Any critics of Alex Anthopoulos and his lackluster winter affairs can quietly back down now. In what may very well be the biggest trade of the 2012 offseason, the Toronto Blue Jays trade Yunel Escobar, Adeiny Hechavarria, Jeff Mathis, Henderson Alvarez, Jake Marisnick, Anthony DeSclafani and Justin Nicolino to the Miami Marlins in exchange for Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, John Buck, Emilio Bonifacio and $4M in cash, pending league approval. In terms of raw dollars in contractual obligations, Toronto will be on the hook for around $43M in 2013 payroll and $163.75M in obligations over several players’ years going forward and 2 years of Bonifacio control, while Miami will receive $10.25M in 2013 contract obligations with 2 optional $5M years for Yunel, 2 years plus an option year for Mathis, 5 more years (with 2 years of league minimum) of Henderson Alvarez control, 6 more years of Hechavarria control, and full control over prospects Marisnick, Nicolino and DeSclafani.
What does this mean for the state of the Toronto Blue Jays franchise? It means that they no longer have a need to improve their starting rotation, which looks to be a tantalizing five consisting of JJ/Morrow/Buehrle/Happ/Romero, not necessarily in that order. Toronto also reacquires John Buck, who is familiar with all possible starters with the exception of J.A. Happ. With so many catchers in the Blue Jays system, it may very well be possible that Alex Anthopoulos will make another trade in the near future, but that is complete speculation at this point. Reyes might finally prove to be Toronto’s first true leadoff bat with a player known for his speed and on base abilities. Finally, Bonifacio will provide options on both the Jays infield and outfield, spending time at most positions with the exception of first base, catcher and pitcher. There are some injury concerns with Johnson, Bonifacio and Reyes however, but the Blue Jays do have young options in prospects and currently injured players that could return and fill in the roster. The Blue Jays have really acquired depth in this trade.
In contrast Miami completes what is commonly known as a “Marlins fire sale”, which tradition states they get rid of all their big contracts in return for young hopefuls who look to be pushed to the Majors sooner rather than later. Their relatively cheap pickups that are already major leaguers include their possible future infield in Escobar and Hechavarria, which they will be able to maintain for many years to come. In addition, they will add outfield and pitching depth with prospects Marisnick and Nicolino, respectively. Finally, they get a reliable cheap catching option in Mathis, who can perform well in limited play time.
Most importantly, Toronto will retain the biggest farm system prospects in Travis d’Arnaud, Aaron Sanchez, Noah Syndergaard and Robert Osuna, among others. The Blue Jays, in one move, went from question mark to possible contender in the 2013 season, spending a lot of money that Rogers has made available. While there are still questions left concerning 1B/DH roles and getting a solid left fielder, the team looks a lot stronger than they did before completing the trade. And with such a bold transaction, expect potential mangers to come flooding out of the woodwork.
It is an exciting time to be a Blue Jays fan once again.