Five Best Blue Jays Offseason Acquisitions of the Last 20 Seasons

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A few franchise-altering deals worked out well when it comes to the Toronto Blue Jays history of acquisitions. One that comes to mind is the trade in December 1990. Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez were sent to the San Diego Padres in exchange for Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter. The transaction would ultimately help the Blue Jays breakthrough and win back-to-back World Series championships. Then, there’s the trade in July 2015 that sent Daniel Norris and Jairo Labourt to the Detroit Tigers for David Price. Price would be a contributing factor to ending the Blue Jays 22-year playoff drought. 

Then, some moves didn’t work out at all. No one wants to remember the Michael Young trade or how the Blue Jays traded away Noah Syndergaard. Not even the B.J. Ryan signing was a fond memory too. Plus, the Roy Halladay deal was one of the worst in franchise history. 

The Blue Jays had some mediocre seasons from the start of the new millennium until 2010. The late 2000s and mid-2010s were some of the team’s best acquisitions in franchise history. These are trades and signings that were made in the offseason, not during the regular season. 

Blue Jays Almost Let A Fan Favorite Get Away 

Blue Jays sign 1B/DH Edwin Encarnación

Date: December 16, 2010

It was a long and winding road that Edwin Encarnacion took to become a star with the Jays. In July 2009, the Blue Jays traded Scott Rolen to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for Encarnación, Josh Roenicke, and Zach Stewart. Encarnación’s early tenure with Toronto saw him struggle to the point where he was demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas before being called up again. After the 2010 season, Encarnación was claimed off waivers by the Oakland A’s. However, on December 2, Oakland non-tendered the Dominican native, making him a free agent. A week later, the Blue Jays brought him back on a one-year, $2.5 million contract. 

By 2012, Encarnación had his coming out party where he hit 42 home runs and 110 RBI that went with a slash line of .280/.384/.557. From there on after, Encarnacion’s strong run in Toronto was capped off with three All-Star appearances. Fans will remember him for two things: his “Edwing” trot around the bases and being the hero in the 2016 AL Wild Card Game.

Russell Martin Comes Home

Blue Jays sign C Russell Martin to a five-year, $84 million deal.

Date: November 14, 2014

It was a shocker when the Blue Jays signed Canadian catcher Russell Martin in 2015. The four-time All-Star inked a five-year, $80 million deal, and Martin’s first season was his finest. Martin hit a career-high 23 home runs with 77 RBI. He was the heart of Toronto’s return to the playoffs, especially with his impact on the pitching staff. Martin threw out an impressive 32 of 72 attempted base-stealers; that’s 44%. The following season, Martin helped the pitching staff anchor a 3.00 ERA, the best in the American League. 

While it wasn’t a happy ending for Martin and his hometown team, the Blue Jays got everything they could out of the former Gold Glove award winner.

The Bringer of Rain Comes To Toronto 

Blue Jays receive 3B Josh Donaldson.

Athletics receive INF Franklin Barreto, RHP Kendall Graveman, 3B Brett Lowrie, LHP Sean Nolin.

Date: November 28, 2014

Another Blue Jays offseason blockbuster from Anthopoulos. Not only does this makeup for the R.A. Dickey trade, but Toronto landed themselves the eventual 2015 AL MVP. Josh Donaldson was considered untouchable by many, but the Oakland A’s let up their guard to acquire future assets. With Donaldson, Toronto scored 127 more runs than any other team in 2015 while snapping a 22-year playoff drought. The Kansas City Royals eliminated Toronto in six games of the ALCS. Donaldson became the second Blue Jay to win MVP honors after he slashed .297/.371/.568 with 41 home runs and 123 RBIs.

Even though Donaldson was a Blue Jay for four seasons, his slide home in Game Three of the 2016 ALDS is one to remember.

Blue Jays Sign A Top International Prospect

Blue Jays sign Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to a seven-year, $22 million contract.

Date:  November 12, 2016

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and his brother Yuli‘s journey to MLB is interesting. Both brothers defected from Cuba at the same time, though Gurriel Jr. is ten years younger. Yuli signed with Houston, while Lourdes, the sixth-best international prospect, signed with the Blue Jays at 23-years old. He would play a season in the minors and debut with the Blue Jays on April 20, 2018.

Gurriel Jr. etched his name in the history books. That June, the Cuban had 11 straight multi-hit games, becoming the first rookie to do so since Shoeless Joe Jackson in 1911. Unfortunately, Gurriel Jr. has been on the injured list multiple times over the course of his two years with Toronto. However, when healthy, Gurriel Jr. can dominate at the plate. On the field, he has a strong defensive side to his game. In 2020, Gurriel Jr. recorded three assists and just one error in 104 fielding chances, which was good enough to be nominated for a Gold Glove award.

Landing A West Coast Ace 

Blue Jays sign Hyun-Jin Ryu to a four-year, $80 million contract.

Date: December 27, 2019

It’s early to say, but the Blue Jays landed a big-name pitcher to their rotation. It goes well with the young squad that needed pitching help. Luckily, Toronto signed an ace from the Los Angeles Dodgers, Hyun-Jin Ryu. The lefty signed a four-year, $80 million deal dazzled in his first season in the AL East. Ryu put a 2.69 ERA while striking out 72 batters in 67 innings pitched. The three-time All-Star finished third in AL Cy Young voting but picked up four second-place votes. Ryu also finished second in Cy Young voting in 2019. 

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