On Tuesday, the Toronto Blue Jays and Miami Marlins stunned the baseball world by orchestrating a massive 12-player blockbuster trade.
Heading to Miami are Henderson Alvarez, Yunel Escobar, Adeiny Hechavarria, Jake Marisnick, Justin Nicolino, and Anthony DeSclafani. In return the Blue Jays receive Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonafacio, John Buck, and reportedly $8 million in offsetting salary.
The Jays added $160 million in salary to their payroll, of which $42 million is for the next season alone, putting to rest any notion that Rogers is not financially committed to building a winner in Toronto.
Before this trade, the Jays’ top off-season priority was to add depth to the starting pitching rotation. It’s safe to assume that this trade achieved that goal and then some. Josh Johnson is a proven top-of-the-rotation starter, and perhaps even more than that if he can regain the form he had prior to his Tommy John surgery. Mark Buehrle is more controlled and refined than Johnson; he doesn’t throw a top-end fastball, but he makes a living putting the ball in the strike zone and keeping hitters off-balance. Over the last 12 seasons, Buehrle has pitched a combined 2,679 innings. For a team that suffered several injuries in 2012, primarily in their rotation, this addition is no doubt welcome.
The Blue Jays significantly improved their offence lineup as well. José Reyes is an instant upgrade over former Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar, and from a statistical standpoint has produced more wins above replacement level than any other shortstop in the American League over the past two seasons (at 10.6). Moreover, Reyes is a proven lead-off man and base-stealing threat. Meanwhile, Emilio Bonafacio is a versatile player capable of playing all infield and outfield positions; Bonafacio sports a career .329 on-base percentage, and a burner on the basepaths, making him a viable number-two hitter in the lineup. Also included in the deal is returning catcher John Buck. Given Buck’s past ties with the Blue Jays, his transition should be seamless.
Not surprisingly, the fan reaction to this trade was overwhelmingly positive. “I still can’t believe what happened. This is easily the most significant trade in franchise history,” said Afnan Azam, a first-year accounting student. “If this trade doesn’t push the Blue Jays into contention in 2013, I don’t know what will.”
Saif el Aboudi, a third-year economics student, was similarly enthusiastic. “I would have been happy with Josh Johnson alone,” he said. “The fact that we added Reyes, Bonafacio, and Buehrle on top is just gravy.”
On the opposing end of the trade, Marlins fans are not as pleased. “This trade is a joke; the entire Marlins organization is a joke,” said Chris Conner, a first-year English student. “They built a new stadium with taxpayers’ dollars and promised to assemble a contending team—and then, less than a full year later, are dismantling it?”
Conner’s comments echo those of many disgruntled Marlins fans. The underlying issue is not the dynamics of the trade itself, but the perceived betrayal of the public trust. The Marlins’ owner, Jeffrey Loria, lobbied for public funding for his new ballpark with the promise of building a contending team.
In total, Marlins Park cost $634 million to construct, 80% of which was funded by taxpayers. The public upheld their end of the agreement, but so far Loria hasn’t upheld his.