Marlins Deal Five Vets In 12-Player Trade With Jays

The Deal
If anything in this life is certain, if the Marlins have taught us anything, it is that you can trade anyone. Yet even Michael Corleone would be shocked at how quickly the Fish have thrown back shortstop Jose Reyes and lefthander Mark Buehrle—two free agents they purchased for a combined $164 million a year ago—as well as catcher John Buck, a free agent buy for $18 million two years ago. Miami packaged that trio along with ace righthander Josh Johnson, center fielder Emilio Bonifacio and $4 million to the Blue Jays, receiving shortstop Yunel Escobar, righty Henderson Alvarez, catcher Jeff Mathis and four prospects, three of whom ranked among our recently-published Toronto Top 10.

Heading to the Marlins to round out the trade are center fielder Jake Marisnick (No. 2 prospect), lefty Justin Nicolino (No. 5), shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (No. 8) and righty Anthony DeSclafani. Two of them could contribute in Miami in 2013—Hechavarria has big league experience, while Marisnick spent the second half of this season in Double-A.

Since July, the Marlins have shed 12 veterans (and their veteran salaries), including Buehrle, Bonifacio, Buck, Johnson and Reyes in this deal and closer Heath Bell in an October three-team deal. Miami’s activity at the 2012 trade deadline jettisoned righthander Anibal Sanchez and second baseman Omar Infante to the Tigers (for Jacob Turner and Rob Brantly), third baseman Hanley Ramirez and lefty reliever Randy Choate to the Dodgers (for Nate Eovaldi and Scott McGough), reliever Edward Mujica to the Cardinals (for Zack Cox) and first baseman Gaby Sanchez to the Pirates (for Gorkys Hernandez and a competitive-balance draft pick).

The Marlins’ wheeling-and-dealing has a big impact on the club’s payroll for 2013. Anibal Sanchez and Choate are free agents, but the other 10 traded players would have been owed approximately $73.6 million in salary for the upcoming season—and that’s before factoring potential arbitration raises for Bonifacio, Mujica and Gaby Sanchez (if he qualifies). So if we assume that Miami fills those roster spots with players making the minimum ($490,000), and if we credit them for the $12 million they sent to the Blue Jays and Diamondbacks (with Bell) to facilitate trades, that still works out to a payroll savings of roughly $56.7 million for the upcoming season.

 
Marlins Acquire
Jake Marisnick, cf

Age: 21. Born: March 30, 1991 in Tampa.

Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 200.

Bats: R. Throws: R.

School: Poly HS, Riverside, Calif.

Career Transactions: Selected by Blue Jays in third round of 2009 draft; signed Aug. 17, 2009.

 

Club (League) Class AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OBP SLG
Dunedin (FSL) HiA .263 65 266 41 70 18 7 6 35 26 55 10 .349 .451
New Hampshire (EL) AA .233 55 223 25 52 11 3 2 15 11 45 14 .286 .336

Marisnick has the potential to be a five-tool player, though questions linger about his bat. He has made adjustments to eliminate a hitch in his swing, but still has a big frame that leads to a long stroke with a lot of moving parts. It’s hard to find fault with the rest of Marisnick’s package. His strength and ability to backspin the ball give him plus power. His speed, center-field defense and arm strength all grade as above-average. He has a knack for stealing bases, succeeding on 84 of 100 pro attempts. Even if he loses a step, he’ll easily fit the profile for right field. [Nathan Rode]

 
Justin Nicolino, lhp

Age: 20. Born: Nov. 22, 1991 in Orlando.

Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 160.

Bats: L. Throws: L.

School: University HS, Orlando

Career Transactions: Selected by Blue Jays in second round of 2010 draft; signed Aug. 7, 2010.

 

Club (League) Class W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Lansing (MWL) LoA 10 4 2.46 28 22 0 124 112 41 34 6 21 119 1.07

Nicolino spots a fastball that sits at 88-92 mph and touches 94 to both sides of the plate, unafraid to come inside on hitters. His best pitch is a plus changeup that he sells with deceptive arm speed. He gets under his changeup at times but had the aptitude to make corrections quickly. He needs to stay on top of his curveball too, but it’s a solid third pitch with good shape. Though there’s some crossfire to his delivery, Nicolino typically throws all three pitches for strikes. [N.R.]

 
Adeiny Hechavarria, ss/2b

Age: 23. Born: April 15, 1989 in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.

Ht.: 5-11. Wt.: 180.

Bats: R. Throws: R.

Career Transactions: Signed as nondrafted free agent by Blue Jays, April 13, 2010.

 

Club (League) Class AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OBP SLG
Las Vegas (PCL) AAA .312 102 443 78 138 20 6 6 63 38 86 8 .363 .424
Toronto (AL) MLB .254 41 126 10 32 8 0 2 15 4 32 0 .280 .365

Hechavarria has plus range, hands and arm strength, though he’s prone to throwing errors because he tends to flip the ball to first base. He’s also an above-average runner though not a prolific basestealer. Scouts still aren’t sold on his offensive ability, however. He has a simple swing and some bat speed but is still learning how to put together professional at-bats. While he’s strong and has some gap power, he doesn’t project as a home run threat. [N.R.]

 
Anthony DeSclafani, rhp

Age: 22. Born: Apr 18, 1990 in Freehold, N.J.

Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 195.

Bats: R. Throws: R.

School: Florida.

Career Transactions: Selected by Blue Jays in sixth round of 2011 draft; signed Aug. 15, 2011.

Club (League) Class W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Lansing (MWL) LoA 11 3 3.37 28 21 0 123 145 55 46 3 25 92 1.38

DeSclafini sat 93-96 mph and showed feel for a slider as a reliever at Florida, prompting the Blue Jays to go slightly above slot to sign him for $250,000. He acclimated himself fine to a starting role in low Class A, inducing groundballs with a lively 92-94 mph sinker and showing occasional flashes of an average cutter and changeup. Scouts see him as a middle reliever at the major league level because he lacks a swing-and-miss pitch.

 
Yunel Escobar, ss

Age: 29. Bats: R. Remaining Commitment: 1 year, $5 million (plus club options for $5 million in both 2014 and 2015).

All contract details courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

Club (League) Year AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OBP SLG
Toronto (AL) 2012 .253 145 558 58 141 22 1 9 51 35 70 5 .300 .344
3-Year Totals

.266 413 1568 195 417 65 4 24 134 152 197 14 .335 .358
 
Henderson Alvarez, rhp

Age: 22. Remaining Commitment: Under club control for five more seasons, 2013-17 ($482,900 salary in 2012).

 

Club (League) Year W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Toronto (AL) 2012 9 14 4.85 31 31 0 187 216 110 101 29 54 79 1.44
3-Year Totals

10 17 4.52 41 41 0 251 280 136 126 37 62 119 1.36

No big league starter who qualified for the ERA title in 2012 had a lower strikeout rate (3.8 per nine innings) than Alvarez. That seems incongruous with his average fastball velocity of 93.3 mph, which ranked ninth highest among that same group. His trouble stems from a wide platoon split—lefties battered him for a .312/.372/.512 line over 404 at-bats—which the Marlins may believe they can even out. Or maybe they project a future in the bullpen for Alvarez, a fastball/changeup righthander.

 
Jeff Mathis, c

Age: 29. Bats: R. Remaining Commitment: 2 years, $3 million (with $1.5 million option for 2015).

 

Club (League) Year AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OBP SLG
Toronto (AL) 2012 .218 70 211 25 46 13 0 8 27 9 68 1 .249 .393
3-Year Totals

.195 231 663 62 129 31 1 14 67 30 202 5 .230 .308
 
Blue Jays Acquire
Josh Johnson, rhp

Age: 28. Remaining Commitment: 1 year, $13.75 million.

All contract details courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

Club (League) Year W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Miami (NL) 2012 8 14 3.81 31 31 0 191 180 84 81 14 65 165 1.28
3-Year Totals

22 21 2.87 68 68 0 435 374 148 139 23 133 407 1.16
 
Mark Buehrle, lhp

Age: 33. Remaining Commitment: 3 years, $48 million.

 

Club (League) Year W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Miami (NL) 2012 13 13 3.74 31 31 0 202 197 88 84 26 40 125 1.17
3-Year Totals

39 35 3.87 95 95 0 618 664 286 266 64 134 333 1.29
 
Jose Reyes, ss

Age: 29. Bats: B. Remaining Commitment: 5 years, $92 million (plus $4 million buyout of 2018 option).

 

Club (League) Year AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OBP SLG
Miami (NL) 2012 .287 160 642 86 184 37 12 11 57 63 56 40 .347 .433
3-Year Totals

.301 419 1742 270 524 97 38 29 155 137 160 109 .350 .450
 
Emilio Bonifacio, cf/2b

Age: 27. Bats: B. Remaining Commitment: Under club for two more seasons, 2013-14 ($2.2 million salary in 2012).

Club (League) Year AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OBP SLG
Miami (NL) 2012 .258 64 244 30 63 3 4 1 11 25 52 30 .330 .316
3-Year Totals

.280 289 989 138 277 35 14 6 57 101 223 82 .345 .362
 
John Buck, c

Age: 31. Bats: R. Remaining Commitment: 1 year, $6 million.

 

Club (League) Year AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OBP SLG
Miami (NL) 2012 .192 106 343 29 66 15 1 12 41 49 103 0 .297 .347
3-Year Totals

.236 364 1218 123 287 55 2 48 164 119 329 0 .310 .402

Impact on Blue Jays depth chart: Johnson and Buehrle ought to do wonders to fortify a Toronto rotation that allowed a 4.82 ERA in 2012, when only the Royals, Red Sox, Indians and Twins fared worse. Reyes represents a massive upgrade on Escobar both on the field and in the clubhouse, and the length of his contract mitigates the need to hang onto Hechavarria for depth. Bonifacio may dust off his infielder’s glove and replace free agent Kelly Johnson at second base, while Buck will team with J.P. Arencibia to keep the catcher position warm for top prospect Travis d’Arnaud, who probably will begin the season with Triple-A Buffalo.

 

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