This photo combo made from file photos shows Miami Marlins
players, from left, pitcher Mark Buehrle, shortstop Jose Reyes and
pitcher Josh Johnson. Miami traded the three players to the Toronto Blue
Jays, a person familiar with the agreement said Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012.
The trade still hasn't been made official as of Monday morning.
AP FILE PHOTOS
As of Monday morning, there had been a one-week delay in the official announcement of the mega 12-player deal between the Blue Jays
and the Marlins causing much angst among Jays’ supporters that maybe
commissioner Bud Selig was going to step in and veto the trade in the
“best interests of baseball.”
The only time that particular power
of the office was used was when then-commissioner Bowie Kuhn did it in
1976 to veto a move by the A’s to dismantle his team for cash. Maverick
owner Charles O. Finley attempted to sell stars Joe Rudi and Rollie
Fingers to the Red Sox and Vida Blue to the Yankees.
A Chicago insurance magnate whose de
facto GM was once a kid working as help in the clubhouse, who went on to
gain fame as MC Hammer, Finley was upset with the new concept of free
agency after losing Catfish Hunter in the first year of the modern
process in the winter of 1975-76. The attempted Finley fire-sale was a
protest against the system from an owner that had won three straight
World Series from 1972-74 and liked doing his own thing. Kuhn stepped in
and stopped the sale.
But this Jays-Marlins deal has none
of those markings. Selig admitted that the Marlins received good young
talent in return. The true issue here is believed to be about money,
taxes and broken promises. The Marlins are believed to be sending $8
million over along with Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, John
Buck and Emilio Bonifacio.
The two Marlins players that signed
free agent deals prior to the 2011 season, Reyes and Buehrle, both
insisted that owner Jeffrey Loria had given them verbal promises that
they would not be traded. The organization’s policy is to never offer
no-trade clauses, but their agents now insist that because of the trade
to a Canadian-based team their clients will be losing many millions in
taxes by playing in Toronto instead of Miami. The state of Florida has
no personal income tax and has always been a popular state of residency
for professional athletes.
The very real tax differential will
be worked out and made good by someone, but the question is who will pay
for it and how it affects the fine-tuning of the deal. Player agents
could have known this might happen. The Marlins have had 11 players sign
deals of three-plus seasons since Loria took over. Among that group,
five have been traded after one season — Buehrle, Reyes, Paul LoDuca,
Heath Bell and Carlos Delgado. Three others have been traded after their
second season — Buck, Mike Lowell and Luis Castillo. Of course Reyes
and Buehrle couldn’t have known they would be in that group, but the
fact that the Marlins back-end load most contracts — the lion’s share
becomes someone else’s responsibility — and the fact they refuse to
include no-trade should raise enough red flags.
The repeating modus operandi,
consistent throughout their history, was enough warning for David
Sloane, Delgado’s long-time friend and agent, who was wined and dined by
Loria and David Samson after Carlos was railroaded out of Toronto.
After one season in Miami, Delgado was dealt to the Mets where he ended
his career. New York State offers a significant tax bite for the
wealthy. Sloane now points to his blog that outlines his Delgado
strategy, how it would have helped Reyes and Buehrle.
“With the current trade between the
Marlins & Blue Jays, the deal I negotiated with the Marlins in 2004
for Carlos looks even better. When the Marlins refused to include a ‘no
trade’ clause (back then), I insisted that they agree to unique language
that gave Carlos some protection in the event of a trade.
“The deal I negotiated contained a
guarantee that if he was traded to a team that resided in a state that
had a state income tax, the team he was traded to would make him whole.”
In other words he would net out the
same amount he would have received had he remained in Florida, a state
with NO state income tax. This had NEVER been done in MLB before. BTW,
the amount Delgado saved on a contract signed EIGHT years ago is roughly
“The agents for Jose’ Reyes (Peter
Greenberg, now part of Legacy Group), Mark Buehrle (CAA Jeff Berry),
Josh Johnson (Sosnick/Cobbe), Emilio Bonifacio (Paul Kinzer who was
recently fired from Wasserman Sports), John Buck (Aces) didn’t protect
their clients as well as I protected Delgado. They will literally pay
the price for being represented by agents who do a better job of
recruiting Players than they do of representing them.”
You don’t often see such blunt
agent-to-agent shots. An announcement the Jays-Marlins trade has been
completed will be made soon. It was a solid baseball trade even though
John Farrell’s Red Sox have smugly let it be known that they could have
made that deal and chose not to. On to the mailbag.
Q. Hello Richard,
A Toronto sports fan who is
excited for the new baseball season to start. Looking for your opinion
around the catching position for the Jays, assuming Alex has yet to do
anything by the time you read this, I wonder which combo will give the
Jays the best chance of contending? While Travis D’Arnaud has lots of
upside, he has zero experience in the big leagues, catcher is such an
important role for a team, I wonder if trading J.P. Arencibia gives the
Jays the best chance to compete.
Thank you for your time.
Ivan Yung, Mississauga
A. Behind the plate, the Jays
have Arencibia, John Buck and Bobby Wilson, all with major-league
experience and after that they have D’Arnaud, an Eastern League MVP in
2011, who was playing at an all-star level in the PCL in 2012 until
injured with two months remaining in the Vegas season. That is a good
position of strength for the organization. That being said, it would be
difficult for the Jays to enter a season in which they are expecting to
compete for the AL East with a rookie behind the plate in D’Arnaud. Sure
the Giants did it in 2010 with Buster Posey, but how many Buster Poseys
To me, it seems the Jays have no
immediate plans to deal Arencibia to another team, however the
acquisition of the veteran Buck from the Marlins allows for that faint
possibility of a J.P. trade because Buck has more experience as an
everyday catcher than does Jeff Mathis. If Arencibia was traded — and
the deal would have to be really good — Buck could start until D’Arnaud
was ready to take over.
The fact that D’Arnaud missed about
200 much-needed at-bats in 2012 and perhaps even a late-season call-up
to get his feet wet, or the month he would have played in the majors in
place of an injured Arencibia in July and August, changes the catching
landscape entering 2013. Anthopoulos cannot make the significant moves
that he has made and then go with a rookie catcher right away on Opening
Day. All this changes after a month or two in ’13 with a healthy
D’Arnaud at AAA-Buffalo.
Q. Confession of a fair-weather
fan. Isn’t that what they call you when you lose daily interest in your
team after they stop winning? Is this not too harsh if a generation goes
by before your team shows any potential to be relevant late into a
season? I don’t mean winning a pennant or World Series, or division
title or one of . . . how many wild card spots now on hand. I mean
challenging in a meaningful way for any postseason entertainment
throughout a September stretch run.
Pat Gillick’s Blue Jay teams
showed the formula. It wasn’t complicated, was it? Spending the most
gives your team the most chances. The Jays did that (in the early ’90s).
They even perfected the rent to buy system that brought in key talent
for stretch drives like Rickey Henderson, David Cone and others. It did
not win us a lot of friends but as locals what did we care? It was not
Labatt was a heck of an owner and
what happened next could not be blamed on the brewery. They were bought
out by a Belgian brewery who did not share Labatt’s commitment in the
longterm benefits of public relations through professional team
governance. But the sale to Rogers seemed like a perfect fit. They owned
a sports network and already held the discretionary entertainment
resources of an entire nation. Who has a TV/cable bill that is less than
$200 a month?
Surely an age spoiler, but I
remember when the cost of TV was the $500 you paid for your RCA 26-inch
colour television. If we didn’t have the left over scratch to actually
attend a game, at least we could watch them in the prison of our home
entertainment centre. But Rogers failed to be that guy. They sat on
their hands for a decade and other than renaming the Sky Dome after
themselves, did little to alter the lengthy morass Jay ambition became.
If the team was not interested in competing, why should fans care. . .
and they didn’t.
But this changed last Tuesday.
Josh Johnson and Mark Buerhle may turn out to be nothing more promising
than innings eaters. But every team needs them. No one needs that more
than the Blue Jays, if you will recall last year, and the one before
that, and the one . . . you get the idea. Jose Reyes will remind us of
the glory days in middle infield and whether the others make significant
contributions is rather beside the point. The owners at long last have
gone all in, and that is already meaningful to this fan, and surely
others who have been waiting for the better part of two decades for the
return of fair weather. And this literally just in, that the Jays just
signed Melky Cabrera . . . as I was saying. Hey if money is no object
suddenly why not buy back Doc to repay him for 10 years of loyalty.
Bill Barlow, Toronto
A. That’s an interesting take on the
history of the Jays since the World Series years. I agree that as much
as the talent of the new players themselves is a renewed perception of
the Blue Jays as a team and Toronto as a thriving franchise around
baseball. The average North American baseball fan had surely become
confused after all those years of being told that the Jays were in a
small market that could not afford to compete. One of the main factors
that made the Jays a small market for those years was the 65-cent
Canadian dollar when it came to paying free agent players and keeping
their own stars. That is no longer a problem and since Rogers is looking
to maximize its “content” on multiple media platforms, the better the
baseball product, the more wireless live-sports upgrades they can sell.
Win means win-win. As for Roy Halladay, don’t be surprised if
Anthopoulos has not at least called the Phils and in the course of any
conversation with Ruben Amaro, Jr., found out what it would take to
repatriate Doc. It’s just the way AA operates and does not mean it will
ever happen. As I facetiously tweeted earlier, as long as you’re talking
about bringing back former personnel, at the end of the 2013 season,
assuming the Jays have competed hard and had success, AA should call the
Red Sox and ask for permission to talk to John Farrell. Then when he
gets JF on the line just say, “Blow me” and hang up.
Q. Hello Richard,
I was just wondering that with the
Argos lease up after this CFL season, will the Blue Jays management
decide to install a dirt infield at the Rogers Centre? What do you think
is the likelihood of a decision like this? With this mega-trade
complete soon I’m concerned whether Reyes is satisfied with playing on
turf, having battled leg injuries in the past, do you see this as a
potential problem for the Blue Jays in the years to come?
A. I have forever been a proponent of
installing real grass at the Rogers Centre, ever since the Diamondbacks
joined the NL and showed that it can be done at an indoor facility with
a retractable roof. When not in use, Chase Field has ultra-violet lamps
trained on the grass to simulate natural sunlight. It can be done. The
Jays and the Rays are the only two stadiums with artificial turf. At
least Tampa has an all-dirt infield that makes it aesthetically look
like a real baseball field.
Even though grass should happen at
the RC, it won’t because of the Jays’ recurring excuse of drainage,
irrigation and multi-use for the stadium, concerts, trade shows and the
like. It would take an entire off-season to install. However they should
compromise and do the all-dirt infield thing. That would be a start
towards a real baseball feel and would make it easier on the legs of
talented veteran infielders with a history of hamstring woes like Jose
Reyes. His wonky hammies will be an issue at some point next summer. As
for Jays’ fans, how many times has a visiting team rested one of their
star players because of the artificial turf, robbing Jays fans of a
chance to see the best that day. It happens far too often.
Q. Are Maicer Izturis and Emilio
Bonifacio both better hitters than Lind??If yes, is Bonafacio as good of
an outfielder as Bautista or (Melky)? If yes, then wouldn’t it be
better to have EE=DH, Jose or Melky at 1st, Izturis at 2nd, and
Bonafacio at RF/LF??? Then we don’t have to see Adam Lind . . .
Breezy Stafford, New Orleans, LA
A. I think it’s an intriguing thought
to have Bautista at first base and move Edwin to full-time DH again.
Joey Bats was forced into playing first base a couple of times early
last season, especially in the opening series in Cleveland, and showed
natural leadership by taking charge of the infield defences in bunt
situations, etc. It’s always an option, especially if the Jays were to
deal Adam Lind and not land a veteran, fulltime DH. Encarnacion turned
into a decent first baseman mainly because he does not have to throw the
ball across the diamond. There would be ways to take advantage of
Bautista’s strong throwing arm at first base. Former Gold Glove first
baseman Keith Hernandez was used by the Cards and the Mets as the main
cutoff man on balls into the right-field corner with a runner at first
base. He would head to the edge of the outfield grass and become the
relay man for throws to the plate. If Lind is back it will be as the
left-handed DH. Rajai Davis could be the right-handed half of DH.
Having covered the Expos, you know
Tim Wallach, you know what kind of person he is. You will not find a
better managerial candidate. He knows how to manage, he is a players
type manager and one that works well with the front office. He is the
best man for this JOB!!
John Mo, Scottsdale, AZ
A. I did not cover the Expos, I was a
public relations guy with Wallach at the Expos and he is one of the
five favourite players that I worked with in almost 23 years there.
However, I also remember sitting at a restaurant in Chicago on an
off-day with a distinguished group that included Expos’ hitting coach
Hal McRae, Wallach and Don Zimmer, who was a Cubs coach at the time.
Over the course of the light-hearted conversation, Eli was making fun of
players that continued to stay in uniform after their playing careers
were over. The Expos’ third baseman said when he retired he would go
home and play golf the rest of his life. He was saving his money for
just that. The wizened McRae laughed and pushed the B.S. button on
Wallach, saying after a couple of years of playing golf, he would be
begging for a job back in baseball. McRae was right. It did not take
that long. Wallach has three sons, one in the Dodgers’ organization, one
in the Cubs’ system and one at his alma mater, Cal. St.-Fullerton as a
catcher. You are right about Wallach as a person. As a players’ manager
there would be few better.
Q. Hi Richard,
Just an observation regarding
Reyes playing on turf: he’s a shortstop. He’s typically positioned over
the dirt portion of the infield. Isn’t the turf-grass comparison
Mike A, Toronto
A. It would be if the Jays actually had a dirt portion of the infield.
Q. Hi Richard:
It’s probably safe to say that my
last (post-blockbuster trade) question was premature. The Melky Cabrera
signing and the rumour mill indicate loud and clear that AA is not done
reworking the lineup. Looking forward to seeing what’s next. Exciting
Matthew McKean, Ottawa
A. I think that sums up the feelings of the majority of Jays fans. Exciting times.
Q. Hi Richard,
I am a bit puzzled by this huge
trade and the positive buzz that it is getting. As much as we all want a
winner in Toronto in any sport, I wonder if this move is any different
than the Riccardi era moves. Jose Reyes at five years and $96 million
would not be lauded as a great free agent deal nor would Mark Buehrle at
three years, $48M. Health will be the likely deciding factor. At this
point we might as well go for it. Do you think that a combination of
Colby Rasmus and J.P. Arencibia plus a high prospect would pry David
Price or Jeremy Hellickson from Tampa?
Matt Meisner, St. Catharines
A. The buzz following the trade with
the Marlins comes largely because fan reaction had been so strong so
long in maintaining Jays ownership was being cheapskates and that it
would never change. The difference between these moves by current GM AA
and the moves pulled off in the Ricciardi Era is that J.P. more often
than not had to use free agency to fill his needs because the farm
system was not highly regarded by Baseball America and others rating
such things. Too many low-ceiling college guys.
For instance, the B.J. Ryan and A.J.
Burnett additions were free agent signings. Especially for Ryan, who had
had just one successful season as a closer, each deal involved
overpaying to get them to come to Toronto. This trade by AA did not
strip the farm system of prospects. They are still loaded in terms of
players 2-4 years away from the majors. As for the players acquired,
Reyes at times has been in the conversation for best player in baseball,
while Buehrle has 12 straight seasons of 200-plus innings. Sure, health
is always a factor in hindsight, but it seems that Jays’s fans, even
when they are happy, seem to look for the dark cloud. Hellickson has
been rumoured to be available and will draw much interest, but there is
no way that the Cy Young Award winning Price can be pried from the Rays.
Looking back, were there any clues
that The Trade was going to happen? i.e., any subtle hints AA dropped,
or moves made (or not made); because this came out of nowhere, which is
somewhat shocking nowadays.
Brent Shepherd, Victoria, B.C.
A. The only hints were in September
when Anthopoulos said quite emphatically that he needed to improve the
rotation and that he would have more money to spend because it was being
ploughed back into payroll. He never has said stuff like that. Plus, at
the GM meetings in Palm Springs, the reports were that other GMs
laughed and said how “Alex is itching to make a big deal.” The biggest
reason there were no leaks in this trade is that the Marlins might have
been embarrassed at what they were doing, AA always plays his cards
close to the vest and because there were no “no-trade” clauses to
circumvent, there were no player agents involved. The more agents, the
more teams, the more leaks.
Q. Do you think AA would talk to Jose Bautista about who to hire as manager? Or at least run it by him first?
Ben Smith, Peterborough
A. The relationship between Bautista
and AA is special. They are in this together because of the chance they
both took when Bats signed his big five-year contract after one great
season. At the time, Alex’s promise was that he would do everything to
win during the length of the deal. As such, AA would call Bautista not
to ask him what he thinks, but to let him know what was about to happen.
Alex in his brief time with Halladay before the trade, kept him up to
date on everything involving him. He did the same with Vernon Wells he
is doing with Bautista. It’s important to have the key players on your
HERE’S A COUPLE OF QUESTIONS THAT
ARRIVED JUST BEFORE THE TRADE THAT REFLECTED THE FEELINGS OF FRUSTRATED
FANS SINCE THE SEASON ENDED
Q. Hi Richard,
For Blue Jays fans, the clock is a
ticking and most if not all of the top prospects whether it be for left
field of starting pitching will be signed up with other teams while the
powers that be, do nothing. Heck at least the Jays have the honour or
whatever of being the only team with a Baseball Cap without any letters on them
— wow, amazing news.? Maybe this team is in serious need of new
ownership.? There is the old saying that ‘you can fool all the people
some of the time and some of the people all the time but you just can’t
fool all the people all the time. If no serious effort is made to
improve the team, it would be interesting to see the fan attendance for
Q-My grandfather passed away last
weekend. He was probably the most irrational Blue Jays fan ever. I
remember many times him yelling at the TV cursing the “darn Blue Jays.”
In his irrationality there is some truth. These are one of the richest
owners in the MLB. They have an astute GM, a huge market, and a wealth
of minor league talent. It’s time for this team to make a step forward.
The Blue Jays owners remind me of our current city government; a failure
to realize this is a world class city. You need to think big to be big.
I have been enjoying baseball here in South Korea and wow, what an
experience. My favourite team was last in the league. I recall a game
where we were down 11-0, yet people stayed and cheered until the end.
One of the best parts is you can bring your own beer and food into the
game. Mind you the beer in the stadium costs the same as outside.
Baseball at its finest.
All the best,
Matthew, Seoul, South Korea
A. I’m sure your Jays’ fan grandfather is looking down and smiling. May he rest in peace.
Q. Great blog Richard — I really
enjoy it. Would love to see you team up with Doug Smith, during summer
months, so we could get daily tidbits, in addition to your regular
My question is with respect to all
of the bullpen signings — do you see this as a strategy by AA as a
selling point to potential free agent starters? i.e. sign with us and
you’ll have one of the best/deepest bullpens protecting your back?
David Moon, Toronto
A. Thanks, but I know that North
America’s Mr. Raptor, Smitty in the summer, post NBA, has enough work
with his own son’s baseball. The guy works so hard at hoops, I would
hate to add to his load.
As for the Jays’ bullpen, the last
three World Series winners — the Giants in 2010-12 and the Cardinals in
2011 — have all had superior bullpens full of guys throwing mid to high
90s. Baseball is if nothing else a game of copycat GMs. It’s like TV
shows or Hollywood movies. Strong, deep, hard-throwing bullpens are the
CSI of baseball. Does a strong bullpen help lure starters that have a
choice? Yes, it can be a factor, but usually if a guy is trying to
cement his legacy.
I remember Don Sutton in his last
kick at the free-agency can was looking for 300 wins and part of his
search as his career wound down involved teams with great closers. But
there aren’t too many Don Suttons out there. I’m already looking forward
to seeing these bullpen guys compete at spring training. High 90s Jays
include Steve Delabar, Esmil Rogers, Brad Lincoln, Jeremy Jeffress,
Sergio Santos and Sam Dyson. AA will add a couple of more names but it
looks like the Jason Frasor Era is over. Darren Oliver still may retire
or ask for a trade from his $3 million option that was picked up by the
Q. Hi Richard,
As much as I approve of the Blue
Jays/Marlins deal, there’s something that we’re forgetting in all of
this. The Jays could have acquired two of the three big-name players,
Reyes and Buehrle, last off-season for nothing more than the money they
will now pay them anyway. Had Anthopoulos picked up Reyes last
off-season, he could have acquired the two Marlins pitchers without
having to give up so much young talent. He could then have used these
prospects to acquire other established players. Was this deal a panic
move in response to growing criticism from the fan base? And is this
deal an indication that the Blue Jays are so far off the radar for free
agents that unless the Blue Jays go out and trade for talent, players
will simply not sign here?
A. Anthopoulos has never made a move
in response to criticism from the fan-base. However, his concerns are
often a reflection of the fan-base concerns. It’s naive to say that the
Jays could have signed Reyes and Buehrle last winter and saved the
prospects they now had to give up. Neither player was interested in
Toronto at the time and both seemed to have been blindsided by the
no-trade provision that they did not have included in their contracts
with the Marlins and the broken verbal promise that they say they
received from Fish ownership. The Jays would have had to pay more and
besides even that would not have influenced the players because the Jays
were not showing signs of being immediately competitive. The Jays have
been off the radar for free agents, but Melky demonstrates the impact of
the mega-deal with the Marlins. There is a snowball effect with free
agents. Now a manager.
Q. Well, all of a sudden, it’s
exciting being a Jays’ fan again. And finally you might have some
meaningful September (October?) baseball to cover. I didn’t like losing
Hechevarria and some of those young pitching prospects, but this is
HUGE. And they kept the two big power arms in their rotation. So a chunk
of the future is lost, but they still have a lot of young pitching
depth with Drabek and Hutchison, Syndergaard and Sanchez and most
importantly, Rogers is finally acting like the mega corporation that it
is, rather than Kansas City North. The $170M of additional salary is a
rounding error for them and given their increasingly negative profile in
the city of Toronto, they had to show that they were serious,
especially given their stakes in Raptors and Leafs. I know it’s not
official, but I can’t believe that Selig would veto this, after having
let the Red Sox do essentially the same thing. As for those Expos fans
in Montreal, they are probably experiencing a touch of schadenfreude and “I told you so” today about that creep Loria. That man should never be allowed near a baseball franchise again. He’s now destroyed two, not one, franchises.
A. The Jays being viewed as
contenders and the Argos in the Grey Cup. Sporting life in Toronto is
good. And the Leafs are still tied for first.