According to Jon Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, The Toronto Blue Jays and Miami Marlins have agreed to a blockbuster multiple player deal that would send starting pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, shortstop Jose Reyes, utility player Emilio Bonifacio, and catcher John Buck to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Reggie Von Bartles
Hot Stove: Jays and Marlins Make Blockbuster Trade
Tuesday November 13th, 2012
In exchange, the Marlins received shortstops Yunel Escobar and Adeiny Hechavarria, starting pitcher Henderson Alvarez, catcher Jeff Mathis, and minor league players Jake Marisnick, Justin Nicolino, and Anthony DeSclafani.
The Marlins are also reportedly sending $4 million in cash to the Blue Jays. The deal is currently being reviewed by Major League Baseball.
For the Marlins and owner Jeffrey Loria, the move comes as no surprise, as the team has a history of making "fire sale" moves during the off-season. However, the talent of players being shipped out to one team comes as a surprise. Before the trade, the Marlins were expected to have a 2013 Opening Day roster with a payroll around $100 million, and are now are expected to have a payroll for the 2013 season around the $20-$25 million range (including arbitration eligible players). The Blue Jays management was rumored to be "itching" to make a trade and it seems general manager Alex Anthopoulos has scratched that itch.
Here is the breakdown of what each team will receive followed up with notes on each player.
Going To Toronto
Josh Johnson - RHP
Josh Johnson is coming off a season in which he posted a 3.40 FIP (Fielder Independent Pitching) with 7.8 K/9 (strikeouts per nine innings) and posted a 3.8 fWAR (Wins Above Replacement). Johnson will turn 29 before the start of the 2013 season and has missed significant time over the past seasons due to shoulder and elbow injuries. He's totaled one season in which he's accumulated more than 200 innings pitched (2009) and has seen his strikeout rate decrease over the past three seasons from 9.1 in '10, 8.4 in '11, and 7.8 in '12, respectively. He's entering the final year of his contract in 2013 and is scheduled to make $13.75 million. The biggest concern for the Blue Jays will be keeping Johnson healthy enough to finish the entire season and pick up 200 innings as the "ace" of the pitching staff. His best pitch is his slider that is set up with a good four-seam fastball and curveball.
Mark Buehrle - LHP
Mark Buehrle, 33, signed a four-year deal with the Marlins before the start of the 2012 season worth approximately $58 million. The veteran left-handed pitcher has averaged 35 starts over the past 12 seasons, while also averaging close to 230 innings a season during the same time period. In 2012, he posted a 2.1 fWAR and a 4.18 FIP in 31 starts for the Marlins. He's not known for his strikeout ability (5.11 career K/9) but he won't walk hitters, allowing just 2.03 BB/9 (walks per nine innings) during his career. He'll likely be the number three or four starter in the rotation for the Jays in 2013. He's expected to make $11 million in 2013.
Jose Reyes - SS
Jose Reyes can be viewed as the centerpiece of the MIA-TOR trade, but with so much talent coming back to Toronto, true value could be lost. Much like the aforementioned Buehrle, Reyes signed a long-term deal with the Marlins prior to the 2012 season worth approximately $106 million over six years. The 29-year-old switch-hitting shortstop posted a 4.5 fWAR with .287/.347/.433 triple-slash line with 40 stolen bases in 160 games last season for Miami. His 160 games played marked the first time since 2008 that Reyes had appeared in more than 150 games. After two disappointing seasons in New York, thanks to injuries, Reyes bounced back to superstar status in his final year with the Mets in 2011, collecting 6.2 fWAR and setting career highs in just about every offensive category. He appears to be over the hamstring and leg injuries that bothered him in 2009 and 2010, so it's likely that he'll produce another productive season from the leadoff spot for the Blue Jays. He's expected to make around $10 million in 2013, $16 million in 2014, before jumping up to $22 million in 2015.
Emilio Bonifacio - INF/OF
Emilio Bonifacio is a speedy utility player that will help the Blue Jays fill a spot at second base and in left field next season. He'll likely bat second in the lineup, behind Reyes and in front of Jose Bautista. Bonifacio, 27, appeared in just 64 games in 2012 after dealing with a thumb injury that required surgery. He's stolen a total of 70 bases over the past two seasons, and has been worth approximately worth 3.9 fWAR over that same time period, with a career year in 2011 (3.3 fWAR). He won't do much to "wow" you at the plate, but he's a speedy player that can steal bases and play multiple positions - not many teams will turn that down. He's eligible for arbitration heading into 2013, but made $2.2 million in 2012.
John Buck - C
Catcher John Buck returns to Toronto after spending the past two seasons in Miami. Buck was a member of the 2010 Blue Jays and earned himself a surprising lucrative deal with the Marlins after hitting a career high 20 home runs in 2010. Although he moved to Miami, his offensive numbers from 2010 didn't follow, as he hit .213/.308/.358 in 246 games for the Marlins from 2011 to 2012. He'll likely be a reserve off the bench, but could split playing time with current catcher J.P. Arencibia. The 23-year-old catcher is in the final year of a three-year deal and is expected to make $6 million.
Going to Miami
Yunel Escobar - SS
After a successful season in 2011 with the Blue Jays (4.2 fWAR) it appeared that Escobar had finally turned a corner and was headed for his true potential level. However, in 2012, Escobar struggled at the plate and hit .253/.300/.344, posting a career worst 1.8 fWAR in 145 games. In addition to the struggles on the field last season, Yunel was also suspended for a stunt he pulled during a game involving a message displayed on his eye-black. Regardless, Escobar finds himself in Miami hoping to turn his production numbers around in 2013. Perhaps his third team in four years will bring the 30-year-old Cuban native better results. He'll make $5 million in 2013 before entering his option years.
Adeiny Hechavarria- INF
Prospect Adeiny Hechavarria appeared in 41 games for the Blue Jays in 2012, hitting .254/.280/.365 over 137 plate appearances. Prior to his call-up, Hechavarria hit .312/.363/.424 at Triple-A Las Vegas in 102 games in 2012. Prior to the trade, Baseball America ranked Hechavarria as the No. 8 overall prospect in the Toronto organization. His defense at shortstop is his biggest skill set and will likely keep him on the major league roster, but his offense will limit his ability to play everyday. With Yunel Escobar growing old on the Toronto front office, Hechavarria would have likely seen an increase in playing time in 2013. He'll start the season with Miami at second base in 2013 and likely bat near the bottom of the lineup.
Henderson Alvarez - RHP
Starting pitcher Henderson Alvarez had high expectations entering the 2012 season, but didn't live up to those expectations. After finishing the season with a 5.18 FIP, 0.5 fWAR, and 3.8 K/9, the 22-year-old righthander finds a new home in Miami. Alvarez throws a sinker (93.7 mph according to Brooks Baseball) 50% of the time with a slider and changeup to balance out his arsenal. One of the main problems for Alvarez is his inability to strike hitters out. His changeup was praised as a "plus" pitch prior to the season, but his inability to generate ground balls and swinging misses allowed the changeup to be put in the air, resulting in home runs. If Alvarez can develop confidence in the changeup as he continues his career, he could be a very serviceable pitcher in the starting rotation. Remember, he's only 22-years old.
Jeff Mathis - C
Veteran Jeff Mathis is a defensive minded catcher who over his career is hitting .198/.256/.314 in 497 big-league games. If anything, he will provide bench depth to 23-year old Rob Brantly. Brantly took over for a slumping John Buck in 2012 and hit .290/.372/.460 in 113 plate appearances for the Marlins.
Jake Marisnick - OF
Jake Marisnick was drafted by the Blue Jays in the third round of the 2009 MLB Draft. In three seasons, while splitting time between Single-A and Double-A, the 21-year-old outfielder hit .278/.351/.436 with a .787 OPS. During his last stop in 2012, Marisnick hit .233/.286/.336 with a 18.6% strikeout percentage in Double-A New Hampshire. Prior to the trade, Baseball America ranked him as the No. 2 overall prospect for the Blue Jays with a MLB estimated time of arrival around the 2014 season. At 6' 4'', he has good defensive range in the outfield with an above average arm. However, according to Baseball America, there are concerns over his hitting ability, as scouts mention him as "having a long swing with a lot of moving parts." He'll likely begin the 2013 season back at the Double-A level.
Justin Nicolino - LHP
Drafted in the second round of the 2010 MLB Draft, lefthander Justin Nicolino produced solid numbers over his first two professional seasons of baseball. In 185 1/3 innings across Single-A baseball, he has a 2.11 FIP with 9.4 K/9 and 1.69 BB/9. He posted a 2.42 FIP and a 52.8% ground ball percentage in 124 1/3 innings with Single-A Lansing in 2012. He had some control issues against right-handed hitters in 2012, allowing 2.05 walks per nine innings. However, he'll be 21-years old when the season opens in 2013 and figures to get a shot at high-Single-A when the seasons open and could end up at Double-A by the of the year. Prior to the trade, Baseball America ranked Nicolino as the No. 5 overall prospect for Toronto entering 2013.
Anthony DeSclafani - RHP
Drafted out of the University of Florida in the sixth round of the 2011 MLB Draft, Anthony DeSclafani spent his first professional season at the low-Single-A level for the Blue Jays in 2012. In 28 appearances, he recorded a 2.70 FIP with a 6.7 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 over 123 innings pitched. According to Nathan Rode of Baseball America, DeSclafani fell just outside the Top 30 overall rankings for the Blue Jays, but has a power-sinking fastball and slider combination as a reliever.
Overall, I think both teams/sides accomplished what they set out to do, with the upper hand obviously going to the Blue Jays simply because of the major league talent that can help win baseball games now. With the acquisition of Johnson and Buehrle to the rotation, the Blue Jays have a very strong pitching staff in a very tough American League East.
The 2013 Opening Day starting rotation could look like this: Josh Johnson, Brandon Morrow, Mark Buehrle, and Ricky Romero.
For the Marlins, ownership and management knew that the team wasn't going to compete, and after a high-priced shopping spree during the 2011 off-season, they seemed reluctant to travel down this path again in order to acquire future wins. The Marlins simply dumped any player on the roster owed significant money in order to turn their attention towards prospects.
Unfortunately, the moves raise questions (understandably) around baseball and the fan base, as the Marlins recently built a new stadium that left Florida citizens with a multi-billion dollar tab, went on a shopping spree frenzy for free-agent baseball players - only to have the team trade away the contracts when the players are still valuable. However, even while the players' contracts still had value, the team wasn't winning baseball games with those players/contracts. It was a huge gain for the Toronto Blue Jays in the end, but it's not as bad as it seems for the Miami Marlins.
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