Pending the many physicals that must happen prior to the two teams signing off on the trade…we have just witnessed one of the greatest talent hijackings in recent sports memory. Possibly not since the Gasol trade has one organization fleeced another quite so badly. The Miami Marlins have traded SP Josh Johnson, SP Mark Buehrle, SS Jose Reyes, IF/OF Emilio Bonifacio and C John Buck to the Toronto Blue Jays for SS Yunel Escobar, C Jeff Mathis, SP Henderson Alvarez, RP Anthony DeSclafani, SP Justin Nicolino, SS Adeiny Hechavarria and OF Jake Marisnick. If your head hurts trying to put that all into one picture, I understand and below I will break down the trade from a talent and money perspective. Just know one thing if you don’t continue to read on, the Blue Jays just pulled one of the classic Yankee-like talent hijackings by offering up promising young prospects, only roughly half of which, if Miami is lucky, will pan out.
Miami just purged so much payroll you’d think that Ron Paul was in charge of their finance department. Breaking this down from a fiscal viewpoint is easy, Miami does not have the payroll to support their huge signings last off-season because of their terrible year and because they still are not selling out games in their new stadium. The Marlins just dumped $42.95 million in 2013 and MORE than $183.95 million, based on Bonifacio’s arbitration salary, over the life of all the traded contracts. That is an amazing amount of money that Miami just dumped on Toronto while only taking on $7 million in major league contracts. At first glance, Toronto’s GM Alex Anthopoulos looks crazy for taking on that much contract money. It’s not as crazy as it seems though, all of the contracts are staggered in length so they are not on the hook for contracts that all end at the same time. More importantly, Toronto just used Miami as their personal free agent attraction committee. Reyes and Buehrle would NEVER have signed in Toronto, they had no interest in going to the great white north in free agency. Miami refuses to offer no trade clauses in their contracts though, which is why this trade is even possible. Miami didn’t give out any no trade clauses and now a team that has trouble luring free agents was able to trade for this kind of talent.
What do ALL of those names above break down to on a talent perspective for each organization? The Blue Jays just became World Series contenders before winter has even set in and Miami…hasn’t. This is when the trade begins to look like a borderline fire-able offense for Miami Marlins GM Michael Hill. He just traded a franchise altering short stop in Jose Reyes, a potential staff ace in Josh Johnson and one of the most consistent lefty starting pitchers of this generation in Mark Buehrle. He traded ALL of that for a package of 5 young prospects and 2 established MLB veterans. The only possible impact prospects that Miami received are RHP Henderson Alvarez and LHP Justin Nicolino with an outside shot at two others panning out. I won’t try to give the complete scouting report on all of these prospects, you can find fantastic information on them in the links in the beginning of the post, but I will say that there is potential stars in this package, the problem is we’ve seen this before. The Yankees used to do this to lower payroll teams. You send us your established star or stars and we’ll send you a bunch of prospects that will never see the field. Half of these prospects that go in these trades don’t have a chance at working out, even if sports reporters love their potential. It is still only POTENTIAL, the stars that Miami traded didn’t need potential, they already made it to the big leagues and have shown they can stay.
Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has gotten a great haul for his prospects. The Jays upgraded their starting pitching with a potential ace in Josh Johnson and a consistent #2/#3 pitcher in Mark Buehrle. These two pitchers can crank out quality starts, 6 innings pitched and no more than 3 earned runs, with the best of them. Seeing as Toronto was only 22nd in the league in quality starts, and Miami was 9th, we can expect to see a nice increase in quality starts for Toronto. Also, Toronto’s team ERA was 4.64 last year, good for 26th in the league, while the two pitchers they traded for had an ERA almost a full point below their team ERA. This trade greatly increased their potential on the mound in any given game. Finally, for a team that was 8th in the league in steals last year, to add game changing base runners like Jose Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio is amazing. If any team has more steals at the end of next year than Toronto, I will be shocked. Reyes had 40 stolen bases last season and Bonifacio had an amazing 52 in only 62 games played. Toronto will have runners in scoring position at all times for sluggers Jose Bautista and Brett Lawrie.
Marlins GM Michael Hill should have to forfeit his remaining salary and agree to never work in baseball again for this deal. Even if the Marlins owners, Jeffrey Loria and David Samson, were behind this deal, Hill signed off on it and shouldn’t be allowed to lead a team any longer. Alex Anthopoulos has shown, once again, that he may be the best GM in all of baseball right now. He has built a team with amazing potential to compete in the toughest division in all of sports, the AL East. I can’t wait to see the gem that the Toronto front office has built once they get on the field Opening Day 2013.