Some new information came out about the big Blue Jays trade with the Marlins in 2012, and it sounds like Alex Anthopoulos got away with what could have been an even bigger disaster.
It’s a lot more fun when our beloved Blue Jays are being aggressive during the off-season, as we’ve all seen with the signing and introduction of Hyun-Jin Ryu recently. However, being aggressive doesn’t always work out for the best, which is why many front offices play things pretty safe a lot of the time.
That wasn’t the strategy employed by Alex Anthopoulos all that often, and especially not the case during the off-season of 2012. In fact, some new details emerged on Friday thanks to a podcast from former Marlins’ General Manager, David Sampson. The details of that podcast were also very well captured by the Daily Hive’s Ian Hunter, and it’s definitely worth checking out the full story.
The final details of the trade were the Blue Jays getting: Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio, and John Buck. In exchange the Marlins would receive: Yunel Escobar, Adeiny Hechavarria, Henderson Alvarez, Jeff Mathis, Justin Nicolino, Anthony Desclafani and Jake Marisnick. A 12-player deal is about as complicated as it gets, but somehow they got it done.
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There are several juicy nuggets to chew on, but one of the most significant that stood out to me was that things could have gone worse for the Blue Jays if not for an error on the part of the Marlins. According to Sampson, Anthopoulos gave the Marlins their choice of the high-end pitching prospect, and they went with Nicolino over both Noah Syndergaard (who was eventually traded to the Mets), and Aaron Sanchez.
Despite the fact that the Marlins trade turned out far worse for the Blue Jays, most fans would say that the deal that sent Syndergaard to the Mets for R.A. Dickey was the greater blow to the franchise, even though Dickey earned 7.2 bWAR over his four years in Toronto. Can you imagine if the Blue Jays had sent Syndergaard to Miami, only to get the return on their investment that came in that trade?
To be fair, at the time of the trade all three of Syndergaard, Sanchez, and Nicolino were highly regarded, often being referred to as the “Lansing Three”. Syndergaard has obviously gone on to have the most MLB success of the trio, and Nicolino’s career just never took off the way many thought it would. He last pitched in the big leagues in 2017, and made a total of 50 appearances over three years (33 starts) before falling out of the league. He’s still trying to work his way back to the highest level, pitching in AAA with the Twins and White Sox organizations in 2019, but unfortunately posted a 6.12 ERA over 135.1 innings, and doesn’t look close to accomplishing the goal.
We don’t always get the inside information on a big trade negotiation, and it took over seven years for the story to come out, but it’s definitely interesting to hear that tidbit of information. For all of the criticism that the Dickey-Syndergaard trade has faced over the years, I shudder to think of an alternative universe that sent “Thor” to the Marlins in that trade as well. As Garth Brooks once said, “some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers”.