But the big move never came to fruition. Instead it was other prominent teams around the American League that made additions. Toronto walked away with only a minor trade, for infielder Danny Valencia, earlier in the week.
"I just think, from an overall perspective of all these teams getting better, we know it's going to be a tough time for us," closer Casey Janssen said. "One that isn't impossible, but we're going to have to do everything right.
"Obviously, we value our prospects, we value our players, I'm sure the other teams do as well. Maybe they just value the player or the opportunity to get into the playoffs more. It takes something to get something, and congratulations to those teams that got those guys."
Thursday's deadline saw a flurry of activity across Major League Baseball. David Price went from Tampa Bay to Detroit, Jon Lester went to Oakland and New York added several pieces, including infielder/outfielder Martin Prado and infielder Stephen Drew after previously making a move for third baseman Chase Headley.
The Blue Jays were never realistically expected to acquire either Price or Lester, but there was hope for at least something. Prado would have plugged a noticeable hole at third base, and reliever Andrew Miller -- traded from the Red Sox to the Orioles -- would have provided some much-needed depth in the bullpen.
General manager Alex Anthopoulos insisted on Thursday that the lack of moves had nothing to do with money, saying the Blue Jays have the ability to add payroll.
"All I'm going to say is that it gets to a point for everybody's situation and everybody's job where trying and excuses are not good enough," slugger Jose Bautista said.
"For everybody's sake I hope we all play great from now until the end of the season. I'm one of those guys that really wants to win, and I've been playing for a long time and never experienced it. It's a little bit of a disappointment for me, but as a player I've got to look past it and just focus on what we've got tonight."
The frustration is understandable considering how long Toronto has been out of the picture in the AL East. Janssen made his debut with the Blue Jays back in 2006 and this was the first time his team was considered a buyer at the deadline.
"We've heard [about] '92, '93, and I think we're tired of hearing it," Janssen said of the club's World Series runs. "We want to put our stamp on Toronto and across baseball. For me, in my eight years here, I've never been this close, never had such an opportunity to make it into the playoffs, and I think that's where this excitement level for this Trade Deadline was.
"It's finally our time, [we're] finally beating down the door, and we wanted to come on the scene as strong as we can. Like I said, it didn't happen, we just have to regroup and go about our business again."