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Joon’s Sports Musings: Marlins-Blue Jays mega trade terrible for both sides


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Former Miami Marlins shortstop José Reyes warms up before an August 2nd game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Reyés was traded with pitcher Mark Buehrle, pitcher Josh Johnson and outfielder Emilio Bonifacio this past Tuesday to the Toronto Blue Jays. (Photo by Joon Lee)

Remember that huge Red Sox-Dodgers trade that got everyone cheering at Fenway? The trade between the Marlins and the Blue Jays has had the precise opposite effect for the fans of the Miami Marlins. The players, the fans, everyone is pissed. A year after opening up a new stadium, fans had high expectations for a team with new faces like Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle. But the Miami Marlins have blown up their team.

The trade mirrors the Red Sox trade of Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett in that a bunch of salary is going from one team trying to rebuild—the Marlins—to another team trying to push themselves over the edge into playoff contention—the Blue Jays. One of the major differences, though, is that both teams are losers in this trade.

The Marlins shed over $160 million in payroll with this trade, and in the process pissed off and alienated an already nearly non-existent fan base. The team and owner Jeffrey Loria lost millions of dollars after opening a brand new stadium, equipped with a fish tank behind home plate and a bizarre structure in left field that goes after a homerun. The team was losing money fast and Loria, who has a history of being cheap with the team, jumped at the opportunity to shed salary.

After signing José Reyés, Mark Buehrle and Ozzie Guillen, the Marlins looked equipped to make a big run as a multi-million dollar squad opening a new stadium. After the trade, the team has a disgruntled star in Giancarlo Stanton and a team full of AAA players. No big-time free agent will want to sign in Miami for fear of being traded a year into his deal.

The reasons are obvious as to why the Marlins are a big loser in this trade. Miami can no longer attract free agents, a whole fan base is now alienated by the worst owner in Major League Baseball, and the team is going to be terrible for years to come.

The Blue Jays, on the other hand, gave up very little in shortstop Yunel Escobar (an average player), Adeiny Hechavarria (José Iglesias 2.0 with less glove and more bat), Henderson Alvarez (a pitcher with good stuff, but who gives up a lot of homers) and fringe catcher Jeff Mathis. This is the equivalent to what the Memphis Grizzlies got in the Pau Gasol trade way back when.

The Blue Jays have themselves an ace in Johnson, a reliable 2-3 pitcher in Buehrle and a dynamic player in José Reyes. So what makes this trade a terrible deal for the Jays?

Josh Johnson, a pitcher with ace-type potential and injury issues, has one year left on his deal. With the stuff that he has, and the money that it could demand on the open market, Johnson is all but gone from Toronto after the season. Why pitch in Canada when you could pitch in New York or Los Angeles? Expect Johnson to leave Toronto after one year.

So that leaves us Mark Buehrle and José Reyés as the two big players left in this trade. Reyes has six years and $106 million left on his contract. Reyes is going into the prime of his career at the age of 29, but his batting average was down last year at .287 as was his on-base percentage. Reyes has been injury-prone throughout his career and will be stepping onto a bigger stage, the American League East.

Not only does the AL East have better pitching than the NL East, but the pressure will be on Reyes to immediately create success in Toronto.
Mark Buehrle will be expected to be the veteran presence on Blue Jays rotation, which I have no doubt he will do well. The problem with Buehrle is his age (34 on opening day), the time left on his contract (3 years) and his lack of success against the AL East. The Red Sox have hit .300 against the southpaw, the Yankees .333, the Rays .288 and the Orioles .255. Buehrle is owed a lot of money over the next three years in a division that will be tougher than any other he has been in to date. The number of home runs he has given up has gone up each of the past three years. As he ages, Buehrle’s performance will not be able to warrant the massive contract he has left. His dog—a bulldog—will also not be traveling to Toronto as it is illegal to own a bulldog in Ontario. So there is that.

The trade looks like an absolute steal at first glance. The Jays gave up next to nothing and got three very good Major League players. But with the money owed to the players, Johnson’s one-year deal, and the difficulties of the AL East, this trade isn’t as one-sided as it has been made out to be.

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Joon’s Sports Musings: Marlins-Blue Jays mega trade terrible for both sides