15 for '15: Toronto's big Deadline spurs revival

Blue Jays' impact moves helped them make it to postseason for first time since 1993

15 for '15: Toronto's big Deadline spurs revival

In what has become a year-end tradition, MLB.com takes a look back at the top storylines of the year -- the Top 15 for 2015.

TORONTO -- They Blue Jays finally put an end to their 22-year postseason drought in 2015, but it never would have been possible if Alex Anthopoulos didn't pull off one of the biggest Trade Deadlines in MLB history.

Toronto was 50-51 and a distant eight games back of the Yankees when Anthopoulos stunned the baseball world by doubling down on his original investment. Instead of trading away assets, the former Blue Jays GM went all in by acquiring some of the biggest names in the game.

The addition of Troy Tulowitzki was surprising enough, but his arrival was only the beginning of the reinforcements. In the coming days, David Price, Ben Revere and Mark Lowe also joined the team. Just like that, Toronto went from afterthoughts to contenders.

"We felt like we had a really good team that had underachieved to that point," Anthopoulos said when asked to reflect at the end of the year. "Our last two months, we were playing really good teams that we were going to chase, so we thought we had a shot. I can't tell you, 'If we didn't play New York as many times, maybe things wouldn't have been the same,' but we felt like that was a lot of games remaining because of who we faced."

Here's a look back at the deals that helped define the Blue Jays' season and cemented Anthopoulos' place in franchise history:

The Tulowitzki deal
The first trade of the memorable week happened on July 28, when Anthopoulos acquired Tulowitzki and right-hander LaTroy Hawkins from the Rockies for Jose Reyes and a package of prospects. At the time, players inside Toronto's clubhouse openly questioned the move as the team needed pitching, not more offense, but little did they know it was only the start of things to come. Tulowitzki struggled with the bat at times, but he solidified the middle of the infield and came through with several clutch hits in the postseason.

Statcast: Tulo clears the bases

"We debated Tulowitzki a lot, not the player, just the acquisition cost, and we knew we wanted to get a starter," Anthopoulos said. "The order wasn't the most exciting: You'd rather get the starter done. I remember afterwards, got off the call and just thought about things, and then finally I think I sent out an email to the group to say, 'Guys, still want to go forward with this deal, and we'll get a starter one way or the other.'"

The Price is Right
A series of fortunate events allowed Price to fall into the Blue Jays' laps just two days later. Price wasn't expected to be available when the Astros and Royals made big moves earlier in the month, but as the Tigers faded in the standings, their general manager felt compelled to make a move. Anthopoulos was on the receiving end of that phone call from Dave Dombrowski, and within a matter of hours, the two had the framework of a deal. It cost the Blue Jays top prospect Daniel Norris, but Price defeated the Yankees three times down the stretch and went 9-1 in 11 starts to lead Toronto into the postseason.

Price's eight strikeouts

"We were going to get a starter ... you just didn't know who it was going to be," Anthopoulos said. "There was a chance Price would be available. You just couldn't time it, and the concern was moving some of the assets in the Tulowitzki deal."

A sigh of relief
Tulowitzki and Price added star appeal to the Blue Jays roster, but teams can never have enough pitching, and Toronto wanted more. With the rotation taken care of, Anthopoulos shifted his attention to the bullpen and acquired Lowe from Seattle at the Trade Deadline for Minor Leaguers Nick Wells, Jacob Brentz and Rob Rasmussen. Lowe, combined with Aaron Sanchez's transition to a reliever, helped turn the bullpen from a weakness into a strength down the stretch.

Lowe's perfect 8th

The missing piece
Just when it looked like Anthopoulos couldn't possibly do any more, he snuck in one last move before the Deadline. Toronto's defense in left field had been an issue all year, and the Blue Jays' GM was determined to do something about it. Anthopoulos acquired Revere from Philadelphia for Minor Leaguers Jimmy Cordero and Alberto Tirado. Revere eventually became Toronto's leadoff man, but more importantly, he put an end to the club experimenting with infielders Chris Colabello and Danny Valencia in the outfield.

"We were looking for a left fielder, but we kept that very quiet," Anthopoulos said. "It was easy to state the obvious that we needed a starter. It's not necessarily good for people to know what you're looking for, to know what you need."

Revere's leadoff double

And just like that -- four deals in four days -- and the Blue Jays were back. The run lasted until the American League Championship Series, where they lost to the eventual World Series champion Royals in six games.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.