SEATTLE-With fewer than 24 hours remaining to Tuesday's trade deadline without waivers, Blue Jays' GM Alex Anthopoulos on Monday night pulled the trigger on two separate deals to bolster the team's two-tiered bullpen with big-armed controllable pitchers.
Within an hour, late in Monday's game at Safeco Field, the Jays first traded outfielder Travis Snider to the Pirates for right-hander Brad Lincoln, then sent minor-league outfielder Eric Thames of the Las Vegas 51s to the M's for another right-hander, Steve Delabar.
Snider was trotting out to left field for the bottom of the seventh inning when he was called back to the dugout and told of the move with the Pirates. He gathered up his glove and his bats and bade an emotional farewell to his teammates working his way back up the line and then to the clubhouse. He was still shaken after the game had ended.
“I hadn't really been called off the field like that before, so I really didn't know what's going on," Snider said. "I thought maybe it was a lineup mistake or something like that. But, you know at this time of the year things are going to happen. I just wanted to get an opportunity to say goodbye to some of those guys. A great group of guys. I'm going to miss them."
Snider is going to the surprising Pirates, a team that is in playoff contention for the first time since 1992. He had spoken to GM Neil Huntington briefly, but just to arrange travel.
“I'm happy to be a part of a contending organization," the 25-year-old native of the Seattle area said. "An opportunity to play in October is what we all dream about. It's tough to say goodbye, but at the same time I'm excited for the opportunity."
Hundreds of miles away, in Las Vegas, Thames was stepping into the batter's box in a game against Salt Lake when he was called back to the dugout. Similar circumstances on his departure, but then again, what did anyone expect. Snider and Thames were linked all spring in a battle for left field, now they end up being traded on the same night. Thames is expected to report to the Mariners major-league clubhouse on Tuesday.
"We're parting ways with a young, talented outfielder in Travis that is still trying to get established on an everyday basis in the big leagues," Jays' manager John Farrell said. "But we feel like we gave up a quality big-league player to get a guy that's starting to come into his own in Lincoln."
The 6-0, 210 lb. native of Lake Jackson, Texas is a former fourth overall pick in the 2006 June draft, chosen 10 picks ahead of Snider in the same selection process. Lincoln was 4-2, with a 2.73 ERA with the Pirates this year, in 28 games -- five starts. In 59 1/3 innings, he allowed 51 hits with 14 walks and 60 strikeouts. His role will be in the Jays' pen.
"That's where he's flourished," Farrell said. "That's where he's seemed to come into his own at the big league level. He's had some eighth inning experience in Pittsburgh. He's pitched some seventh inning. He and (Jason) Grilli have been setting up for (Joel) Hanrahan and he's had a very good year for them."
The second addition to the pen, the 29-year-old Delabar is an interesting human interest story. Drafted by the Padres in the 29th round in '03, he kicked around the minors until '09 when he fractured his right elbow and believed his career was over.
He had a steel plate and nine screws inserted to hold the elbow together and became a substitute teacher in Kentucky and a champion slow pitch softball player in 2010. In 2011, the 6-5, 220 lb. righthander with a fastball, splitter and slider signed as a free agent with the M's organization and worked his way through three levels of the farm to make his major-league debut on September 11, 2011 vs. the Royals.
"Last year, moving through all the levels, you got to meet new guys and form relationships and I'm pretty sure it's going to be the same situation over there," Delabar said from his old M's clubhouse as he prepared to take the short walk to his new team. "Get in, get to learn everybody and the way they work and feed into the same thing they do. "I thanked the (Mariners) for what they let me do and giving me the opportunity to get up here. Emotions right now, I'm really up in the air, I don't know what kind of role I'm going to have or what it's going to be over there. I just know it's going to be out of the bullpen."
The Jays still have an opportunity to make some more noise before the 4 p.m. EDT deadline on Tuesday. On the front burner is a potential deal for Cubs right-hander Matt Garza and then possibly filling the need for an outfielder at the major-league level.