The American League East just got even tougher

As if the American League East wasn’t tough enough, with the Yankees competing with the Orioles, Rays, and even for a time the Red Sox last year, now they have to contend with the Blue Jays as well.

The Blue Jays pulled off a trade last night, which is still not official, that sent Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio, John Buck, and $4 million from the Miami Marlins up to Toronto in exchange for Jeff Mathis, Yunel Escobar, Adeiny Hechavarria, Henderson Alvarez, and three minor leaguers.

This immediately makes the Blue Jays a contender even in a tough division. The Jays rotation now consists of Johnson, Buehrle, Brandon Morrow, and Ricky Romero, with J.A. Happ pulling up the rear and Kyle Drabek contributing once he returns from Tommy John Surgery.

This is a rotation that rivals the Yankees and Rays and is certainly better than the Orioles and Red Sox. backing them up is a pretty strong lineup:

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Reyes, SS
Bonifacio, 2B
Jose Bautista, RF
Edwin Encarnacion, DH
Adam Lind 1B
Brett Lawrie, 3B
Colby Rasmus, CF
John Buck, C
Rajai Davis, LF

The Jays aren’t done either. With Buck in place, they could choose to trade J.P. Arencibia or Adam Lind for another starter or even another offensive upgrade. They also have Maicer Izturis sitting on the bench which means they could get creative with how and where they use Bonifacio.

This was a great trade for the Blue Jays who didn’t give up any talent that they will need to compete with in 2013. Hechavarria is a nice piece, but certainly expendable for an upgrade of this magnitude.

Most importantly, they didn’t have to give up big names like Lawrie, Rasmus, Morrow, or Drabek, who certainly could have been included in a deal of this magnitude if the Marlins cared about winning.

Speaking of the Marlins, there are a lot of people out there that are upset that they’ve had another fire sale. It’s certainly a travesty and their owner Jeffrey Loria is clearly running the team with the bottom line in mind without any regard for winning. As it stands right now, before they re-sign their arbitration eligible players, their payroll is only $20.5 million. That’s less than three different Yankees make alone.

This shouldn’t have come as such a shock as people are treating it though. Looking at the contracts there was a clear indication that they planned on doing this. Reyes signed a six-year, $106 million deal last year that was completely back loaded. They were also aggressive in trying to sign Albert Pujols, but ultimately fell short when they refused to include a no-trade clause. No trade clauses were absent from Buehrle’s and Heath Bell‘s deals. Considering Loria’s past history, this was a giant red flag for me at the time and a deal like this was expected.

This wasn’t a terrible baseball move for the Marlins. Their team was garbage and they weren’t going to compete in 2013 and probably 2014 either once Johnson walked away via free agency. They also got a couple of good prospects from the Blue Jays. Still, I would imagine there are 29 other teams that are not enjoying watching Loria pocked all the revenue sharing without spending a dime of it on the team.

The Marlins barely gave competing a chance. They started with a bad team in 2011, spent a lot of money in one offseason, and when it didn’t immediately work they jumped ship. This fire sale really started in July when they dumped Anibal Sanchez and continued early this offseason when they dumped Bell. They didn’t try to built something and then when it failed, try to rebuild. They gave a halfhearted effort and then cashed in their chips the first chance they got.

But as Yankees fans, we don’t need to spend too much time dwelling on how the Marlins screwed baseball, their fans, and the people of Miami, we need to worry about how the Yankees are going to compete with the suddenly tough Toronto Blue Jays.

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8 Responses to The American League East just got even tougher

  1. turk says:

    ……the blue jays haven't turned into the 61 yankees…jose reyes has yet to prove he can play a meaningful role on a championship team.

    • Fred says:

      Reyes is the third most important piece in this deal. The Blue Jays are contenders now because of the massive upgrade to their pitching. The offense was always decent when Bautista was healthy

  2. Tdot says:

    Blue jay fans probably cannot wait for the season to start and they have every right to be. Toronto is a huge market and for them to contend is a good thing for baseball. It's a very good trade for both teams especially toronto as first of all they can afford the money involved and they didn't have to give up a lot of their top top talent in the deep farm system. Escobar HAD to go after the eye black debacle, Alvarez struggles with AL east bats because he's a power pitcher who doesn't get strikeouts, Mathis is expendable, Hechavarria is a real top talent and i think he's the one player who could become a superstar in a few years and have jays fan regretting this trade but to get talent, you have to give up talent. Nicolino and the other prospects are just that, prospects. What the jays got fills a lot of holes on their team, Reyes is arguably the best shortstop in the league when healthy while JJ and Burhle are 200 inning guys. A rotation of JJ, Burhle, Morrow, Romero, Happ and a stacked bullpen makes this team as well as the AL east very exciting to watch.We'll have to wait and see but there's risk rewards on both sides of this trade. Excellent baseball trade – One team trading for now and the other trading for the future.

  3. Flinx57 says:

    Given the fact that Arencibia has yet to be traded and Colby Rasmus has proven he hits quite well in front of Jose Bautista your envisioned lineup is idiotic. Lind should not be hitting 5th until he proves himself and will likely start the season batting 7th. This will make the lineup more realistic with Reyes, Rasmus, Bautista, Encarnacio, Arencibia, Lawrie, Lind and then 8th will be a toss up between Bonifacio and Izturis the same will go for 9th as Davis and Gose will be fighting it out to start there or be the major outfield sub.
    Buck is the backup catcher and may only be in Toronto for this year or until d' Arnaud is ready after his rehabilitation in AAA which should be about half the season. Also Buck has proven himself to be more of a back up catcher except for that one year here in Toronto in 2010 he has failed to prove himself before then and after being here in Toronto.

    As for the Pitching Morrow is now that ace of the team as Romero lost the job due to a failed 2012 season and could get dropped as low as 3rd or 4th if he struggles out of the gate but for the time being you can slot him into the 2 spot. Johnson will pick up 3rd and Buehrle obviously goes 4th with Happ bringing up the rear. As for Drabek, Hutchison and McGowan it will be at least a full year before the first two show that their arms are back to normal and as for McGowan he is the long shot for either the bullpen or the 5th spot as this will be his last kick at the can so to speak.
    Myself and a lot of the Jays fans hope that this is his year of the comeback after having to put up with over 4 years of pain, surgery and rehabilitation.

    • The rotation order and lineup is arbitrary. I just came up with it on the spot. It can be any order you like and it's not going to make much of a difference. You want Arencebia starting over Buck that's fine too. You missed the entire point if you are focused on that.

  4. Mike Sommer says:

    The Yanks better watch out or they can slip to fourth place in the division and fast. As much as we love certain players, there is no escaping the fact that they are an OLD team.

  5. Tanned Tom says:

    I'm still hoping Selig takes his thumb out of his butt and vetoes this deal.