Author: Matthew Pouliot

Ben Cherington

Red Sox tried and failed to land Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson


The Red Sox were negotiating with the Marlins on a deal that would have sent Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson to Boston before the Jays pulled off the trade that also netted them Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck.

Red Sox owner John Henry told Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that even though the sides were talking, he had no idea “the whole team was available.”

Acquiring Reyes and Johnson would have been a return to old form for a Boston team that traded Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett to the Dodgers in August. It would have added about $24 million to the team’s 2013 payroll, minus any major leaguers that went to Miami in return.

The Red Sox, though, were probably looking at it as though the Marlins would be open to a straight salary dump. The Blue Jays not only took Buehrle’s contract along with the other two, but they sent back three quality prospects in return.

Boston GM Ben Cherington might not be done with the Marlins just yet, though. The Red Sox would be smart to explore a Logan Morrison trade with first base open. They should also be prepared to blow up the minor league system for Giancarlo Stanton if the Marlins have a change of heart and make him available. Finally, they’re one of the teams that could consider Ricky Nolasco and his soon-to-be traded $11.5 million contract, though it seems doubtful they’ll be very aggressive there.

Breaking down the huge Toronto-Miami trade

Jose Reyes

It’s not official yet, but here are some early thoughts on the trade as it’s currently being presented:

Blue Jays acquire SS Jose Reyes, RHP Josh Johnson, LHP Mark Buehrle, INF-OF Emilio Bonifacio, C John Buck and $4 million from the Marlins for SS Yunel Escobar, RHP Henderson Alvarez, SS Adeiny Hechvarria, LHP Justin Nicolino, OF Jake Marisnick, RHP Anthony DeSclafani and C Jeff Mathis.

– Of course, there’s the obvious thought: the Marlins are a joke and owner Jeffrey Loria needs to be forced out of baseball. That still applies.

That said, strictly as a baseball trade, this seems like a pretty good value for them. Reyes and Buehrle really shouldn’t have any trade value at all; the Marlins were the high bidders for both last year and signed them to backloaded contracts. Any time you can sign a free agent to a long-term deal and then trade him a year later, without eating any salary (though the Marlins did eat $4 million here), you’re coming out ahead. The back half of free agent deals are almost always worse than the front half.

Working under that theory, the only two guys in the deal for the Marlins with significant trade value were Johnson, who is one year away from free agency, and Bonifacio, an arbitration-eligible speedster who is an adequate regular at a few positions but not really exceptional anywhere.

In return, the Marlins are getting a cheap No. 3 or 4 starter in Alvarez, a possible long-term shortstop in Hechevarria, two very good prospects who will both probably crack the bottom half of top 100 lists next spring in Nicolino and Marisnick, a possible bullpen arm in DeSclafani and whatever Escobar brings back in trade. That’s pretty good. Better still if catcher Travis d’Arnaud was in there, but that probably would have required eating more salary than the Marlins were willing to do.

If this were a computer simulation, one could make a great argument that the Marlins came out ahead here. Figuring that they weren’t going to contend in 2013 anyway, they might as well start over, tank next year and then try to load up again come 2014 or ’15.

However, this is no computer simulation. The Marlins just took a big ol’ crap on everyone who has supported them in recent years and ticked off their lone remaining star in Giancarlo Stanton. Also, it’s hard to imagine free agents will line up to sign with them, even if they do offer to overpay, after what happened to Reyes, Buehrle and Heath Bell. It’s going to take more than a year or two to recover from this.

– As for the Blue Jays, well, they obviously got a whole lot better. The rotation now lines up as Johnson, Buehrle, Brandon Morrow, Ricky Romero and probably J.A. Happ. Kyle Drabek will return from Tommy John sometime next year, and the team still has some quality pitching prospects behind them.

The lineup could look like:

SS Reyes
2B Bonifacio
RF Jose Bautista
DH/1B Edwin Encarnacion
1B/DH Adam Lind/free agent
3B Brett Lawrie
CF Colby Rasmus
C J.P. Arencibia
LF Free agent/Rajai Davis

With the newly signed Maicer Izturis leading the bench. The Jays could also trade Arencibia for a Lind replacement or a left fielder and then let top prospect Travis d’Arnaud compete with Buck and Bobby Wilson for catching chores in spring training.

The Jays also have plenty of live arms in relief and Sergio Santos making his way back. There’s no doubt that this team should be a contender. Whether it will be will hinge on keeping the arms healthy, especially Johnson’s. That’s an area in which the Blue Jays have had a lot of difficulties.

As is, the Blue Jays look like pretty good bets to claim one of the AL’s five playoff berths next year and those improved odds come at the expense of the Orioles, Rays and Red Sox.

It’s time for Bud Selig to force Jeffrey Loria out of MLB

Jeffrey Loria

Jeffrey Loria has long been on the short list of MLB’s worst owners, but he’s truly outdone himself now by trading Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle, just one year after signing them to long-term deals, along with Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck to the Blue Jays on Tuesday.

Of course, the topper is that the move comes one year after the Marlins opened a new publicly funded stadium in Miami.

Loria amassed his fortune as an art dealer. Now he looks like a scam artist. Certainly the bait-and-switch has rarely been pulled off so artfully.

The Marlins had a $95 million payroll in 2012 after signing a trio of big-name free agents in Reyes, Buehrle and Heath Bell last winter. Now all three are gone, with a combined 10 seasons left on their contracts. Also gone are the team’s two most expensive holdovers in Hanley Ramirez and Johnson.

What’s left is a shell of a franchise, one that will almost certainly have the lowest payroll in baseball. More importantly, it will have no credibility in the eyes of its employees or fans. It’s lone remaining star, Giancarlo Stanton, has already expressed his anger. It’s hard to imagine him ever signing a long-term deal with the club, which could mean he’ll be the big name to go next winter.

Loria has now entered two markets and all but wrecked baseball for both of them. It’s in the best interests of the game that he exit for good. Commissioner Bud Selig should step in and apply as much pressure as he legally can in order to get Loria to sell. Otherwise, Loria and the deal that allowed him to trade the Montreal Expos for the Marlins will go down as black marks on Selig’s legacy.

Bob Melvin scores narrow AL Manager of the Year victory

Bob Melvin

Just as it should have been, Oakland’s Bob Melvin and Baltimore’s Buck Showalter claimed the top two spots on all 28 AL Manager of the Year ballots. Melvin, though, scored the win with 16 first-place votes to Showalter’s 12.

Rookie manager Robin Ventura of the White Sox came in third place with 12 third-place votes. Joe Maddon was fourth, followed by Joe Girardi. Jim Leyland and Ron Washington were named on two ballots apiece.

Melvin’s Athletics went 94-68 to win the AL West in his first full year at the helm. He replaced Bob Geren in June 2011 with the team off to a 27-36 start and then went 47-52 the rest of the way for a 74-88 finish.

Melvin also won the NL Manager of the Year award with the Diamondbacks in 2007, so he joins Davey Johnson, Tony La Russa, Jim Leyland, Bobby Cox and Lou Piniella as managers to win in both leagues.

That’s pretty good company for a manager whose lifetime winning percentage is .502 (634-628) in nine seasons.

Davey Johnson named National League Manager of the Year

St Louis Cardinals v Washington Nationals - Game Five

Fresh off his new one-year deal and retirement announcement, the Nationals’ Davey Johnson claimed 23 of the 32 first-place votes to win his first National League Manager of the Year award on Tuesday.

Johnson also won the American League award with the Orioles in 1997. He’s the first Expos/Nationals manager to win the award since Felipe Alou in the strike-shortened 1994 season.

Johnson’s Nationals won 98 games in his first year of the helm, 18 more than in 2011. The team lost the NLDS in five games to the Cardinals.

The Reds’ Dusty Baker finished second to Johnson, claiming five first-place votes. The Giants’ Bruce Bochy got four first-place votes and finished in third place.

According to the BBWAA, Johnson joins Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa, Jim Leyland and Lou Piniella as the only managers to win the award in both leagues.