It seems like just yesterday (or a year ago, I guess) that the Marlins were aggressive buyers on the free agent market, but a newly confirmed blockbuster deal with the Blue Jays seemingly concludes their quick descent back to rebuilding after a horrendous 2012. The Marlins are sending shortstop Jose Reyes, starting pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, infielder Emilio Bonifacio, and John Buck north of the border with suitcases full of flannel shirts, maple syrup, and Labatt’s. Headed to Miami are the following 93 players: shortstop Yunel Escobar, catcher Jeff Mathis, starting pitcher Henderson Alvarez, infielder Adeiny Hechavarria, and prospects Jake Marisnick, Justin Nicolino, and Anthony DeSclafini. The Jays will also get $4 million in the deal.
Whew. That’s quite a list! The Marlins are now down to only the men earning the smallest paychecks, and they clearly want to hit the reset button, but this seems like a rash move that didn’t yield enough in return. Josh Johnson’s down 2012 was still nearly a 4-WAR effort, Mark Buehrle remains an effective mid-rotation option, Jose Reyes is one of the best shortstops in baseball, and even Emilio Bonifacio has his baserunning and BABIP charms. Sure, the large sum of money owed to these guys is gone, but it’s not like part of Toronto’s new bounty couldn’t have still been useful to keep fans in the seats and combine with Miami’s minor league influx that’s bound to happen soon.
Maybe I’d be singing a different song, one with a way catchier melody, if the Marlins had found a way to convert the generally recognizable part of their roster into a more meaningful pool of prospects. The two names that stick out are those of outfielder Jake Marisnick and starting pitcher Justin Nicolino. Before the 2012 season began, Baseball America listed Marisnick as the second best prospect in the Toronto system, while Nicolino was fifth. In a recent FanGraphs post, Nicolino was ranked fifth and Marisnick came in at the six spot. Marisnick is a quick and athletic center fielder who hasn’t yet produced much but is considered toolsy. Nicolino is a control heavy lefty who isn’t projected as an ace but could pan out as a very solid Major League starter. Both are nice gains for the Miami farm system, but it’s not like Toronto had to purge its minor league teams to make this trade happen.
It stands to reason that at some point teams will take note of the recent trades the Marlins and Red Sox had to make and realize that today’s game isn’t all that conducive to the whole “buy your whole roster” thing. There are plenty of baseball teams being run very well, but too many still refuse to build primarily from within, and that’s going to be a problem for them. Desire to start over aside, I can’t help but feel the Marlins could have at least held on to the better long-term financial commitments (Reyes, potentially Johnson on a new contract) on the roster and used them as centerpieces for the future.
Sure, the Blue Jays have to take on a hefty chunk of salary, but there are already enough key pieces in place that this trade is a good one. Toronto had the funds available to make this happen, and the personnel price paid was not nearly high enough for any of our baseball fans to the north to be concerned. The deal also makes sense in that it found a new place to put outcast Yunel Escobar, he of sexual orientation-based eye black slurs and wildly volatile seasons. Alex Anthopoulos has done a lot of positive things since taking over in Toronto, and now it looks like he’s found a way to immediately put his team in contention for 2013. Who knows, maybe we’ll even go nuts again and pick them to win the AL East for a second straight season! Oh, and in case you just woke up from a coma or hate baseball, that didn’t work out so well for us last time.
Tagged: Adeiny Hechevarria, Anthony DeSclafani, Emilio Bonifacio, Henderson Alvarez, Jake Marisnick, Jeff Mathis, John Buck, John Johnson, Jose Reyes, Justin Nicolino, Mark Buehrle, Miami Marlins, MLB hot stove, MLB Trade Rumors, MLB Trades, MLB transactions, Toronto Blue Jays, Yunel Escobar