With mere hours to go before the first pitch is thrown in the Blue Jays 2013 Opening Day match-up with the Cleveland Indians, their quest for their first playoff appearance since 1993 has been dealt a severe blow.
In a surprise announcement from the commissioners office of Major League Baseball, commissioner Bud Selig has opted to reverse his decision to allow the November 13th trade between the Toronto Blue Jays and Miami Marlins. The mega-trade, agreed to by both squads, had sent shortstop Jose Reyes, pitchers Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson, utility-man Emilio Bonifacio, and catcher John Buck to Toronto in exchange for shortstop Yunel Escobar, starter Henderson Alvarez, infielder Adeiny Hechavarria, catcher Jeff Mathis, minor league pitchers Justin Nicolino and Anthony Desclafani and minor league outfielder Jake Marisnick.
Selig had previously approved the deal, saying, “It is my conclusion that this transaction, involving established major leaguers and highly regarded young players and prospects, represents the exercise of plausible baseball judgment on the part of both clubs, does not violate any express rule of Major League Baseball and does not otherwise warrant the exercise of any of my powers to prevent its completion.”
However, it appears that the commissioner has had second thoughts, perhaps spurred by the continued outrage in South Florida and by the rash of injuries that have hit the Marlins pitching staff this spring.
When reached for comment, Selig’s office released the following statement:
“We originally sought to limit the interference on behalf of the commissioners office in the everyday affairs of the clubs. However, after further consideration, we also could no longer stand by and watch the competitive integrity of the game be impacted by such a heinous attempt by Mr. Loria to put his pocket ahead of the prosperity of his organization.”
That all said, the impact on the Blue Jays is tremendous. The team immediately has to return Reyes, Johnson, Buehrle, and Bonifacio to the Marlins. Furthermore, as John Buck was included in the deal that brought Toronto R.A. Dickey, the Blue Jays must also send catcher Josh Thole to Miami to help defer that loss.
In return, the Blue Jays will regain a replenished farm system, but that offers little solace to a fan base who built up the expectations of a contender in 2013.
The loss of the starting nucleus will severely damage Toronto’s ability to contend in 2013 and changes the team’s outlook for years to come. The pitching depth at the Major League level will be decimated, especially considering that Henderson Alvarez, who would return from Miami, was placed on the disabled list just days ago. The team has already dispatched for Ricky Romero to return from Dunedin to join the team in Toronto.
It also makes the team second-guess its decision to bring in Dickey, who Anthopoulos admits, in an interview with Richard Griffin of The Star, Toronto would not have pursued had he not been the team’s final piece needed to contend.
Of course, with the Blue Jays opening occurring tomorrow evening, April 2nd, the team and its fans can find solace in one fact:
Today is still April 1st, and they will have ample time to recover from this April Fool’s Day joke.