Blue Jays-Marlins Blockbuster Trade Puts Toronto in AL East Driver's Seat
Just when you thought the Hot Stove League was off to a slow start, the Blue Jays and Marlins found a way to snatch the headlines for days to come with a reported blockbuster trade of epic proportions involving Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, among others (according to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi).
To complete the deal, Toronto gave up several quality prospects, along with two major league players in Yunel Escobar and Jeff Mathis. But on the whole, they lost very little in comparison to what they gained.
Acquiring Reyes alone would have been a coup for the Blue Jays, given the explosiveness he brings to the top of the order and his ability in the field at shortstop. In spite of the Marlins' struggles last season, Reyes put up strong numbers at the top of Miami's lineup, batting .287 with 37 doubles, 12 triples, 11 home runs, 57 runs batted in and 40 stolen bases.
Being able to get Johnson and Buehrle along with Reyes makes this deal a massive victory for Toronto's front office. They should have one of the better rotations in baseball if Johnson and Buehrle pitch to their capabilities.
Out of the two, Johnson brings the most firepower to Toronto's pitching staff, with a career ERA of 3.15 to go along with 832 strike outs and 56 wins. Buehrle has an impressive track record of his own, albeit over a longer period of time, and could end up being a more consistent option for Toronto next season, depending on how Johnson fares in going up against the more difficult lineups of the AL East.
There's little doubt that the addition of Reyes should help Jose Bautista's numbers in a big way, as he should have runners on base in front of him more often. This will force opposing pitchers to be extremely careful with him at the plate or risk having him demolish a poor pitch. That should lead to an increase in walks and runs batted in, not to mention increase the amount of wins for the Blue Jays pitching staff.
The influx of talent to their starting lineup should immediately put the Blue Jays in the pole position for a AL East championship next year, although having a talented team on paper is no guarantee of success in a given season (as the Red Sox found out the hard way in 2011).
Obviously, the rest of the division will have something to say when it comes to the eventual AL East champion next season, with the Yankees and Orioles seemingly in the best position to challenge for the title and the Red Sox currently on the outside looking in.
Trades like this usually end up in one of two ways: as a bust for the team taking on the talent (and salary that comes with it) or as the starter for bigger things to come. If the Blue Jays can stay healthy and have their newly acquired superstars mesh well with their established players, they should be able to make their end of the deal turn out well, with a deep postseason run right behind.
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