Jays go for big changes
MIAMI — The Blue Jays have made a blockbuster trade with the Miami Marlins that will drastically revamp Toronto’s roster.
Toronto has acquired shortstop Jose Reyes, left-hander Mark Buehrle and right-hander Josh Johnson from Miami as part of a mega-deal, a person familiar with the agreement said Tuesday.
The person confirmed the trade to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the teams weren’t officially commenting. The person said the trade sent several of the Blue Jays’ top prospects to Miami.
According to other media reports, infielder Emilio Bonifacio and catcher John Buck have also been traded from the Marlins to Toronto.
Those reports say that in return, the Jays would send a package to Miami that includes shortstops Yunel Escobar and Adeiny Hechavarria, major-league starter Henderson Alvarez, catcher Jeff Mathis and prospects.
“Its a good day to be a bluejay!” tweeted Toronto slugger Jose Bautista.
The deal gave an immediate boost to the Blue Jays, who have not reached the playoffs since winning their second consecutive World Series in 1993.
Toronto went 73-89 this season and finished fourth in the AL East for the fourth straight year, again falling short in a division that includes big spenders.
The additions of Johnson, Buehrle and Reyes will address several roster needs Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos hoped to resolve in the off-season.
Toronto’s 2012 season was marred by a series of injuries that devastated its pitching, particularly the starting rotation.
By the end of the regular season the Blue Jays had lost the services of starters J.A. Happ (fractured right foot), Drew Hutchinson (right UCL sprain), Kyle Drabek (torn right elbow ligament) and Dustin McGowan (Plantar fasciitis, right foot).
Toronto was also lost relievers Luis Perez (torn ligament in left elbow) and Sergio Santos (right shoulder inflammation) to injury.
All six pitchers had been placed on the 60-day disabled list.
Further, starter Jesse Litsch didn’t play at all in 2012 as he recovered from surgery on his right shoulder.
The Blue Jays infield also required some tinkering.
Second baseman Kelly Johnson is expected to leave as a free agent and Escobar, the team’s incumbent shortstop, had been roundly criticized after he wrote a homosexual slur on his eyeblack in Spanish.
Johnson, who led the NL in ERA in 2010, went 8-14 this year with a 3.81 earned-run average for the Marlins, who endured a dismal season in their new ballpark and began dismantling the team in July.
Johnson was limited to nine starts in 2011 because of right shoulder inflammation.
He was named an all-star in 2009 and 2010, the year he led the NL with a 2.30 ERA and finished the season 11-6 after signing a four-year contract worth US$39 million.
Buehrle was a major free agent signing for the Marlins in the 2011 off-season, signing a four-year, $58 million deal on Dec. 7.
He compiled a 13-13 record in Miami, with a 3.74 ERA and 125 strikeouts. In his 13-year career in the majors Buehrle has 174 wins, 132 losses, a 3.82 ERA and 1,521 strikeouts.
Buehrle also pitched MLB’s 18th perfect game, retiring all 27 Tampa BayRays hitters he faced on July 23, 2009.
Reyes hit .287 with 40 steals in 160 games.
Bonifacio finished this year with 30 runs, 11 RBIs and 30 stolen bases while batting .258 in a injury-shortened season. In 2011, he had 78 runs, 36 RBIs and 40 stolen bases with a .296 batting average.
The Marlins have a long history of payroll purges, and in their 20 seasons they have reached the post-season only twice, as wild-card teams in 1997 and 2003. Both times they won the World Series.
Johnson is owed $13.75 million next season. Reyes has $96 million left on a deal expiring in 2018. Buehrle has $52 million remaining on a deal expiring in 2015.
The stunning agreement came less than a year after the Marlins added Reyes, Buehrle and closer Heath Bell in an uncharacteristic $191 million spending binge as they moved into a new ballpark. The acquisitions raised high hopes, but the Marlins instead finished last in the NL East.
The latest paring of salary actually began in July, when the Marlins parted with former NL batting champion Hanley Ramirez, second baseman Omar Infante and right-hander Anibal Sanchez, among others. Bell, the team’s high-profile bust, was traded to Arizona last month.
Under owner Jeffrey Loria, long the target of fan acrimony, the Marlins have usually been among baseball’s thriftiest teams. Management pledged that would change with the new ballpark, but team officials were disappointed with attendance in 2012, and revenue fell far short of their projections.
Even so, the blockbuster deal came as a shock. The players involved must undergo physicals before the trade becomes final.
Giancarlo Stanton, the Marlins’ precocious slugger, wasn’t involved in the deal but wasn’t happy about it.
Stanton said he was mad about the deal “Plain & Simple,” he tweeted shortly after the news broke.
The swap was easier for the Marlins to swing because of their longstanding policy of refusing to include no-trade clauses in contracts.