The Massive Blue Jays-Marlins Trade

It’s good that there are certain things in life you can rely on — the coming of Spring, old friends, and the Marlins dumping salary.

After spending mightily on free agents last Winter to fill their new ballpark and getting less than satisfactory short-term results, the Marlins have now traded away Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and two others in what can only be described as a massive salary dump.

The Marlins are reportedly throwing in $4 million into the deal, but that’s peanuts compared to the contracts the Blue Jays are taking on.  The Marlins got seven mostly young players, but none of them look to me like players the Marlins are certain to be able to build around in the future.  The Marlins received two Cubans in the deal, which will appeal to local fans in Miami, but I’m sure that Marlins’ fans, like any other, are more interested in seeing a winner.

It’s safe to say that the Blue Jays are now more or less done with deal-making this off-season.  Hard to believe they could have any more money to chase any but the cheapest free agents.

My educated guess is that the Blue Jays pulled the trigger on this deal because they believe that free agent prices are going to go so high this off-season, that by comparison Reyes’ and Buehrle’s large contracts from last off-season will suddenly seem like relative bargains.

In the case of Buehrle, this seems somewhat doubtful, since his four-year free agent contract is heavily back-loaded.  Even so, given that Buehrle’s 2012 season was exactly in line with his prior performances, it certainly is not outside the range of possibility that Buehrle could have commanded a three-year deal for $52 million, the amount left on his contract, if he were a free agent this off-season.

It seems fairly obvious that Jose Reyes is a better player than Yunel Escobar, but in terms of pay-for-play ratio I can see why the Marlins would much rather have Escobar.  Reyes is the better offensive player, although Escobar hit well in 2009 and 2011.

However, fangraphs says that Escobar provides better defense at SS.  Both players will be 30 in 2013.

Meanwhile, Reyes is owed $96 million through 2017, while the Marlins owe Escobar $5 million in 2013 and hold team options to pay Yunel $5 million in each of 2014 and 2015.  Josh Johnson has one year left on his contract at $13.75 million.

Another factor playing into the Reyes/Escobar swap is how Reyes will hit in the American League in 2013, where he’s never played before.

None of the prospects the Marlins receives looks like a can’t miss guy.  Infielder Adeiny Hechavarria will be 24 next year and he looks promising, but he doesn’t walk enough (.314 career minor league OPS).  20 year old LHP Justin Nicolino also looks promising but hasn’t pitched above the Class A Midwest League.  The same is true for 22 year old RHP Anthony DeSclafani.

Centerfielder Jake Marisnick was overmatched in AA ball at age 21 last year, but he definitely has some talent.  RHP Henderson Alvarez established himself as a major league starter in 2012 at age 22, but I doubt he has a bright future because he doesn’t strike anyone out (4.3 Ks/9 IP in MLB; 6.5 Ks/9 IP in the minors) and he isn’t a ground ball pitcher (37 HRs allowed in 251 major league innings pitched).

The trade certainly addresses the Blue Jays’ need for starting pitching and should improve their offense slightly at shortstop and at catcher.  They also get a useful jack-of-all-trades kind of player in Emilio Bonifacio.

Whether it’s enough to make the Blue Jays contenders in the AL East in 2013 remains to be seen.  Needless to say, the Marlins didn’t win with these players in 2012, despite also having the immensely talented young outfielder Giancarlo Stanton.  At least the trade gives Blue Jays’ fans something to be excited about going into 2013 and may help season ticket sales.

You can find links to the traded players’ stats at baseball-reference here.

Explore posts in the same categories: Florida Marlins, Toronto Blue Jays

One Comment on “The Massive Blue Jays-Marlins Trade”

  1. Burly Says: today (11/19/12) reported that the Marlins will be sending $8.5 million to the Blue Jays as part of the trade. Even so, the Marlins are reportedly dumping more than $160 million in future salary obligations for players who aren’t likely to cost them more than a few million per year for the next few years.

    I think Selig did the right thing approving the deal. The Marlins lost last year and are entitled to rebuild. The sell-offs are tough for Marlins’ fans in the short term, but gathering young players in exchange for underperforming veterans has worked for the Marlins before. Major league players get old faster than most fans think.

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