Are The Toronto Blue Jays Suddenly A Playoff Team?
Last night's 12-player mega deal that brought Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, and Mark Buehrle from Miami to Toronto sent shock waves throughout the baseball world. How could the Marlins, just a year removed from a brand new ballpark give up on their plan to contend in the NL East? Since last July, Miami has traded away 12 of its 25 players that were on their 2012 opening day roster. In addition to the five players sent to Toronto (John Buck and Emilio Bonifacio were the other two), Hanley Ramirez (Dodgers), Anibal Sanchez (Tigers), and Heath Bell (Diamondbacks) were three other key contributors from last year's Marlins team who are now playing for other clubs.
This trade can be looked at many different ways. From the Miami fan's perspective, the Marlins have once again gutted their team and given up on any chance to compete. Instead of a roster filled with high priced stars, Miami has one great player in Giancarlo Stanton and a bunch of kids. From management's perspective, the Marlins were able to get rid of most of their team payroll, while stockpiling enough young prospects to be able to compete in the next 3-5 years. Maybe if more fans attended games in their brand new ballpark, the ownership group wouldn't have acted so quick to blow up the team.
As for the Blue Jays, this trade suddenly makes them an instant contender for 2013. Last season saw a changing of the guard in the AL East. Although the New York Yankees hung on to win the division, the roster is filled with aging stars whose best years are clearly in the past. The Boston Red Sox had a miserable season, and the team still has too many holes to fill in order to return to the playoffs. Like the Marlins, they dumped three big contracts (Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett) to the Dodgers in order to shed payroll. The teams to watch in the AL East are now the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles. After last night's trade, you can add the Blue Jays to the mix.
Toronto suddenly has a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher in Johnson and a good innings eater in the lefty Buehrle. Reyes takes over at shortstop and will bat at the top of the lineup. His ability to hit for a high average and steal bases is a perfect mix for the Jays. Bonifacio is something of a supersub, since he can play a variety of positions. Buck will give Toronto some added value as backup catcher. They join a team that already has one of the game's best power hitters in Jose Bautista. The only downside in acquiring all of these players is the $150 plus million in contracts. However, the Jays will suddenly be a much more competitive team in the already stacked AL East and a division title is certainly not out of the question.