The Blue Jays-Marlins Blockbuster Trade

Alex Anthopoulos has pulled another rabbit out of his Blue Jays hat if the pending blockbuster trade with the Miami Marlins is approved by major league baseball.  The Blue Jays just fleeced the Marlins for essentially there four best (and most expensive) players and didn’t even trade their top position or pitching prospect to get it done.

Player wise there is no question the Blue Jays are the undisputed winner of this deal but it is not without serious risk.  The Jays are taking on some serious payroll commitments and some of the players coming our way have had long standing injury problems.  In the end this could look like a terrible trade but Alex Anthopoulos decided now was the time to strike in a suddenly wide open AL East.

If you are a fan of the team you have to be happy.  This trade has created a huge buzz already around Toronto and baseball.  It’s November and everybody is talking baseball and isn’t that what every Jays fan has craved since the glory years?  Traffic at this blog increased five-fold in one day, twitter referrals went up 10-fold.

To quote Jay-Z – “the streets is watchin'”.

Who are the Blue Jays losing?

The reported deal has the Blue Jays trading away (in order of value) Yunel Escobar, Jake Marisnick, Justin Nicolino, Adeiny Hechavarria, Henderson Alvarez, Anthony DeSclafini and Jeff Mathis.

Fans won’t be too upset with the departure of Yunel Escobar after “eye-black gate” but when he is focused and playing to his ability (a rarity it seems) he is among of handful of top shortstops both defensively and with the stick.

However considering we have replaced him with an all-star level shortstop (more on who the Jays acquired below!) it’s an easy pill to swallow even for the biggest Esco supporters.

Blue Jays prospect watchers will undoubtedly be disappointed that we lost three excellent prospects in centerfielder Jake Marisnick, shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria and left handed starting pitcher Justin Nicolino.

Of the three I think Nicolino, part of the “Lansing three” along with Noah Syndergaard and Aaron Sanchez, has the best chance to make the Jays regret moving him.  However the fact that we kept Aaron Sanchez and Noah Syndergaard after this trade has to be viewed ultimately as a coup.

Jake Marisnick has been one of our top overall prospects (I had him ranked #2 heading into last season) for the past two years and is oozing with potential.  Baseball America recently ranked him the number two Blue Jays prospect for 2013 (behind only catcher Travis D’Arnaud) and still forecasts a bright future.  I think his stock took a bit of a hit after a relatively sub-par campaign in 2012 but that might be a bit harsh considering how young he is.

Hechavarria has been a popular prospect essentially since he signed with the Jays out of Cuba.  Known for his handy glove work at shortstop the jury is still out on whether he will ever hit enough to warrant 600+ plate appearances for a contending ballclub.  He is seemingly a good kid who is eager to improve and the Marlins should wind up happy he was included.

You know my feelings on Henderson Alvarez; he simply does not miss enough bats to survive in the American League.  He could potentially turn into a serviceable number four or five starter or a swing man out of the bullpen.  I am not high on his potential at all given his current makeup and stat set.  He was a throw-in.

The Blue Jays also moved veteran catcher Jeff Mathis and another youngster Anthony DeSclafini.

So that’s who is leaving, who are the Blue Jays adding?

I think we have to start with all-star calibre shortstop Jose Reyes.  A switch hitter, stolen base threat, top of the batting order run producer, decent defender and an exciting player to watch.  If he can stay healthy Reyes could quickly turn into a Blue Jays fan favourite with his style of play.  Suddenly the left side of the Blue Jays infield is as exciting as any in the big leagues – Brett Lawrie and Jose Reyes should provide plenty of highlight reel plays and energy.

Not without his warts Jose Reyes has sometimes been described as indifferent and has certainly been injury prone over the past few seasons.  I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a tad nervous about a back loaded 6-year contract worth $106 million dollars heading to Toronto.  But without risk there cannot be much reward and at $17 million per season it is definitely a risk.

Josh Johnson is another huge addition for the Blue Jays pitching staff.  Owed $13.75 million next season the big right hander (6’7”) will become the number one starter by default.  When healthy (another big risk) he can be considered one of the better pitchers in baseball.  He gets groundballs, doesn’t walk many batters and is also a strikeout pitcher.

There was a lot of talk at the trade deadline last season that he was available and a lot of Blue Jays fans were disappointed we didn’t get him.  Alex Anthopoulos once again showed why we just talk (and occasionally write) about baseball and he actually runs a team.  The price at the deadline would’ve been ridiculous and would’ve preventing this monster blockbuster from going down in all likelihood.

Johnson, who led the NL in ERA in 2010, went 8-14 this year with a 3.81 earned-run average for the Marlins, who endured a dismal season in their new ballpark and began dismantling the team in July.  Johnson was limited to nine starts in 2011 because of right shoulder inflammation.

He was named an all-star in 2009 and 2010, the year he led the NL with a 2.30 ERA and finished the season 11-6 after signing a four-year contract worth US$39 million.

Mark Buerhle signed a four-year, $58 million dollar contract (14.5 per season) last offseason and has always been a dependable mid-rotation starter.  Expect his overall statistics to weaken heading to the tougher league but he is a guy you can hopefully plug into the line-up and get innings from.

He compiled a 13-13 record in Miami, with a 3.74 ERA and 125 strikeouts. In his 13-year career in the majors Buehrle has 174 wins, 132 losses, a 3.82 ERA and 1,521 strikeouts.

The last piece is a guy I am super excited about, super utility player Emilio Bonifacio.  While he definitely took a step backward in 2012 his numbers from 2011 were impressive.  He slashed .296/.360/.393 with 26 doubles, 7 triples, 59 walks and 40 stolen bases.  He plays a multitude of infield and outfield positions and considering the absolute lack of depth this guy could prove invaluable.

Look for more in-depth statistical pieces on all of the players involved in the coming days and weeks.

It really is a great day for Toronto Blue Jays fans.

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