Toronto Blue Jays Going All-In for 2013 After Marlins Megadeal But Will it Work?

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If their latest megadeal involving the Miami Marlins is any indication, the Toronto Blue Jays are going all-in on next season.

On Wednesday, Toronto took advantage of the Miami Marlins’ latest fire sale, acquiring SS Jose Reyes, LHP Mark Buehrle, RHP Josh Johnson, C John Buck, and IF/OF Emilio Bonifacio in an attempt to bolster their Major League roster.  Essentially, the Blue Jays acquired almost everyone on the Marlins’ roster that made significant money last season.

In exchange, SS Yunal Escobar, RHP Henderson Alvarez, C Jeff Mathis, and minor league prospects Jake Marisnick, Adeiny Hechavarria, Justin Nicolino, and Anthony DeSclafani are all headed to Miami.  Escobar, Alvarez, and Mathis all spent much of last season with the Big League club, while Baseball America rated Marisnick, Hechavarria, and Nicolino among the Blue Jays’ top young prospects.

Although they are coming off a disappointing 73-89 season, Toronto obviously figures that this was the right time to mortgage the future.  And quite frankly, it is hard to argue with that assessment.  The Yankees are aging rapidly and have a roster full of turmoil.  Baltimore is due for a massive regression after winning 11 more games than their run differential would indicate.  Tampa Bay won 90 games last year but appears to be gearing up to reduce payroll.  And the Red Sox are coming off their worst season since 1965.

It has been a long time since the AL East was this wide-open, meaning that now is the time to roll the dice with a big trade.

But how much did this megadeal actually improve the Blue Jays’ Roster?

Reyes is obviously the big addition to the lineup, but much of the value offered by his potent bat is offset by below-average defense at shortstop.  His 2.8 WAR on the year is actually a very small upgrade over the 2.5 that the Blue Jays got out of Escobar’s weak bat and excellent glove last season.  Similarly, the value of Buck (0.4) and Bonifacio (0.5) is nearly identical to what Toronto got out of Mathis (0.8) in 2012.  When everything is added up, the Blue Jays traded away 3.3 WAR from their lineup and got back only 3.7 in return.

On the other hand, Toronto’s pitching could take a major jump forward.  Buehrle (3.2 WAR) and Johnson (3.1) would have rated as two of the three most valuable pitchers on the Blue Jays’ staff last season and represent major upgrades over Alverez (0.1) and whoever else is replaced in the starting rotation. 

Assuming last year’s values are repeated, this trade brings a net increase of 6.6 WAR to the Blue Jays roster at a cost of about $41 million in additional payroll, not factoring in the value of the prospects included in the deal.

In other words, this production would have netted Toronto an 80-82 record in 2012.

This mega trade has sent shockwaves through all of Major League Baseball and has justifiably riled up the Toronto fanbase.  For the first time in what seems like decades, the Blue Jays are big spenders. 

On the other hand, the core of players that the Blue Jays just acquired was originally assembled by Miami last offseason in hopes of improving on a 72-90 record from 2011 – and the Marlins 69-93 record last year.

In other words, as fun as this trade was for Toronto fans, this trade does not instantly transform the Blue Jays into postseason contenders.