At some point, when this all becomes official, you’d like to think the kid from Town of Mount Royal will sit back, take a deep breath and have a quiet chuckle when he thinks about taking advantage of Jeffrey Loria.
Or at least see the irony of the man who helped expedite the Montreal Expos’ departure from his hometown now being forced by fiscal reality into addressing 90 per cent of the Toronto Blue Jays’ off-season questions in one move.
All of which is permissible, because it’s time to live in the moment if you’re Alex Anthopoulos, who parted ways with a good deal of his organization’s future on Tuesday in a dizzying, 12-player trade with the Miami Marlins, leaving the documents sitting on the desk of baseball commissioner Bud Selig.
When this is all said and done, franchise owner Loria will be explaining to Marlins season-ticket holders why one year after getting a new ballpark, he has ripped the guts out of his major-league roster.
Anthopoulos, meanwhile, will be trumpeting the acquisition in shortstop Jose Reyes of the most electric player the Blue Jays have had since Roberto Alomar; a pair of starting pitchers in Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle who would have been Nos. 1 and 2 in the Blue Jays rotation this season even with a fully healthy Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow; and, in infielder/outfielder Emilio Bonifacio, a complement to fellow switch-hitter Reyes that will give the Jays a top of the order that will send shivers down the spines of the American League.
Catcher John Buck replaces Jeff Mathis – significant because Buck has mentored J.P. Arencibia in the past, and because he is easier to move in a future 1-for-1 deal than Mathis would be, because he is more accomplished offensively.
Reyes had 60 extra-base hits and 40 steals in 51 attempts last season, and has averaged 110 runs and 55 steals in his 10-year career. Healthy, he is a player whose offensive game is improved by the artificial turf at the Rogers Centre.
Johnson had a career-high 3.81 earned-run average in 2012, but his career 162-game average is 3.15, to go along with 190 strikeouts and 209 innings.
Buehrle has tossed at least 200 innings for 12 consecutive seasons and is a veteran of the AL wars from his time with the Chicago White Sox.
Financially, the Blue Jays are picking up five guaranteed years of Reyes at a total of $96-million (U.S.). That includes $22-million per year from 2015-17 and a $4-million buyout of a $22-million option year in 2018. In other words, if Reyes sees out his contract, it will cost the Blue Jays $114-million.
Buehrle, meanwhile, has three years and $51-million left (his salary goes from $12-million in 2013, to $19-million in 2014, and $20-million in 2015), while Johnson will be eligible for free agency after next season, when he earns $13.75-million.
If Wednesday was Opening Day, the Blue Jays payroll would be a shade over $110-million. And fans would be talking playoffs.
And make no mistake: It is an unfortunate reality that, for the Blue Jays, the optics of this trade and the approximately $170-million in future commitment depend in no small measure on the money, coming as it does a year after the organization mismanaged its involvement in the posting process for Japanese free-agent pitcher Yu Darvish.
Yet, here was Anthopoulos, landing two of last winter’s premier free-agents (Reyes and Buehrle) a year later, after Loria and the Marlins did all the heavy lifting, including – bless them – holding firm to a club policy of not giving out no-trade clauses that made all this possible.
Too bad, however, about that lousy revenue projection, which sources say put the Marlins in Selig’s crosshairs late in the 2012 season.
How could a son of Montreal pass this up? Merci, Monsieur Loria.
We’ll enjoy this now, and hope that our instincts about Adeiny Hechavarria and Justin Nicolino are wrong.
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