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|TORONTO BLUE JAYS
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Reportedly will acquire RHP Josh Johnson, SS-S Jose Reyes, LHP Mark Buehrle, C-R John Buck, UTL-S Emilio Bonifacio and $4 million from the Marlins for SS-R Yunel Escobar, SS-R Adeiny Hechavarria, RHP Henderson Alvarez, C-R Jeff Mathis, LHP Justin Nicolino, and OF-R Jake Marisnick. [11/13]
In a single swoop, Alex Anthopoulos netted two new members of the rotation, a leadoff-hitting shortstop, a utility player, and another catcher without sparing his top hitting or pitching prospect. Toronto now has the look of a serious contender.
Johnson, the headliner of the trade, ends Toronto’s post-Halladay quest to find an ace-caliber starter. He pitches off a low-to-mid-90s fastball and uses a hard slider to end at-bats. Durability is a concern; Johnson has just one 200-plus-inning season under his belt. The 28-year-old Minnesotan also suffered through his worst big-league season last year. His strikeout rate declined and his walk rate increased—albeit in large part due to a career-high seven intentional walks. Johnson is a free agent at season’s end; given the other goodies involved in the package, it’s impossible to discern whether the Jays intend to re-sign him.
Toronto reportedly considered pursuing Reyes last offseason before ultimately ducking out of the bidding. The shortstop is heading north one season into a six-year deal worth $106 million. As exciting of a player as there is in the majors, Reyes uses impressive speed and bat-to-ball skills to provide offensive value. He’s made to hit near the top of the order and should become Toronto’s everyday leadoff hitter. Reyes has five years and $96 million remaining on his contract. A club option for the 2018 season, worth $22 million, could push the total amount remaining to $114 million if exercised.
Buehrle is the archetypal soft-tossing southpaw who survives with guts and guile. He gets by with mediocre strikeout rates by avoiding free passes and displaying a knack for generating double-play balls. The four-time Gold Glove winner has seen his ERA continuously outperform his peripherals as a result. How Buehrle’s approach will translate to the American League East is a question worth asking. Toronto will have the next three years (at the cost of $48 million) to learn the answer.
After a strong 2011 campaign, Bonifacio appeared ready to take a step forward. Instead he went backward and missed most of the season due to injury. When Bonifacio did play, he performed like his old self. His defensive flexibility is useful, as he can play all over—including second base and center field, where he spent his time last season. At the plate, Bonifacio walks a fair bit, but he also has more swing-and-miss in his game than you’d anticipate from a player his size with his power production. He’s an excellent basestealer, and he should provide a spark off the bench if used well.
Buck is included to serve as salary ballast. The Jays are sending Mathis to the Marlins and have Travis d’Arnaud hanging around the minors. In a sense, Buck is a lot like J.P. Arencibia. He needs to slug to provide positive value. Otherwise, he’s a mundane backstop.—R.J. Anderson
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Reportedly will acquire SS-R Yunel Escobar, SS-R Adeiny Hechavarria, RHP Henderson Alvarez, C-R Jeff Mathis, LHP Justin Nicolino, and OF-R Jake Marisnick from the Blue Jays for RHP Josh Johnson, SS-S Jose Reyes, LHP Mark Buehrle, C-R John Buck, UTL-S Emilio Bonifacio, and $4 million. [11/13]
Well, you’ll never be able to say that Jeffrey Loria and the Miami Marlins didn’t give it the old college try, for at least half a season. Loria and his entourage were the talk of the town (or the Hilton Anatole Hotel) at last year’s Winter Meetings when they threw their money around like an exquisitely mustachioed, monocle-clad oil tycoon, signing Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Heath Bell while also trying to lure Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson, and Prince Fielder.
They say money doesn’t buy championships, but it certainly helps, and Miami was willing to give it a shot, opening 2012 with a payroll 76 percent greater than the one with which they opened 2011. However, the team wasn’t able to bring in the biggest gun (Pujols) and didn’t spend its money efficiently ($27 million for a closer on the decline?). Throw in the lack of sufficient supporting pieces to go around their fresh talent and incumbent stars Giancarlo Stanton, Hanley Ramirez, and Johnson, and Miami wound up dropping 93 games and engaging in some very early spring cleaning. Following this deal and their trade with Arizona last month, none of their big signings from last offseason remains. They’ve now cleared $48 million from the 2013 books (plus let close to $10 million more expire) and $175 million total.
Aside from the $11.5 million they owe Ricky Nolasco this year (the Marlins must have totally spaced and forgotten to stick Toronto with him, too) and the $5 million Escobar will cost them, the team’s most expensive non-arbitration player is Greg Dobbs at $1.5 million. With the experiment a failure, at least Miami had the nerve (if you want to call it that) to admit they were wrong, tear it down, and start over (and they even got some decent prospects out of it). Heck, that might have even been the plan all along given the back-loading on their now infamous Winter Meetings deals. —Derek Carty
Escobar is the most experienced big-league player in the Marlins’ return, but he comes with plenty of warts. Concerns about his maturity have prevailed since his days with the Braves, and climaxed with last season’s eye black message controversy. Teams put up with the headaches because Escobar is a solid player. He’s shown ability to hit for solid averages while posting decent-to-good on-base percentages. Defensively, Escobar has overcome questions revolving around his speed and range. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Marlins move Escobar at some point before the end of next season given his track record and team-friendly contract (he has one year, $5 million remaining guaranteed with two club options worth $10 million total). Until then, he figures to man a middle infield spot.
Miami acquired Gorkys Hernandez at the trade deadline and may have acquired his infield doppelganger in Hechavarria. The Cuban product is a plus-plus defender with the arm and actions to stick at shortstop. If Hechavarria’s bat were good enough to merit batting eighth or ninth in the lineup, he would be a surefire starter. As is, his offensive production is so poor that starting him is hard to fathom despite the stellar defense. If the Marlins start him in the big leagues next season, don’t be surprised if he posts the worst walk-to-strikeout ratio on the team, and maybe in the National League.
Alvarez is the baby of the big-league bunch at 22 1/2 years old. An inability to miss bats despite a mid-90s fastball has plagued him over his 41 big-league starts, and the results rarely matched the stuff in the minors. To Alvarez’s credit, he has generated a good groundball rate. Escaping the AL East should help his numbers. The Marlins probably have a tweak or two in mind as well. If their tinkering works, Alvarez may develop into a middle-of-the-rotation starter, but even back-of-the-rotation status would be an improvement.—R.J. Anderson
Justin Nicolino, the second-round pick in the 2010 draft, brings a combination of projection and polish from the left side. At present, the soon-to-be 21-year-old southpaw will work his fastball in the upper-80s to low-90s, showing good arm-side movement on the pitch. His best offering is a beautiful changeup that wears the fastball disguise until it’s too late for hitters to adjust, resulting in weak contact and missed bats to both lefties and righties. His curveball is his third offering, but has good shape and depth and projects to be another above-average pitch at maturity. The entire arsenal plays up because of his pitchability and overall feel for sequence and game situation, so even if the fastball doesn’t see a velocity spike during the developmental process, Nicolino can still profile as a middle-of-the-rotation starter. If the arsenal ticks up without sacrificing his feel for command, the sky is the limit. After a very strong Low-A campaign in 2012, Nicolino has the type of poise and polish to reach the Double-A level at some point in the 2013 season.
It wasn’t that long ago that the Jays gave slick-fielding Cuban shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria a $4M signing bonus and guaranteed $10M in a four-year major-league contract, but the bat didn’t develop as planned and Hechavarria spent the better part of his three seasons in the minors. His worth is tied to his flash at a premium position, and that flash is substantial. Hechavarria has very slick actions at the position, with some scouts putting a 7 on his glove to match the 7 already on his arm and his legs. The bat would be the topping on his defensive dessert, but it’s been slow to find its form, raking in the offense-friendly environment of the Jays’ Triple-A affiliate but falling short in his 41-game major-league sample. The hands work well, but the pitch recognition skills and the approach put him in a hole, and without much juice, the stick is pretty empty. With some contact ability and speed, he might be able to produce enough to keep his glove on the field. But the approach will need refinement if he is to have a chance as a major-league regular. He has his backers who insist the bat has enough room to develop into something that plays. Others aren’t so optimistic.—Jason Parks
Jake Marisnick has an up-the-middle profile with potential plus defense in center field. He’s a lean athlete who glides to the ball with long, majestic strides. He can cover a ton of ground to both sides and has the plus arm strength necessary to make throws from the deepest parts of the park. For all his defensive abilities, Marisnick remains raw at the plate. He lacks pitch recognition skills, will swing wildly at breaking balls out of the strike zone, and is consistently out front on even mediocre change-ups.
Marisnick hits better with two strikes, choking up on the bat, employing a shorter stroke, and using the whole field. He has the leveraged swing and natural strength to earn plus grades for his raw power, but that power has yet to manifest in games. Optimistic views envision a five-tool center fielder who contributes at an above-average level in all phases of the game. The pessimist’s view can see the hitting ability unraveling the whole package, leaving him short of such a lofty projection. Regardless of the frame of reference, he will need all of 2013 in the minor leagues to refine his offensive game, but he could make an impact in the big leagues in 2014.—Mark Anderson
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Johnson, Reyes, Buehrle, Buck, and Bonifacio for Escobar and the prospects mentioned above?
Hunter Pence for Singleton, Cosart, Santana, and Zeid?
Anybody else here feel like the Marlins should have gotten more in return? Early rumors had them getting Arencibia, but they wind up with...Jeff Mathis. Honestly...
As an aside, I'm a little tired of my AL Scoresheet Keeper rookies getting traded to the NL now that Marisnick's joined the fray... and he's the type the Marlins will promote before he's ready to whiff away at breaking balls.
But, for some laughs, there are some gems in ESPN's reactions to the trade. http://espn.go.com/mlb/hotstove12/story/_/id/8629232/twitter-reaction-blue-jays-marlins-blockbuster-mlb
"Hey Lakers. That's not how you alienate a fan base. THIS is how you alienate a fan base - love, the Marlins" - Matthew Berry
And oh yeah, Loria is an awful owner. He needs to go.
Their owner, Roger Communications, is a media giant in Canada. The Jays are one the major items on their sports channel, which is equivalent to ESPN in the USA. Unlike markets like Boston, NY and LA, the Toronto media market actually extends across Canada and encompasses 30 million households, which makes it one of the largest potential sports viewship markets in the world. Say what you want about YES or NESN but neither one is reaching a market of 30 million people.
If the Jays got serious, they are potentially one of the richest teams in baseball. They already have the richest owner in terms of worth. They have the media as described above. Toronto is a market of 6 million with most people in the city being among the most affluent in Canada. In reality, only the Yankees and the Dodgers could potentially generate more revenue. The Jays could certainly outspend Boston and the two Chicago teams.
Rogers needed a splash for their network to rekindle interest. They did so today. They may still go and grab an elite free agent. They still have a stacked farm system. They have just announced their intention to become one of the big boys like they were in past.
or was it strictly public money ?
Please do not interpret my comment to mean that I actually think the manager is important.
If d'Arnaud becomes the AL version of Buster Posey it gets exciting. The Jays made solid trades to shore up their staff full of power arms in the last couple of years .... This will be the fastest team in Baseball but with the capability to hit 150 Home Runs.
The Stars are aligning.... good trade for both sides - it makes no sense for Miami to pay major leaguers millions to play on a quadruple A team - and they add a couple of future pieces.
Instead they opt for "salary relief", which seems like a wasted opportunity. Johnson and Reyes have health issues of course, but they're both among the best in MLB when they play and they're both in their primes. I just think you *have* to turn that into an elite prospect or two.
And that's before considering that it's the Marlins and they're less likely to sign top free agents than I am. Or maybe Loria got word that the SEC's going to come down hard and he's saving up for some lawyers.....
The other thing that's missing is the money. Not having to pay the best part of $200 million in potentially overvalued contracts is crucial. Buehrle will not live up to that contract - yes, there's value in 200 slightly below average innings a year, but not close to $18-20 million a year. Reyes is not cheap, and will probably be hanging on by the end of the deal. They only get Johnson (who is made of glass) for a year. Bonifacio has his uses, but he's hardly an elite player. All of that doesn't add up to lots of elite prospects.
Anyways, I get that a big part of the value the Marlins got was sending Buehrle and Buck and the last few years of Reyes' contract away. I just believe quite strongly that if they're really serious about "rebuilding" they should have kept the bad contracts, maybe even sent some money with Reyes, and gotten d'Arnaud included. Or elite talent from another team.
But that's, ahem, not Loria's top priority.
Lots of risk for the Jays in terms of health and assumption of salary, but realistically, they didn't give up too much. They still have their core MLB guys in place and their top prospects remain intact.
Most owners want to win. Making a profit is important, but they'll put up with some losses to get that ring. Loria has shown he's not really that kind of guy.
Fixed that for you.
The problem is, how can the Commissioner approve the trade but then force out one of the participants in that trade? Wee bit of a conundrum that.
It turned out that in my section (upper deck, 15 rows up, directly behind home plate) there was almost no one within 10 rows of me at just about every game after April. Beyond being a team that became increasingly joyless to watch as the season progressed, the team's promotional items and postgame concerts were a joke. And now it turns out that the commitment to being competitive was also a lie. Even when they traded Cabrera, at least Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller were (wrongly) projected as potential stars - I just don't see that here, short- or long-term. This is potentially a 110-loss team. I'll go to five or six games, buying deeply discounted tickets off Stubhub.
Enjoy Stanton in 2013 Marlin fan - he could be gone before he gets paid. I can already see the 2014 Marlins with a total payroll of $12.5 million.
Remember when Bowie Kuhn vetoed the selling off of A's players back in the 70's under the best interests of baseball clause? (I am not a fan of Kuhn, BTW). Beelzebud? You're kidding, right?
I am really glad Loria wasn't serious about moving here to San Antonio.
What the Marlins need to do, however, is put that money into player development. I talked to a pitcher breaking through in another organization who came through the Marlins' system. They gave him almost no instruction or guidance at all compared to his new club.
Marlins: "Like everyone else, I'm not a very big fan of Jeffrey Loria, but I have a hard time, strictly from a baseball standpoint, having a problem with tearing apart a 93-loss team. I don't think they were going to be any better next season, so why not try something different?
It's an absolute travesty - corporate welfare at it's worst.