TORONTO – It appeared the Toronto Blue Jays needed to add starting pitching to help their playoff push. Instead, they traded for a star shortstop.
Blue Jays General Manager Alex Anthopoulos said acquiring five-time All-Star Troy Tulowitzki from the Colorado Rockies was "the rare chance that one of the best at his position was available."
"We're getting the best shortstop in baseball in our minds," Anthopoulos said.
Toronto also obtained reliever LaTroy Hawkins from the Rockies for four-time All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes and minor league righthanders Miguel Castro, Jeff Hoffman and Jesus Tinoco.
The Blue Jays began Tuesday night at 50-50 and tied for second in the AL East, seven games behind the New York Yankees. They lead baseball with 528 runs but their starters have a 4.38 ERA, third-worst in the AL.
"Getting better doesn't have to mean a reliever or a starter," Anthopoulos said. "When you have a chance to get the best player at a respective position and a guy that also brings some intangibles as well, it's a rare opportunity and we wanted to take advantage of it."
Toronto has not reached the playoffs since winning the 1993 World Series — the longest drought of any major league team.
"We're within striking distance," outfielder Jose Bautista said. "We have a chance to make something special happen this year."
Asked whether Tulowitzki's contributions would be enough to end Toronto's postseason skid without an upgrade to the rotation, Anthopoulos said he couldn't answer until after Friday's nonwaiver trade deadline.
Hawkins took Reyes' spot on the roster for Tuesday's game against Philadelphia.
"It's always good to be in a place where you're in playoff contention," said the 42-year-old, whose major league career began with the Twins in 1995. "We weren't that in Colorado so this is definitely an upgrade."
Tulowitzki had yet to arrive in Toronto and will be added to the roster Wednesday. He is owed about $105 million as part of the $157.75 million he was due from the Rockies over 10 years through 2020.
He had spent his entire 10-year MLB career with Colorado, and he was still struggling with news when Anthopoulos spoke to him at Chicago's Wrigley Field on Monday night.
"I told him we're excited," Anthoupoulos said. "I said, 'I know your head is spinning,' and he said, 'Yeah.' I think he was just in shock."
Blue Jays All-Star third Josh Donaldson said the players will work to help Tulowitzki adjust to a new team in a new country, and a new league.
"It's our job to make him feel comfortable and feel at home," Donaldson said.