The general opinion going around is that the Toronto Blue Jays up and fleeced the Marlins in their recent massive trade and, in terms immediate baseball talent, they probably did. And while it will be the most anticipated season in recent memory for Jays fans, I can't help but get an uneasy feeling this trade may come and bite the team in the ass down the road as I look more into it.
First off, the centrepiece of the deal is generally considered to be Jose Reyes, an All Star shortstop and, admittedly, fairly exciting player to watch. He's been a great player in the past, getting on base at a good but not great clip, and had plus plus speed a few years ago but due to decline and injuries, probably only possesses plus speed at this point. Arguably the most talented player in the trade, there is no doubt he will contribute significantly over the next few years.
But here's the problem....since Reyes signed a backloaded contract last year with the Marlins, $66 million of his $106 million contract is paid out over his age 32 to 34 seasons. $10 million was paid out last year, which means the Marlins got one year of him at under market value, which also means that the contract will be over market value down the road. And considering middle infielders don't age graciously (Jays fans may remember when Robbie Alomar fell off a cliff as a Met) paying Jose Reyes $22 million as a 33 year old might severely limit the Jays roster flexibility in a few years.
Now, one could make an argument that Josh Johnson is the most talented player in the trade (and considering the importance of starting pitcher, he may be the most important to the success of the Jays next year). However, he has one year at $13.75 mil left on his deal and then hits the open market. And his agent has made it known he has every intention of testing that open market. So the Jays are only getting one year out of Johnson and, given his injury history, this may only result in 10-15 starts.
And this is where it starts getting ugly. Mark Buehrle used to be a pretty solid pitcher. And while he's not terrible, he's not much more than a decent 4th starter that doesn't miss any bats at this point in his career. Useful, for sure. However, due to the backloaded contract he signed last year with Miami (notice a trend starting?), he's due to make $19 million as a 34 year old and $20 million as a 35 year old. $20 million for an aging number 4 pitcher that can't strike anybody out is a steep price.
John Buck has been terrible the last two years after a flukey season in TO a couple years ago. If the Jays are playing him regularly, they have issues, which means John Buck is not much more than a $6.5 million bullpen catcher.
Finally, Emilio Bonifacio is a utility infielder with good speed but not a whole lot else. He's under team control for the next couple seasons and, while useful and reasonably cost effective, he's not going to be a star and probably shouldn't start on a contending team.
So, while the Jays definitely got some big names and talented players, their value is not exactly through the roof. In fact, the only players they got whose contracts are under market value is a pending UFA (Johnson) and a utility infielder (Bonifacio). Meanwhile Buck and Buehrle are woefully overpaid and Reyes will probably end up being overpaid.
Meanwhile, they didn't give up a stack of nobodies. Yunel Escobar may be a head case, but he's also a pretty serviceable middle infielder with a reasonable contract. Hechevarria and Alvarez both look to be useful guys under team control for the next few years but probably won't make the Jays regret making the trade. Jake Marisnick is a bit of a boom or bust prospect that could make the Jays regret this trade down the road and turn into a perennial all star....or he could be Andy Marte. Justin Nicolino is a hard throwing lefty and everyone loves hard throwing lefties, while DeScalfani is a bit far off to accurately project but looks like a potential end of rotation starter. I'm not sure why the Marlins wanted Jeff Mathis.
If you consider things in terms of monetary value, the Marlins made out pretty good here. Hell, they might have won. In exchange for a bunch of players getting paid what they deserve (or more), they got some interesting/useful young players getting paid less than what they're worth. And if you look at it further, two key pieces of the trade weren't even on the Marlins roster last year. They signed Reyes and Buerhle as free agents last year, backloaded their contracts, got one season out of each at under market value, realized they weren't a contender, packaged those two players along with an impending UFA and got a package of 4 or 5 decent to good prospects. That's the kind of shit you used to be able to pull off in GM mode in video games 10 years ago before they adjusted the AI to prevent that shit.
If Jeffery Loria wasn't Jeffrey Loria, this might look like a genius series of moves. But Jeffrey Loria is a cunt and, when you look at the way things have played out, it seems to point to the following series of events:
1.) Jeffrey Loria convinces dumbass Florida politicians to build him brand new stadium, promising to increase payroll and cease firesales in the future. Dumbass Florida politicians believe him, despite the fact he's fucking Jeffrey Loria.
2.) Jeffrey Loria gets brand new, mostly publicly financed stadium despite being a piece of shit. Jeffrey Loria proceeds to make good on his initial promise and sign a bunch of players to above market value contracts. Two keys to each contract: there aren't any no trade clauses and all the contracts are significantly backloaded.
3.) Marlins flounder some out of the gate. Jeffrey Loria, going back on his promise, starts the fire sale, trading Hanley Ramirez and Heath Bell during the season.
4.) Marlins then dump rest of team in trade to Toronto Blue Jays in the offseason. Without no trade clauses and the backloaded contracts, Jeffrey Loria was able to create the illusion of spending, with no risk, and really only being out $24 million, which is a small price to pay for a brand new $634 million stadium. Now their top two highest paid players are Ricky Nolasco ($11.5 mil) and Yunel Escobar ($5 mil).
5.) Jeffrey Loria sits in brand new, publicly built stadium, collecting revenue sharing cheques and spending the least he can on payroll, making asstons of money to his personal account in the process.
6.) Hopefully dumbass politicians that trusted Jeffrey Loria don't get re-elected.
Granted, none of this may matter much to Jays fans if the Jays were to make a World Series run, as the time to strike is probably now. However, if they don't make some sort of run this year or next, expect another 5 or 6 years of trademark Blue Jays mediocrity.
As for Marlins fans........well.....I guess Jeffrey Loria has to die at some point.