Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Blue Jays Make a Splash, Reel in Five Marlins

By
Just the other day, I was speaking to someone about how I was convinced the Blue Jays were going to stand pat this offseason. Despite the fact that the club clearly had gaping holes in their roster, my cynical side thought the Blue Jays were going to do anything but make a splash.

Clearly, I was very wrong.

The initial reaction to the trade was one of complete and utter shock. I'm not speaking in hyperboles here, this transaction affects the entire landscape of the Toronto Blue Jays. It has huge repercussions at both the Major League and Minor League level.

It may not have been the largest trade in the terms of players involved, but it certainly was one of the biggest in terms of the calibre of players the Toronto Blue Jays received in return from the Miami Marlins.

Let's just sit back and think about this for a second ... the Blue Jays acquired four All-Stars in one fell swoop from the Marlins. Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Josh Joshnon are all fantastic players. And when healthy, Emilio Bonifacio is a serviceable infielder/outfielder. John Buck is really just there as salary relief.

Upgrading the rotation: Johnson and Buehrle

Straight out of the gate, I really like this trade for the Blue Jays. They immediately upgrade the rotation with two solid starting pitchers in Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson, and they also upgrade significantly at the shortstop position with Jose Reyes.

Not that Buehrle and Johnson are coming to Toronto on the cheap at $11 million and $13.7 million next season respectively, but I think a proponent of this deal really must have hinged on the price of free agent starting pitching.

Odds are that Zack Greinke, Edwin Jackson and Anibal Sanchez were all asking for well above that amount on a multi-year deal. Not to mention the Blue Jays would undoubtedly have to overpay to convince any of those guys to come to Toronto.

So it seems like the trade route was the only viable avenue for the Blue Jays to use to upgrade their starting rotation this offseason without going completely insane with dollars and duration of contracts.

Jose Reyes: the new shortstop

With Jose Reyes, the Blue Jays truly have that dynamic player and a very rare talent. A solid defender, a great hitter and a threat on the basepaths. Not to mention, a prototypical leadoff hitter the Blue Jays have been in need of for a very long time.

I was very surprised to learn this, but @eggshmeg pointed out to me that Jose Reyes is actually a year younger than Yunel Escobar. So the Blue Jays really do upgrade in every way imaginable at the shortstop position.

Here is the caveat of the entire trade for me though; the 2015-2017 years on Jose Reyes' contract. In 2015, Reyes' salary will jump to $22 million per year. He'll only be 34 years old at the end of the contract, but with his history of leg injuries, hopefully Reyes doesn't turn into yet another albatross contract like Vernon Wells did.

Not to mention, if the Blue Jays are going to be footing Jose Reyes' salary at $22 million come 2015, wouldn't it be paramount to spend a little more and upgrade the field to real grass? If they're going to spend that much, why not spend a little more and protect your asset?

Buck and Bonifacio

I keep forgetting that John Buck was included in the trade, but he is merely salary relief on the part of the Marlins. And with the glut of catchers on the roster, Buck could be as good as gone by Opening Day anyway.

Emilio Bonifacio might not take the starting second baseman's job away from Maicer Izturis, but Bonifacio is a welcome upgrade on the bench that can not only field multiple positions, but he also has some speed as well.

Bonifacio really is the wild card in this entire trade. He's under team control through 2014, and when healthy is a legitimate threat on the basepaths. Ideally, I think Emilio Bonifacio and Maicer Izturis could combine for a platoon at second base, or maybe even split time with Rajai Davis in left field.

The fact that Emilio Bonifacio is a switch hitter and can field multiple positions really gives the Blue Jays some much-needed flexibility in the lineup.

Parting with prospects

Of course, in order to get something, you have give something up ... and the Blue Jays gave up some good players in this trade. Toronto sent three of their Top 10 prospects over to Miami, in addition to Yunel Escobar, Henderson Alvarez and Jeff Mathis.

Those guys basically get cancelled out with the acquisition of another SS, C and two SP's, but it's those prospects that could really come back to bite the Blue Jays. However, that's the cost of doing business.

Often times the most highly-touted prospects don't pan out, and sometimes they do come exactly as advertised. But at the end of the day, they're still prospects ... and they won't be Major League ready for 2-3 years. The players the Blue Jays received from the Miami Marlins are all established Major Leaguers and are ready to make an impact on the roster right now.

And with the wealth of depth in the minors, the Blue Jays could actually afford to part with some of their best prospects. They didn't have to part with their number one prospect in Travis d'Arnaud, and they still have two of the Lansing Three.

What this trade really means

After a disastrous 2012 season, something drastic needed to be done to improve the roster, and Alex Anthopoulos answered with a very bold move. The Toronto Blue Jays sent a very clear message that they are here to contend.

No one can say for certain whether this blockbuster trade has the potential to be a game-changer like the Fernandez/McGriff for Alomar/Carter was, but with the calibre of players involved, it certainly has the gravity to do just that ... to change the game.

The past few seasons, it seems like this regime has been heavily focused on drafting and developing young players. Now that the club is starting to see some of the fruits of their labour, I feel like the Blue Jays shifted gears and placed an emphasis back on the big league squad with this trade.

For the longest time, I just wanted the Blue Jays to do something. Not necessarily just for the sake of it, but at least to give the appearance like they were making an effort to improve the team.

It felt like this team was in a perpetual state of building and rebuilding ever since Alex Anthopoulos took over the helm as General Manager. But in one fell sweep, AA immediately fast forwarded the timeline on contention for the Blue Jays.

And so here we are at a crossroads in the franchise of this team - the Blue Jays could either stand pat and do nothing, or they could take a leap of faith and make a really big move. Although doing the latter may blow up in their face, I respect that the Blue Jays are finally going for it.

Instead of looking ahead into the future and wondering what tomorrow will bring, welcome to today.

22 comments:

  1. I'm still in a state of shock... the future is now for the Toronto Blue Jays. Finally. I havn't been this excited to be a Blue Jay fan in a long long time.

    I guess no one can complain about Rogers being cheap anymore.

    So the questions going forward...

    1: Is there more coming in? The Jays doubled their payroll is that the end of it? I'd have to guess yes.

    2: Who catches? We've got three catchers with MLB expereience and our top prospect at AAA banging on the door is a catcher... somethings gotta give. Either JPA or Buck will have to be moved sooner or later. And if it's JPA for what? More MLB talent (More Payroll???) or propects to replentish the pool that AA has dipped into?

    3: Who's in left? Do we roll with Rajai or Gose or is someone else coming?

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    1. 1.) All signs point to another move coming down the pipe. I can't imagine the Blue Jays would ride with 4 catchers on the 40 man roster. Which leads me into your second question ...

      2.) It's just my inkling that either John Buck or J.P. Arencibia gets dealt. J.P. is the more attractive of the two, but I'm sure there's another team out there who could use a veteran catcher like Buck behind the plate. If it is in fact Arencibia that gets traded, I'm really not sure what he could net in return. He's probably need to be packaged together with another player to get anything worthwhile back.

      3.) Left field still seems like a wild card. Depending on how Spring Training goes, it could very well be Gose ... but I can't imagine they'd have him on the big league roster unless he's starting this year.

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    2. i think it will be cabrera!!!

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  2. I think bonifacio might play in left a little too, also do you think that there is a chance for an Arencibia for Garza deal?

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    1. I think it's more likely we see Emilio as an infielder, maybe the odd time in the outfield. 242 career games starting in the infield and 164 in the outfield.

      Arencibia for Garza? I don't think J.P. alone would get it done, and Garza's only under control for one more year, so I don't really think that helps the Blue Jays out very much going forward.

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  3. Is this deal still seen as a win if Johnson walks after 1 year?

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    1. My gut tells me that JJ does in fact walk at the end of next year. Especially if he stays healthy in 2013, he will be looking for big money on the free agent market, one which I'm not sure the Blue Jays would go after. However, Drew Hutchison and Kyle Drabek should be recovered by then, and either one could hopefully step in and take JJ's spot in 2014 if he walks.

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    2. all of that is likely true so did we give up too much for an expensive Buerhle and reyes?

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    3. It's hard to say right now. Buehrle is expensive at $11/$18/$19 annually, but at least his salary is off the books come 2016. Reyes worries me because the contract is so incredibly back-loaded. If he puts up a couple decent seasons, it might warrant paying that kind of cash for him.

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    4. Buehrle's contract averages out to 16m for the three years or about what Anibal Sanchez is looking for in his new long term contract. Sanchez has totalled 9 War in the last 3 years with a peak of 3.9 in his career, while Buehrle has totalled 10.3 War over the same time frame with a peak of 5.9 in his career. Sanchez might turn into a workhorse but you know what you are getting with Buehle. Being a soft tosser he won't be putting much stress on his arm in the next few years and the only way I see him missing any time is if he is left alone with a jar again.I can definitely see Buerle getting 10 War in the next 3 years and earning that contract.

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  4. arencebia is one of the best offensive catchers in the league in term of production rbis and he is hitting in the bottom of the order. his average is poor 220 currently. but i beleive it will come up. Check the numbers 20 plus home runs close to 100 rbis from the catcher pos is priceless. look how much they are paying martin and will pay him for less ie 50 rbis on stacked team decent avg 250

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    1. No doubt that J.P. is one of the best power-hitting C's in the league - he has the 6th most home runs for a catcher the past two years combined. But he's not an on-base guy and an average defensive catcher.

      By all accounts, Travis d'Arnaud is better defensively and offensively. He might not hit for power, but if he can hit for average and play well defensively, that's a good trade off behind the plate.

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    2. Thanks for the civil reply it dosent always happen. My point is not jp is better than darnauad but why get rid of such a valuable asset when you dont need to. And he is hitting in 9 or bottom 2
      In addition darnaund is still just that a prospect i think he will be better than jp but nothing to back that up he has good numbers in triple a but nothing to go on in the Majors. Jesus montero as an example (not sure if right name but yankees prospect-Seattle)
      What happens if you trade jp and darnaund cant hit major league pitching now you need a catcher.

      It wont hurt to leave darnaud in minors until he forces the jays hd by playing well in majors. And if jp ups his avg 1st base dh could be in his future or trade him when the actual problem exists

      buck and jp majors wilson who cares and darnaund in minors or see if value in buck. I would like to keep him as he hit great here

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    3. All very valid points. There are still some questions about d'Arnaud, especially with his injury last year. If he does end up being the catcher everybody hopes he is though, that will force the Blue Jays to make a decision on either J.P. or d'Arnaud. I can't see a situation where they both coexist unless somebody switches a position (unless they DH).

      Again, this is a very good problem for the Blue Jays to have. Lots of catching depth is never a bad thing, but if somebody comes along with a great offer, it would behoove them to at least listen to it.

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  6. So, this is what it feel like to have a winning roster. Go Jays!

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  7. They haven t played a single game (or even had the trade approved) and yet a Blue Jays fan is being a twat! They were a last place team in Miami and they are joining a shit team, yet you assume they are winners.... bad sports cities never change.

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    1. Grow up. Bad sports cities never change? I'm curious what elite sports city you claim to be from. By the way, the Blue Jays won two World Series titles. There are a lot of teams who haven't won one World Series in that time.

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  8. Typical Anonymous clowns!! Sounds like a bitter Redsox or Yankees fan based on his inaccurate account of Toronto. I guess anyone that has an opinion that the Jays got better, is a twat according to his logic.

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