HOUSTON (AP) — With mere hours until the trade deadline, the Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays have sent a clear message that they’re going for it — making big moves to try and propel their teams into the playoffs for the first time in a long time.
The Astros haven’t reached the postseason since being swept by the White Sox in the 2005 World Series. Toronto’s playoff drought is the longest in the majors, with its last trip coming in 1993, when Joe Carter’s home run won the World Series.
The Blue Jays acquired All-Star left-hander David Price from Detroit on Thursday, a couple days after getting shortstop Troy Tulowitzki from Colorado.
“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 Astros made their own moves before the deadline for making non-waiver trades at 4 p.m. EDT Friday.
They added top left-handed starter Scott Kazmir from Oakland last week and picked up two-time All-Star outfielder Carlos Gomez and right-hander Mike Fiers from the Brewers on Thursday night.
“This was a move with an eye toward this year, next year and the year after that, more so than five or seven years from now,” Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “That’s what our fans want. They want us to win.”
In other trades, the Los Angeles Dodgers, which haven’t won it all since 1988, the year of Kirk Gibson’s pinch homer off Dennis Eckersley, increased their already hefty payroll to $297 million with a three-team deal. It brought them starters Mat Latos from the Marlins and Alex Wood from the Braves as well as relievers Jim Johnson and Luis Avilan from Atlanta.
The Blue Jays are six games back in the American League East and two games out of the second Wild Card.
“By adding these two,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said, “it gives me a shot in the arm. I know that.”
In Price they get a proven veteran and high-level starter to bolster a team with a powerful offense. The first overall pick in 2007 is 9-4 with a 2.53 ERA in 21 starts this season.
“They’ve got a good thing going on right now in Toronto,” Price 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.”
The ahead-of-schedule Astros wrapped up a three-game sweep of the Angels on Thursday night to take a two-game lead in the AL West. The young and energetic team has finally coaxed fans back to the park after several miserable years of losing, including dropping 100-plus games in three straight seasons from 2011-13.
“There is a lot of excitement when you add two players of that caliber for this home stretch,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. “Moves are exciting this time of year. Everybody loves that.”
Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin said a trade fell through Wednesday that would have sent Gomez to the New York Mets for infielder Wilmer Flores and injured pitcher Zack Wheeler.
Luhnow said he had been talking with Melvin for a few weeks and that they resumed talks on Thursday morning. He raved about Gomez.
“He’ll be plugged right in,” Luhnow said. “He’s an All Star-caliber player. This guy is exciting. Everybody here is going to love him once they get to know him. He’s got a lot of energy. … He has all the tools and abilities in the world.”
The 29-year-old Gomez is hitting .262 with eight homers and 43 RBIs in 74 games for the Brewers this season. He is making $8 million this season and $9 million in 2016, then can become a free agent.
Gomez, who won a Gold Glove in 2013, is a nine-year veteran coming off a career-best season last year, when he hit .284 with 34 doubles, 23 homers, 73 RBIs and 34 steals. Gomez and Mike Trout are the only players with at least 100 steals and 50 home runs over the last four seasons.
Gomez played for the Mets and the Twins before joining the Brewers in 2010.
After a whirlwind 24 hours, Gomez was excited to join a new team in the thick of the postseason race.
“They have a lot of talent,” he said.” And they have a great group to play with.”
Fiers is 5-9 with a 3.89 ERA in 21 starts for Milwaukee this season. He has 121 strikeouts in 118 innings this season. He won’t be a free agent until after the 2019 season.