Two years and two days ago, the Toronto Blue Jays did the unthinkable by acquiring Troy Tulowitzki. Then, two days later, the Blue Jays did something even more unthinkable; they landed David Price.
Today marks the two year anniversary of one of the most significant trades in recent memory for the Blue Jays. It’s been two years since the Blue Jays got the marquee name at the trade deadline for their playoff push.
The summer of 2015 was a magical one for the Toronto Blue Jays. If the Tulo trade was a seminal moment for that team, the Price trade was the watershed moment. Getting Price pushed the Blue Jays over the top.
It was one of the biggest “holy shit” moments that I can ever remember. In the span of two days, the Toronto Blue Jays 2015 season went from 60 km/h to about 300 km/h. Coincidentally, the Blue Jays barely let off the gas the rest of the year.
As exciting as the Tulowitzki trade was, it wasn’t met with nearly as much fanfare as the Price deal. People simply could not believe the Blue Jays acquired one of the best starting pitchers in baseball. He was a rental no less, but the best rental money could buy.
I was there on Civic holiday Monday 2015 during David Price’s first start in a Blue Jays uniform. The atmosphere was unlike anything I had experienced at the Rogers Centre. The fans were loud, rabid and they understood Price was there to help them reach the promised land.
Price came exactly as advertised when he arrived to the Blue Jays. In his debut against the Minnesota Twins, Price pitched eight innings of one-run ball en route to striking out 11 batters. During Price’s 11 regular season starts as a Blue Jay, he pitched to a 2.30 ERA and was flat-out dominant.
The acquisition cost for Price was high; the Blue Jays surrendered Daniel Norris, Matt Boyd and Jairo Labourt for the veteran lefty; but at that point, the Blue Jays were teeming with prospects and could afford to part with some to acquire high-level talent.
Ultimately, Price came in and did what he was acquired to do; win ball games for the Blue Jays. His performance in the postseason for the Blue Jays (both the ALDS and ALCS) was a little lackluster, but again, he came in and helped the Blue Jays get to where they hadn’t been in 22 years.
Similar to the Edwin Encarnacion saga, the Blue Jays’ breakup with David Price was a little messy. There were reports Price was willing to stick around in Toronto for less money than what he ultimately signed for in Boston, but evidently, the Blue Jays didn’t feel the same way.
There’s never been any report on record, but there have been whispers the Blue Jays’ front office wasn’t happy with what they saw in Price’s medicals at the end of the 2015 season, which is one of the main factors they didn’t attempt to re-sign Price to a contract extension.
In retrospect, the Blue Jays front office may have been right all along, as it looks like elbow injuries are plaguing Price once again. One wonders whether these latest developments may lead to a larger underlying issue with Price.
This much I know for sure; when the Blue Jays traded for David Price at the 2015 trade deadline, it changed everything. That was the move that caught the Blue Jays on fire; it was the acquisition which legitimized a team full of potential – a team which needed that one extra push.
At first, I remember the Price trade feeling kind of odd; like it was a very “un-Blue Jays” thing to do. Bringing in a player of that magnitude was a move the Yankees or the Red Sox would typically make; not the Toronto Blue Jays.
As surreal as it was a first, Price very quickly settled in as a Blue Jay and he was immediately beloved by the Blue Jays fan base.
Maybe it was his dog – maybe it was the fact that he bought customized bathrobes for the entire team – maybe it was the scooters – but Price seamlessly wove himself into the fabric of the Blue Jays almost instantly. He was lauded as a savior in Toronto
Fast forward to today, and it’s disheartening to see Price treated the way he has been in Boston. Two years into his seven-year deal with the Red Sox, Price is viewed more as a mercenary rather than a core contributor. And Price’s latest spat with Dennis Eckersley seems to have tarnished his reputation in Boston that much further.
Two years after one of the Blue Jays most out-of-nowhere trades, I can’t imagine where this team would be had it not been for the deal for David Price. Yes, he only pitched for the Blue Jays for two months of the 2015 season, but Price was part of the most electric two months of Blue Jays baseball in 22 years.
I don’t lament the loss of David Price after the 2015 season and I don’t begrudge the front office for not bringing him back. Even if Price had a desire to re-sign in Toronto, it’s a two-way street; for whatever reason, Mark Shapiro felt it was best to let Price walk away.
Maybe he would’ve taken less money to stick around in Toronto, but even so, it’s never good business to sign a pitcher through most of his thirties (especially someone like Price who had so many miles on his arm already).
But you can’t tell the storybook tale of the 2015 Blue Jays without mentioning one of its most prominent characters: David Price.