Everyone in the baseball world was blindsided when the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers pulled off a historic mega-deal back in August. A nine-player deal with $260 million in salary changing hands is quite a feat in this day and age, and there will probably never be anything like it again for sometime — or at least that’s what everybody thought.
Almost three months removed from that monstrous deal, and the Miami Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays are on the verge of pulling off the same type of deal with more, high-profile players and almost the same amount of money being dumped. The deal is under review and pending league approval, but it will most likely go through.
The Blue Jays will receive five players, including All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes, starting pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle and $4 million. On the other side, the Marlins will obtain some promising minor league talent to build with and, most notably, a $236 million salary dump. Though it seems to be ideal for the Blue Jays with the talent coming back, the deal may not be as one-sided as experts and fans may see it.
The Blue Jays most certainly benefit in the short term due to the caliber of players who are coming back in the deal. Any time a team can add a slew of perennial All-Stars and proven major league talent to their roster is looked at as an instant upgrade. There may be an adjustment period like the Dodgers had in August after their mega-deal, but the Blue Jays have the whole offseason to develop team chemistry as opposed to trying to do so in a pennant race like the Dodgers.
The Blue Jays get a pair of speedy table setters in Reyes and utility man Emilio Bonifacio to hit in front of sluggers like outfielder Jose Bautista and third baseman Edwin Encarnacion. The pitching staff looked sub-par before with a plethora of developing young arms, but now, with Buehrle and Johnson in the fray, the rotation becomes more solidified.
Then there are the Marlins, who were coming off a last-place finish in the division after relocating to a new city and a new multi-million dollar ballpark. They, of course, look like the losers here after selling off over half their team for lesser known prospects who have “high upside.” To a developing fan base in Miami that had championship hopes last season, with a star-studded roster and formerly sucessful manager Ozzie Guillen, it looks like a betrayal. None of it panned out, and the chemistry wasn’t there to make a winning ball club. Fans probably believed the team needed to go out and buy more this offseason to make up for the fluke, but instead the team does a 180 and ships out its top players and fires the manager.
While the short term provides a small glimpse of the deal, the long term effects paint a different picture. The Blue Jays may have great talent now, but the talent doesn’t come without concerns. Reyes, Johnson, and Bonifacio have all had injury problems in their careers which could be cause for concern in both the present and future. The salary the Blue Jays take on here will make it harder to sign big-name free agents in the coming years and will also put a stress on developing a good farm system to replace the incoming talent when they become free agents or retire.
The Marlins may win out in all of this due to the youth movement they are undergoing in this trade. In all, the Marlins will receive players with 32 years of team control, which means that negotiating contracts and handing out big money to these players will not be necessary in the next few years.
The team does receive some valuable pieces in starter Henderson Alvarez and shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria — both of whom are projected to slide into the major league roster and contribute next year. The best outcome of the deal is that the Marlins now have spending money, either to pay homegrown stars like outfielder Giancarlo Stanton or go back out into the free-agent market and invest more wisely than they did.
While this deal helps the Blue Jays make all the headlines now, there is an underlying sense of optimism for the Marlins over the next few years. Only time will tell, but both teams are sure to face their ups and downs over the coming years as a result of this blockbuster fall out, and the deal will be measured by who handle those situations the best.