The “ninja” has returned, and for the first time in a very long while it genuinely feels like anything is possible.

You almost certainly know the details by now, but for the sake of completeness: in a double franchise-altering, perception-skewing, paradigm-shifting, division-tilting mega-trade, the Toronto Blue Jays have essentially– if not quite literally– doubled their payroll, acquiring from the Miami Marlins (pending league approval, which is expected to come Wednesday) RHP Josh Johnson, LHP Mark Buehrle, SS Jose Reyes, INF/OF Emilio Bonifacio, C John Buck, and perhaps most unbelievably of all, $4-million.

To get these pieces the Jays give up SS Yunel Escobar, SS Adeiny Hechavarria, RHP Henderson Alvarez, C Jeff Mathis, and prospects OF Jake Marisnick, LHP Justin Nicolino, and RHP Anthony DeSclafani.

No, really.

It still doesn’t feel real, and I’m not sure it will even after we do get official word that it’s gone through.

That’s largely because even the most cynical, pissing-and-moaning, Rogers-hating fan has to give full-on, ridiculous amounts of genuinely-shocking credit to ownership, who’ve added a crazy amount to not only the club’s 2012 payroll in order to make a deal that genuinely shifts the balance in the American League East, but to the Jays’ long-term salary structure, especially given that the deals to Reyes and Buehrle are backloaded considerably.

For 2012, the Jays shed $9.25-million from Mathis, Escobar and Hechavarria, plus a league minimum deal for Alvarez, while adding nearly $45-million– $13.75-million for Johnson, $10-million for Reyes, $12-million for Buehrle, $6.5-million for Buck and a projected $2.5-million in arbitration for Bonifacio. Factor in the $4-million of salary relief, and we’re looking at about $31-million being added to a payroll that Shi Davidi of Sportsnet already figured was going to be approximately $79-million, bringing the club to about $110-million as it currently stands.

More impressively– aka the kicker, if you’re Rogers, or the thing that will haunt your dreams, if you’re a fan worried about Rogers one day suddenly reneging on this spirit-buoying burst of goodwill– is the fact that Buehrle’s deal escalates to $19-million for 2014 and $20-million for 2015, while Reyes goes to $16-million in 2014 (making him and his turf-beaten knees the highest paid player on the club), then $22-million in each of 2015, ’16, and ’17.

Yes, one of the most amazing things about Rogers’ decade-plus of stewardship of this club is that even on a night like this– a night of tremendous optimism for the franchise and fans– we can’t get away from questions about how long this commitment might last. Without question, Rogers has earned that doubt. And putting their money where their mouth is only stems it so much. But I’ll say this: today, for once, those are some difficult words to stammer out, and that’s fucking huge.

So huge, in fact, that papers over a lot of warts we might otherwise be seeing all over this deal. Johnson has big health red flags, having missed much of 2007 with elbow trouble, 2008 with Tommy John, and 2011 with shoulder inflammation; Buehrle is aging and expensive; Reyes, though mystifyingly seven months younger than Escobar, may not age well on turf and costs about a bajillion dollars more; and the prospects headed Miami’s way still have a great deal of upside.

But on the other hand… fuck it.

Fuck it!

Reyes has been worth nearly 11 wins above replacement over the last two years! He’s a damn switch hitter! A legit lead-off man! A star!

Johnson has been worth ten wins over his last two healthy seasons, discounting his injury-riddled 2011. And he stayed healthy last year! Was absolutely dominant two years prior! And the Jays have a giant head start on re-signing him if he shows he’s back to even the four win pitcher he was last year, let alone the six win guy he was before!

Buehrle has been worth about six wins over the last two years! He pitched over 200 innings in both of them! And each of the ten years previous!

The two pitchers instantly address the club’s most painfully obvious area of need, adding talent above and beyond any realist’s most optimistic hope about what the club could have landed by way of the free agent market. And in 2010, Reyes’ worst full season since 2005, he was still worth a win more than two of Escobar’s last three– last year he was worth 4.5 to Yunel’s 1.8.

Not only that, he allows the club to distance themselves further from this summer’s homophobic slur incident.

Maybe more impressive still, the Jays didn’t even come close to destroying their farm system to make these major upgrades. Nicolino was the most polished, but had the lowest upside of the “Lansing Three”; Marisnick needed to force his way past a number of guys in the outfield before he could impact; Hechavarria is still no sure thing with the bat; and Alvarez throws hard but is nobody’s starter until he finds a third pitch.

The Jays got this deal done without moving Sanchez, Syndergaard, Osuna, d’Arnaud, Gose, Lawrie, or even Arencibia– who looks a strong candidate to be flipped, now that John Buck is setup perfectly to open the year as the Jays’ catcher, with Travis d’Arnaud coming along slowly and taking over the gig for good come 2014.

There’s Bonifacio, too– a nice little utility pickup, especially combined with the nice little utility pickup of last week. He was hurt last year but put up 3.3 fWAR in 2011. He’s a switch hitter, can fill in at a number of positions, and has stolen 70 bases over past two seasons, being caught only 13 times.

Perhaps best of all, the Jays– and Rogers, in particular– have shown something for once. I’m somewhat loath to get greedy, but they’re a much more attractive destination today than they were yesterday– or basically since their rotation went up in flames mid-season. Does a Melky Cabrera maybe now kind of want to come here? Does a Brandon McCarthy? A Joe Torre? A Bobby Cox?

Yes, these are wildly optimistic questions for fans who two weeks ago were applauding the sleight of hand that saved a presumably much-needed $500K from the 2013 payroll thanks to a curious pact with Rajai Davis. But why not?

Why not go for the kill?

I mean, ultimately, all that Rogers has bought themselves here is a brief respite from the negativism that’s been spewed all over their brand and their franchise for the last several months, at least, and that had been festering below the surface (if not overtly) for maybe longer even than its been since the last time they feebly tried to pay down their previous years of payroll lip service.

And really, it’s only an odd stroke– part luck, part genius– that’s brought us here: the Marlins’ despicable and long planned-for fire sale, and the shrewdness of Alex Anthopoulos, who has stockpiled the trade chips and budgeted with such austerity to place himself in a position to convince both Rogers and the Marlins that this deal needed to happen.

Sure, it’s all blowjobs and gumdrops today– all basking in tweets like Nick Cafardo’s, which says that the Red Sox “made a push for both Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson, but Jays just blew Marlins away”– but what the hell were they going to do if this didn’t come along??? I’m at least, at this moment, more comfortable that something would have been possible this winter, but… I’m not really sure how I feel about it right now, or why I feel compelled to reflect this way after what’s been a total starburst of a gut punch to my preparations for a long, mostly venomous, and ultimately disappointing slog through the off-season.

Like… surely somewhere there’s a parallel universe where this trade doesn’t magically appear, and the Jays ended up dealing for Gavin Floyd, signing a couple low-end rotation options, getting Beltran’d by the guys they really wanted and limping into next year on false hope. It’d be a real comfortable place, I think. And maybe, in a way that I didn’t want to admit to myself, seemed all too inevitable.

Tonight feels more than anything like a real chance to break free of that for a long time. We have a real team. Real owners. Real optimism. And the only thing that’s kinda hard to believe is that it’s really for us.

Yeah, it’s just one fifth of last year’s shitty Marlins, and uncomfortably goddamn expensive, but holy shit. HOLY SHIT! Maybe let’s turn into total dickheads and get greedy…


Image via @ArchiZuber.

Comments (492)

  1. Wilner, with Reyes, and Bonifacio joining the jays why in gods, name would you have Lind hit 5th!! why… why!!!! Why not Rasmus or Lawrie. Jesus fuck.

    • Depends on which Lind shows up. Not that I would probably do it but if Lind gets back to what he’s capable of you could have him hit 4th to split up Jose and EE’s right handed bats. Again it’s probably too early to even think about setting your typical lineup without knowing who all the starters are going to be.

      • The only Lind that will show up for the rest of his career is the shitbag that we’ve seen the past couple years.

        There is no “good Lind”.

        • Since you got your crystal ball out and warmed up can you give this Friday’s Lotto Max number while you’re at it?

      • Don’t be too quick to toss Lind aside. After he came back, he had a decent September. Mottorola might be able to get him back on track. At worst, he’s a decent bench bat.

  2. Everyone who wants a Bonifacio/Davis platoon in LF:

    Their combined career OPS is around .680
    Their combined average HR is fewer than 5 per season
    They are both minus defenders (good speed does NOT mean good outfield defense)
    Stolen bases do not translate to more wins

    That isn’t the kind of production you want out of a corner OF spot in the AL East

    • Bonifacio wont play full time LF he will play utility role like Rays play a bunch of guys, I could see him playing a bunch of time, LF 2nd, SS, 3rd, RF etc. where ever he is needed. He is also a career .329 obp and stole 30 bases in 274 plate appearances. Gose gave you 14 in a 189 pa. great guy to have who has played good amount rf, lf, cf, 2nd, ss, 3rd in the last two years and played them at the mlb level. his OPS is low because of his slugging. We don’t need another slugger we need some high obp.

    • Agreed that’s why I think Davis is expendable now especially if a competent every day left fielder is acquired. With one of Izturis or Bonifacio likely to be on the bench to start every game your speed guy off the bench is covered. Getting rid of Davis gives you the option for a better platoon mate for Lind who we don’t really want facing LHP at all.

      Lind’s career OPS vs RHP of .836 is perfectly acceptable. Add someone like Gomes with a career OPS vs LHP of .894 and you’re really adding depth to your lineup at the DH spot. Davis’ career OPS vs LHP is .766 isn’t bad but why settle?

      • Gomes is already gone.

        Best quote of the day, from a commenter on Deadspin:
        “It’s not like there was anything prior to this year to suggest Jeffrey Loria was a complete weasel, n’est-ce pas?”

    • you clearly don’t understand what a platoon is.

      • I don’t? lol

        • i meant dannomack, who says their combined ops is under 700…which is obviously fucking wrong unless you aren’t looking at the splits…which is the only way you get that number…and the only way you do that is by not understanding that the platoon advantage is to play batters who are shit against like-handed pitchers.

          • side note: another perfect illustration of how the score’s comment section needs some serious tlc. because this is a mess. i can never tell who is responding to what unless the context makes it clear or they explicitly state who they’re replying to. and as much as i’d like to say we should type each others sn, i refuse to do that in 2012.

        • I’m pretty sure he means me because he thinks I should have used their splits instead of their career numbers because for some reason people think that players in a platoon will NEVER face same-handed pitchers.

          • so, if someone faces 80%+ opposite-side pitchers, you think it’s better to use career ops than the splits?

    • I’d trade Bonafacio for Bourn or for someone else and sign Bourne. I forget if he’s a FA or not

    • I want Bonifacio as the 2nd baseman vs RH, not the LF (unless a bunch of injuries, day off for someone …etc…)

      Would rather bring in a decent hitting LF – if not a Gose / Davis platoon might be OK – if a decent 1st baseman is brought in….. sorry Lind lovers

  3. Ike Davis for jpa?

  4. It’s hilarious how jaded we are as Jays fans. I too, while freaking out initially, then went the “oh but these guys are older and breaking down and stuff”… then really thought about it. WTF did the Jays give up? Basically nothing. And yeah, maybe they break down, but there are several years of very good baseball in all of these guys. I mean, holy shit. The starting rotation IS AN ACTUAL STARTING ROTATION. I can’t remember the last time I said that. Probably Clemons/Wells era. Jesus.

  5. If Mark Buehrle wasn’t owed so much money I wouldn’t be surprised to see him retire / hold out for a trade to somewhere like St Louis or back to Chicago.

  6. Interesting to hear Johnson’s agent on with Blair. He speculates that the pieces in the trade might be spun out to a third team, identifying the Yankees and Rangers by name as possible suitors for Josh Johnson. It’d certainly be an interesting proposition for AA…do you dangle Johnson to the losers of the Greinke sweepstakes?

    • Not without trying my best to get an extension done. I said yesterday I thought it might be possible that Buehrle gets moved and that would be my preference if AA had to move one of them but again there’s no rush to move either of them this year or next especially when the need for both is so strong.

      I found it odd that the agent was making comments like Johnson potentially being spun off already. Is that his way of saying his guy wants to pitch elsewhere?

      At least the agent shot down Olney’s utterly ridiculous bs about the tax rates being a problem. All you have to do is a brief google search on the subject to see that while the rates are indeed higher there’s so many options for mitigating them it becomes a non-issue. Also I found that while living in Florida has it’s advantages it can also cost them more money when they pay taxes in other states which is what they all do.

  7. I aint gone be satisfied until we get a brotha in the roation. a la E Jax doe

  8. Wanted to show you guys this. There’s a poll on the ESPN site asking if this trade made the Jays contenders, and these are the results after 92,000+ votes, with each state colored to indicate their belief.

    Blue: 50% voting no

    92k votes isn’t an awful lot for a country with 314M+ people, but it still feels pretty good.

  9. Well count Tori out lol He is going to the Tigers after all. Great pick up for them but I hope he ages really quickly now.

    Ken Rosenthal ‏@Ken_Rosenthal
    Torii to #Tigers. Two-year agreement, pending physical.

  10. I think we may be severely underestimating Bonifacio’s potential.

    In 2011 Bonifacio’s stats look like this: .296/.360/.393 with 40 SB, and a 3.3 fWAR over a full season.

    Obviously this past season was nowhere near as good, but he was limited by injuries and yet still managed to steal 30 bases IN ONLY 64 GAMES.

    He hasn’t had an OBP below .300 in his entire career. Even last year, an off-year, his .330 OBP would have been third in the Jays lineup.

    You’re telling me you wouldn’t want that starting in your lineup?

  11. [...] Jays Steal Miami’s Soul (Pending League Approval): I won’t front. The last three paragraphs got me a little choked up. [...]

  12. Can Bonifacio be a full time second baseman? Lind, Davis, Itures (?) makes a pretty decent bench and why can’t Gose be the fulltime left fielder when the rest of the team is pretty much allstars? I say just grab a power hitting bat for DH and then make this trade : Arrencibea, Stromen, Jimenez and Cardona for Tim Lincecum.

    Starting Rotation: Morrow, Johnson, Romero, Burle, Lincecum. With Happ as your bonus injury replacement guy. Combined with what has to be one of the top 3 pens in all of baseball the Jays would be World Series Favorites, no?

    • There’s no need for Bonifacio to slot in as the everyday 2B on opening day. He’s a credible major league regular player that can be inserted into the everyday lineup in case of an injury to basically any position player aside from the Catcher. He’s an incredible asset to have on a 25-man roster. No more replacement level or below injury replacements like Mike McCoy, Omar Vizquel or Moises Sierra. Bonifacio gives the team excellent flexibility

  13. Joes Reyes? Jose – fucking – Reyes. This is like if the Leafs got Gaborik. Boner Alert. Best day to be a Jays fans since 1993.

  14. is this trade awaiting league approval, team physicals or both?

  15. So excited about the trade but years of being a Jays fan has left me apprehensive that this won’t somehow blow up in our face.

  16. Long time reader here, but first time poster, so be easy.
    I love the move. If the jays could sign Melky to a relatively team-friendly contract (which is a possibility now, I think, since they look like serious contenders), I think it would put them over the top and into the playoffs.
    Also, with the redundancy behind the plate, perhaps Buck + or Arencibia + could be dealt for another bottom of the rotation pitcher?

    2b-Izturis / Bonifacio

    Bench-Izturis/Bonifacio, Davis, and one of the catchers?
    5-Trade / Happ
    With Drabek, Hutch returning sometime over the course of the season as depth…

    Santos, Janssen, Oliver (hopefully this inspires him to refrain from retiring), Delabar, Lincoln, Loup, Rogers

    I don’t know about you guys, but I think this team can potentially become a perennial playoff contender.

  17. Just throwing it out there: who is to say that any of these players we acquired (pending approval) will be in the lineup/rotation in 2013? Any of these players can be flipped for more valuable players in the right package with the right team. Who? I can’t even begin to speculate because this ninja we know as AA just comes from nowhere.

    • That’s a great point that isn’t getting enough thought

    • It is possible, but highly unlikely.

      JJ and Buehrle present exactly what the Jays needed in terms of pitching… a reliable, innings eating #3-type, and a top-of-the-rotation starter. I would love to see them push for an extension on JJ, but if they can’t, they can always extend a qualifying offer and get a draft pick in return. If the Jays are tanking by the deadline, there is a good chance they could trade JJ for a decent package (look at last year’s Greinke trade).

      I don’t really see them trading Reyes either… they just traded away two SS’s.

      Buck/Emilio on the other hand…

      • Agreed. I don’t see AA getting rid of Johnson, Buerhle or Reyes.

        John Buck could be traded. JPA or TDA could be traded?
        Jays still need a reliable LF.

  18. So does anyone else get the sense that Pelley’s comments were somehow prophetic? In the course of one evening the Jays are looking to be fashionable again. The trade was the top story on all the newscast I saw last night, not just the sports news. Almost 1200 comments in these 2 posts in less than 24 hours. Everyone is talking about the jays right now. If this trade means more team wins (and I really think it will) and some meaningful baseball in sept and onwards the dome will be packed. I hope it happens, the last time I was at a game where the dome was jammed was the Alomar hall of fame celebration. I’m excited for that atmosphere again.

    • @Manager Search.

      I think Rogers figured out that the buzz last year was very real . Ticket sales & ratings were very strong during the first half of the season.

      The new roster can recreate & even accelerate the buzz from last year.

      There is new hope that the team can finally compete in the AL East.

      Stephen Brunt said on PTS that Rogers wanted to end th skepticism about the team.

      AA must have donea good job of convincing Rogers to open the chequebook.

  19. Now that Rogers has laid out the dough, it’s time for Toronto ‘fans’ who have been complaining about Rogers to show who the real ‘Cheap Fucks’ are – and undoubtedly that’s the group of Toronto fans who complain about Rogers. Soon, it’ll be time for them to start whining about the Cheap Fuck Pass, where parasites get to sponge off Rogers and real fans with their cheap passes. Then they’ll fine something else to complain about.

    Time for Rogers to cut the freebies for the parasites. If Toronto can’t support a real payroll then the team should be moved to a city in America which will.

    • How’s trolling going?

    • You are the absolute worst, oakville. Getting close to time for the ol’ trollban to come out, if this is the horseshit you’re seriously going on about.

      • Do it already. Trolling people for their socioeconomic status is sooooo much more objectionable than for pretty much anything that actually has to do with baseball.

        Fuck him.

        • Dillon thinks being a parasite is a ‘socioeconomic status’. Maybe he lists it as his occupation. Or on his resume as his career objective. ‘Parasite’. Fuck off Dillon you parasite.

          • Only thing worse than a troll is a troll impostor.

          • @Fake Oakville 69.

            Stop acting like a clown. I nevercalled Dillon or any other fan a parasite. Stoeten knows your email address, so he can ban you.

      • Can everybody relax. I feel like a fight just broke out at a wedding. This is a celebration. If Uncle Larry gets drunk and shoots his mouth off, fuck him. Let’s go do a shot and continue celebrating.


      • @Stoeten. You know it’s not me posting that stuff. You have my email address, which doesn’t match the other oakville69.

    • What are you even talking about man? You’re the guy who talks about Satan on Halloween. Day of celebration!

    • You are such a smug piece of shit. I’ve already gotten into with you over your whole “I have a bunch of disposable income to spend on going to baseball games so I’m a better fan than you ‘parasites’” routine so I won’t even bother arguing with you now. You’re head is obviously so far up your ass that you are unaware that there are many, many dedicated fans out there without the luxury of going to a bunch of games in the 100s. That doesn’t make them worse fans than you, and seeing as most of them aren’t obtuse enough to rub their money in others’ faces it makes them far better human beings.

      I just hope you speak so condescendingly to someone in real life and they feed you your teeth because you would totally have it coming.

      I don’t even understand why you still hang around here. Nobody likes you or gives a shit about your opinion. You’re the kid on the playground chasing the cool kids around going “C’mon guys! Hang out with me! Can’t you see that I’m cool too because I wear brand names? Hey… where’s everyone going?”

      Seriously, just fuck off already.

      • @Dillon.

        I think I apologized to you about any perception that ” good fans” buy tickets & those that don’t are fans, but that was a few months ago.

        I enjoy going to the games & am very excited about attending games the next year.

        I am happy that Rogers approved the extra spending for 2013 & will keep Buerhle & Reyes for a few years.

    • Is that even the regular Oakville? I know he had someone using his ID here a while back. Doesn’t sound like him to me. Usually after reading some of his stuff I go searching for my tinfoil hat.

      • Well I distinctly remember getting into it with him over comments to this very effect, but that response to me above doesn’t really sound like oakville69 because he usually tries to back pedal and pretend he didn’t say what he just said as if we can’t all just look back and read it. He also generally eschews cursing and insults in a pathetic attempt to maintain the moral high ground.

        The fact that he chose to stick to his guns and cursed me out leads me to believe it is, in fact an impostor. I still maintain that oakville69 is a smug piece of shit that should fuck off already, but this may not be him.

        • @Dillon. No that was a fake Oakville 69 post. I have no clue who that fake person is. Stoeten is aware of the email address of the person posting under my ID, so he should take the appropriate measures to stop that.

      • I am the regular Oakville. I am happy with the moves AA made.

        It’s ironic that AA started as a mailroom employee under Jeff Loria in 2000.

        Loria destroyed the expos by temporarily increasing payroll by a few million in 2000, and no one else agreed to pay their share , so he gradually took over the team . he originally had a 24% share & ended up with 94% when he sold to the MLB in 2002.

      • I’d bet the farm that it’s one of his many imposter posters, but I seriously enjoyed the bit about your tinfoil hat night_manimal. Kudos.

    • This is a FAKE Oakville69 post. I never called fans parasites if they use the a Toronto Star pass.

    • @fakeoakville69.

      Grow up. I never called fans parasites.

      I think yesterday’s trade is the best thing to happen to the Jays since I started following the team in mid 2008.

      This trade will attract thousands of new fans & probably increase posters to this board.

  20. I realize there is negativity engrained into the average Jays fans soul but to all those that are still posting negative bullshit try at least enjoy this for a day or two. In short if your still not happy you’re obviously a hockey fan with nothing else to do so you might want to go look for a job or give your cat a bath instead of posting crap you know nothing about.

    • Thank you. No one is allowed to complain about Rogers, AA or anything really until… well for a long time. I’m part of this group – I was pretty disillusioned after the whole Darvish business and that weird Beltran contract or no contract offer. And I WAS SO WRONG!

      Literally all of the conjecture about how they ‘didn’t spend Vernon’s contract,’ about the lack of FA signings, about the ‘laughable’ idea that the money would be there when needed; all of that was more than wrong. I’m eating at the all you can eat crow buffet. And it tastes delicious!

      • +1
        I was ready to scream with frustration but now all is forgiven! Count me in on the all-you-can-eat crow buffet!

      • @ Ray.

        I am not sure we should be eating crow.

        Rogers is the one who should eat crow. They are the ones who have not fielded a competitive team since 2006-2008.

        They are the ones who tried to hoodwink the fans into believing in reclamation projects, tank nation etc.

  21. I’m so fucking excited. Let the season begin. Toronto fans deserve to be in contention for a playoff round or two. We’ve been patient far to long and during this long span of inconsistency, we’ve remained supportive through it all. Even if things don’t pan out as quickly as we all hope, it still feels like Christmas right now. I’m like a kid who has just received the best of all possible wishes at Christmas….Ohhhhhh how my heart is pounding right now…Happy feet :) woo hooo

  22. Not negative bullshit. But the next manager needs to be able to roll with the punches and be tough when necessary because, according to my Mets fans pals, Reyes is a real prima donna and a piece of work. Add to that our own home-grown Brett Lawrie, and the next manager has his work cut out for him. Not that I’m upset we’ve got Reyes. He’s a terrific addition. But we need someone who can get his attention and hold it without resorting to yelling and screaming…

  23. This ended up being like “Survivor: Miami”… the reality show you DONT want to win. (Just ask Giancarlo Stanton!)

  24. Good article explaining the tax differences for josh johnson playing in toronto vs florida.

    It’s not a deal killer.

  25. I thought I’d stop by to express my extreme displeasure with this deal. I’ve pretty much had it with the Jays and I will now.officially renounce my fanship.

    Furthermore, this will be my last visit to DJF. What a bunch of nonsense. Its all over and I am OUT!!

    And I mean for good! I won’t return!


    I mean it this time!

  26. [...] Toronto Blue Jays and their fans. Superlatives run dry. For my money, Andrew Stoeten summed it up best, as he so often does. In one week, Alex Anthopoulos has rewritten the fortunes of this [...]

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