Thoughts on the Blue Jays-Marlins Blockbuster

Alex Anthopolous, much criticized in recent days for his delay in hiring a manager for the Toronto Blue Jays, has, by all appearances, pulled off one hell of a trade this evening. Taking full advantage of Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey (Scrooge Mc)Loria and his steadfast adherence to hip-hop’s universal maxim, Anthopolous has reportedly acquired Pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, Shortstop Jose Reyes, Multipositional Fast Dude Emilio Bonifacio, Catcher (and forme Blue Jay) John Buck, and somewhere in the neighbourhood of $4 million. In exchange, the Jays send Shortstops Yunel Escobar and Adeiny Hechevarria, Catcher Jeff Mathis, RHP Henderson Alvarez, and a trio of prospects, Pitchers Justin Nicolino and Anthony DeSclafani and Outfielder Jake Marisnick. An excellent roundup of Twitter reaction to the piecemeal revealing of the trade, as well as forthcoming analysis, can be found at Drunk Jays Fans.

With those details, at least apparently, hashed out, I’m going to offer some of my initial thoughts on the trade, presented in list format for your enjoyment.

1) The Jays just got better. Like a lot. Seriously so much better, guys.

The immediate impact of this trade on the Toronto Blue Jays is massive. Johnson and Buehrle probably start the season as the teams number one and three starters, respectively, though an emerging Brandon Morrow may end up as the team’s best pitcher. Ricky Romero is pushed down to the four spot, and in all likelihood J.A. (call me “Jay”) Happ will take the fifth starter’s role. In an ideal scenario, this means no more shitty Aaron Laffey or shittier Joel Carreno starting games for this team.

In terms of position players, Reyes is the player who will have the biggest impact on the team. He should start at Shortstop on opening day, and lead off, marking a fairly significant upgrade over Yunel Escobar’s performance there last season, when he was terrible, or even the season before, when he was quite good. Buck and Bonifacio should be no more than backups, with Bonifacio being a capable player in both the infield and outfield. Buck gives the team the ability to trade one of their catchers, be it him, J.P. Arencibia, or top prospect Travis D’Arnaud, in order to shore up holes at Second Base, Left Field, or First Base.

2) Speaking of Top Prospects, the Jays kept theirs

That this trade was made without the inclusion of consensus top catching prospect in baseball Travis D’Arnaud is impressive. That it was made with only one of Justin Nicolino, Aaron Sanchez, and Noah Syndergaard is incredible. That the player included from that list is the one with the lowest ceiling is a coup. Nicolino is a very good prospect, ranked fifth in the system by Marc Hulet at Fangraphs, but he still ranks behind Sanchez and Syndergaard, with Hulet noting his not-exactly-elite velocity and lack of projectable big-league out pitch as potential flaws. The Jays also included Jake Marisnick (ranked 6 by Hulet) in the trade, but Marisnick’s ability to make consistent contact has not often manifested itself at the minor league level, and at this point his value is as a very athletic dream, rather than an immediate contributor to a contender. Not saying he’s not a guy I want around, but he is the kind of guy who’s tools might not ever actualize, so it may be for the best to get value for him when the opportunity arises.

3) Speaking of value, people usually talk about value in terms of money, and money is something Jeffrey Loria likes a whole lot, often at the expense of being an even remotely tolerable human being

Apologies for the awkwardly-segued heading, but I don’t see you writing this. Point is, Jeffrey Loria likes money, and really doesn’t like spending it on things like his employees without tangible benefit to himself. Loria is the crook that drove baseball out of Montreal. He’s the dickbag that blew up a World Series-winning team in 2003 because he didn’t want to pay any more than he had to for his players. He’s the miser who, on the promise of building a contender, conned the taxpayers of Miami into building him a stadium, one which opened this past season. The opening of the stadium was accompanied by a shiny new roster of free agent acquisitions such as Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle. And now, less than a calendar year after the ribbon was cut on the stadium, Loria is blowing up the roster again. All because it doesn’t serve his economic interests to build a winner. He got a stadium on the cheap. He can sell the team for more than what he paid for it, winner or not. Why spend more than he has to?

For more accounts of Jeffrey Loria being a bottomfeeding shitscammer, check out Deadspin.

4) On the topic of money, Rogers has money?

Long-berated for their tight pursestrings, Blue Jays owners Rogers Communication have made a significant financial investment in this trade. I don’t want to do the math right now, and the information is pretty easily available, but suffice it to say that mouthbreathers can no longer use Rogers’ unwillingness to spend as an excuse for poor performance from this team. They’re willing to spend like the big boys when the opportunity is right, and that is damn encouraging.

5) The Bad Side, or, What if Everybody Gets Hurt Real Bad?

Lost in the excitement of the deal is the glaring reality that the two most significant pieces acquired by the Blue Jays come with track records of injury trouble. Johnson had Tommy John surgery in 2007, and made only 9 starts in 2011 due to shoulder inflammation. He made 31 starts in 2012, and was effective, though not to the same degree as his pre-2011 performances. Reyes missed nearly all of the 2009 season and was hampered by leg injuries through 2010 and 2011, though he did appear in 160 games in 2012.

It is important to consider that, while both are in their primes, there is a non-zero chance of one or both missing significant time this season, beyond the usual chance of injury undertaken by any baseball player. That said, the chance to acquire two potentially elite players in their primes, while retaining elite organizational depth and control of your top prospects is a chance that a team needs to take, should it present itself. All considered (albeit briefly, and by a thoroughly unimpressive baseball mind), I would consider this a significant win for the Blue Jays. Does it make them contenders? Not necessarily. There are still significant holes to be filled through trade or free agency, and the team is still without a manager. The trade does, however, set the Jays up much more nicely for potential contention than they have been in many years.


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