Grading the Toronto Blue Jays, Miami Marlins Blockbuster Trade
The baseball world got a major shock on Tuesday night with the announcement of its first blockbuster trade of the winter.
The Toronto Blue Jays and Miami Marlins are on the verge of pulling off a 13-player deal that will change the landscape of both franchises for 2013 and beyond.
The Blue Jays acquire starters Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, shortstop Jose Reyes, outfielder Emilio Bonafacio and catcher John Buck.
The Marlins acquire shortstop Yunel Escobar, infielder Adeiny Hechavarria, pitchers Henderson Alvarez, Justin Nicolino and Anthony DeSclafani, outfielder Jake Marisnick and catcher Jeff Mathis.
Miami will also send $4 million in cash to Toronto, and the deal is pending MLB's approval.
On one side, the Blue Jays have just made themselves a major contender in the American League East by adding quality talent in the field and in the rotation.
And on the other side, the Marlins have just performed their third fire-sale in team history and are rebuilding all over again.
Let's grade this blockbuster deal for both sides.
The Blue Jays upgraded at shortstop with Jose Reyes over Yunel Escobar.
Toronto will take over the remainder of the six-year, $106 million deal that Miami forked over to get Reyes from the Mets.
The Blue Jays are getting a quality leadoff hitter who can hit for power, hit for average, can steal a ton of bags and can play excellent defense in the field.
It'll be the first time he will be playing in the American League, but I don't see that being an issue for Reyes.
The Blue Jays didn't have a legitimate ace in their rotation in 2012. They will now have one in 2013 with Johnson.
He's coming off a down season where he went 8-14, but he showed that he can stay healthy, making 31 starts last season.
He's pitched his whole career in the National League with the Marlins, so coming to the American League and pitching in the AL East will be the ultimate test for Johnson.
He's a free agent after 2013, so expect a big season from the right-hander, who I honestly felt needed a change of scenery from Miami.
He's got it, and I think he makes the most of his opportunity.
Just like Jose Reyes, the Blue Jays inherit the remainder of the four-year, $58 million deal that Miami gave Mark Buehrle last winter.
What the Blue Jays are getting is a solid No. 2 pitcher that knows how to pitch in the American League after spending most of his career with the Chicago White Sox.
Toronto fans will like how Buehrle conducts himself on the field; he's a solid pitcher who works very quickly on the mound and was a major fan favorite in Chicago.
He's a little older now, as he will turn 34 in March, but like I said before, Buehrle not only knows how to pitch, but he can win in the AL.
I think the likability that he enjoyed in Chicago will rub off onto the fans in Toronto very easily.
The Blue Jays already have their starting catcher with J.P. Arencibia.
By adding John Buck, the Blue Jays now have a backup catcher that can play full-time if needed.
Buck actually already has experience playing in the AL and was a member of the Blue Jays back in 2010 before he signed a three-year, $18 million deal with the Marlins.
The Blue Jays pick up the final year of the deal worth $6 million for 2013, which is quite a bit for a backup catcher.
Buck will still give you about 10 home runs and 40 RBI as a part-time player.
Offensively, Buck is an upgrade over Mathis. Defensively, Mathis was a better catcher.
With the final player the Blue Jays have acquired in the deal, they got the speedy outfielder in Emilio Bonifacio.
The Blue Jays already have Rajai Davis, Colby Rasmus and Jose Bautista as their current outfielders, so it'll be interesting to see if Bonifacio gets moved into the lineup or becomes a fourth outfielder.
He was limited to just 64 games with the Marlins last year due to knee injuries, but when healthy, he can be a terror on the basepaths.
He stole 40 bases in 2011 and 30 bases in 2012.
Aside from playing the outfield, Bonifacio can play the infield as well; he can play shortstop, second and third base, along with playing all three outfield spots.
Having that kind of player gives Toronto versatility, and it gives them options if they need to rest a player in the lineup.
Final Grade: Toronto Blue Jays
If you are a fan of the Toronto Blue Jays, you have to be excited about this deal.
Granted, the 2013 payroll just added a ton of money onto it, but with teams like the Yankees, Orioles and Rays already contenders, this now gives the Blue Jays a legit chance to compete with the heavyweights of the division.
Putting Jose Reyes in front of hitters like Colby Rasmus, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion will provide plenty of opportunities for RBI chances when Reyes gets on base.
And with the additions of Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, it gives the Blue Jays rotation two solid players that will help Toronto contend.
Throw in Ricky Romero, J.A. Happ and Brandon Morrow, and that makes for a pretty decent pitching staff.
I have a feeling ticket sales in Toronto will increase before the 2013 season now.
Overall grade: A
I think the Blue Jays got fed up with Yunel Escobar's act and jumped at the chance to trade him out of town.
Last season, Escobar had a slur written on his eye black, which earned him a three-game suspension from the team.
Aside from his attitude, his average dropped over 30 points in 2012; plus, his on-base percentage was down almost 70 points from a year ago.
Escobar has three years left on his deal for $15 million, but there are two team options on him for 2014 and 2015.
Money-wise, he's a lot cheaper than Jose Reyes, but he won't give them the same kind of production in the field.
I see a lot of upside with the Marlins getting Adeiny Hechavarria in this deal.
He'll only be 24 years old by the time the 2013 season gets going, and the Marlins could make him their future shortstop or third basemen.
He can also play second base if needed, which, I think, makes him that valuable of an infielder.
In 41 games, he only hit .254 with two home runs and 15 RBI, so he still needs to develop at the plate.
But of the players Miami got in the return deal, I think Hechavarria could be a really good player that ends up being a big part of their lineup in the future.
While the Marlins are losing two key starters in the rotation, they are getting back a young arm they can immediately insert into the rotation for 2013.
Henderson Alvarez had a decent season for Toronto in 2012, posting an 9-14 record with a 4.85 ERA in 31 starts and 187.1 innings.
He only struck out 79 batters and doesn't overpower batters with his velocity, but he will give the Marlins innings in a rotation that will look very different next season.
Along with Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, Ricky Nolasco could be on the block, and Anibal Sanchez was traded this past summer.
On a normal rotation, Alvarez is probably a No. 4 or 5 starter, but in Miami, he could be the No. 2 or 3 starter.
John Buck was the Marlins starting catcher in 2012, playing in 106 games for the team.
So with him headed back to Toronto, Jeff Mathis, for now, is penciled in as the starting catcher for the Marlins.
I don't know if Miami will look to add a starting catcher by the time the season starts, but Mathis is more of a defensive backup.
He won't cost the Marlins as much as Buck did; Mathis will only make $1.5 million in 2013, as opposed to Buck's $6 million.
As far as production goes, Mathis' highest average came in 2012, hitting just .218.
As a defensive catcher, he is a good one, but that's how the Marlins will need to treat him, and they should probably look for a cheap option to be their starter next season.
Final Grade: Miami Marlins
New Marlins manager Mike Redmond must be wondering what he's gotten himself into.
When he signed up to be the team's skipper, he had some talent that he could work with for 2013.
Most of that is gone now after the Marlins' third fire-sale in team history.
We all remember the one after the 1997 World Series and then again a couple of years after the 2003 World Series.
And now, just a year after the Marlins built a brand-new ballpark and spent a fortune in bringing in free-agent talent, the team that was on the field a year ago has been blown up.
Gone are Hanley Ramirez, Heath Bell, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck.
You have to wonder how much longer Ricky Nolasco, Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison stick around.
Jeffrey Loria has made a mess of a second franchise, and if you are a Marlins fan, this is not a fun time to be a fan of your team.
Despite shedding payroll tremendously, Miami has no hopes of competing anytime soon.