that includes Mark Buehrle and 2012 NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey. The Blue Jays may not need stellar pitching down the stretch with a lineup that includes Tulowitzki, Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion, but Price gives them a true ace — which could come in handy if Toronto does end up in the one-game, wild-card playoff.
The Blue Jays will pay the $7,122,151 remaining on Price’s $19.75 million salary this season.
“I’m going to be a Blue Jay now. That’s just part of the business,” Price said. “We have a very talented group of guys in here and so do the Blue Jays. So I’ll go there and be ready to pitch every five days and be a good teammate during the days in-between.”
Detroit’s rotation has faltered badly after being among the game’s best in 2013 and 2014. The Tigers lost Max Scherzer to free agency last offseason, and Justin Verlander has made only eight starts this year because of injury problems. Anibal Sanchez has struggled a bit, leaving Price as the only consistently effective starter.
The 22-year-old Norris was ranked by Baseball America as the game’s 18th-best prospect earlier this month. He’s gone 3-10 with a 4.27 ERA with Triple-A Buffalo this season.
Boyd, 24, split 2015 between Buffalo and Double-A New Hampshire, going 9-2 with a 1.68 ERA.