12:12 pm Nov. 14, 2012
The 12-player deal between the Miami Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays has two significant effects upon New York's baseball landscape. It eliminates an obstacle for the 2013 New York Mets, and it places a far heavier burden on the 2013 New York Yankees.
The deal, a salary dump for the ages, goes like this: Toronto receives Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, John Buck, Emilio Bonifacio and $4 million. Miami receives Yunel Escobar, Adeiny Hechavarria, Henderson Alvarez, Justin Nicolino, Jeff Mathis, Jake Marisnick and Anthony DeSclafani.
The Marlins received some roster filler, and limited hope for the future. Escobar is a perfectly reasonable shortstop, Alvarez a young, durable pitcher with limited upside, Hechavarria a utility man at best, Mathis a catcher without a major league bat. Nicolino is a very good pitching prospect, DeSclafani and Marisnick somewhat exciting prospects as well.
But in return, the Blue Jays got a star shortstop in Reyes, two front-end starting pitchers in Johnson and Buehrle, a likely starter at second base in Bonifacio, and a backup catcher in Buck who probably won't stick around.
It is the kind of trade a real commissioner would probably void. But Bud Selig has made it clear for some time now that when it comes to owners, the only thing they have to fear is lacking a great relationship with Bud Selig. Beyond that, Jeff Loria can feel free to destroy baseball in Miami just like he did in Montreal.
The pretense of spending came, in the first place, so Loria could get approval for a publicly-funded new stadium. He's got it, and now he won't have to give it back, just because he gave back his players. The Marlins, left with Giancarlo Stanton and not much else, aren't going to be much of a threat to the Mets or anyone else in the National League East for years to come.
The Blue Jays, however, are another story. The Yankees now face a division rival with an enviable infield of Reyes and Bonifacio up the middle, Edwin Encarnacion and his 42 home runs at first base, and excellent prospect Brett Lawrie at third base, not yet 23 years old. At catcher, Travis D'Arnaud, who inexplicably was not demanded by the Marlins, will be up shortly to join them. And the designated hitter is Jose Bautista, whose down year in 2012 still included 27 home runs.
A starting rotation that struggled has a pair of pitchers in Johnson and Buehrle who will be at the minimum, competent, with a chance to be far better, particularly Johnson if he stays healthy. This young core, much of which is under team control through 2016, will likely present challenges to the Yankees and other American League East foes.
Depending on how much you believe in the 2012 Baltimore Orioles, and how quickly the Boston Red Sox can rebuild, there aren't likely to be any easy games in the American League East next season.
And all it took was the utter self-destruction of a Marlins team.