John Lott of the National Post kicks off his item on today’s Jose Reyes media availability with a king hell of an admission from Alex Anthopoulos:
A major trade that collapsed just after the World Series set the stage for the blockbuster that brought star shortstop Jose Reyes and four other Miami Marlins to Toronto.
“It was real, real close,” general manager Alex Anthopoulos said of the deal that fell through.
He refused, of course, to furnish details when asked. But he said that trade would have had the same impact on the Blue Jays’ 2013 payroll as the Nov. 19 megadeal with Miami that transformed the Blue Jays into an overnight contender.
Lott goes on to note that the Marlins deal increased the Jays’ payroll by about $44-million.
What might this proposed deal have looked like? It can’t possibly be that difficult to figure out, can it? There are only so many clubs with those kinds of assets to give up and a willingness to essentially punt on 2013, so… let explore some potential candidates.
My first instinct was to consider clubs who did end up dealing away high priced players this winter. Cleveland, for example, was always considered a candidate to sell, and ended up dealing free-agent-to-be Shin-Soo Choo to Cincinnati– though there were rumours of Astrubal Cabrera, Justin Masterson and Chris Perez getting dealt as well. MLBTR’s arbitration projections have Choo at $7.9-million, Perez at $7.2-million, and Masterson at $5.7-million. Cabrera’s guaranteed deal is for $6.5-million, and– if you want to make it a real blockbuster– Ubaldo Jimenez comes in at $5.75-million.
That’s pretty much everyone in Cleveland who earns anything (no, I mean the whole city, not just on the baseball club– HEYO!), and it’s still only $33-million– ten-million shy of what the Jays took on from Miami.
So… the fuck? Who else?
The next possibilities to hit my mind would be the two Chicago clubs. It’s not that the White Sox are necessarily punting– or the Cubs now either, though they may have considered it in late October– but they have some payroll tied up, and seem like they could have been in a position to deal, even if they’ve ended up mostly quiet.
It was only a couple days after the World Series that the White Sox extended Jake Peavy, ending speculation that he might be dealt to a club more inclined to pick up his $22-million option for 2013. That figure goes a long way to getting a theoretical deal into the $44-million ballpark. Add a shortstop swap that brings back Alexei Ramirez ($7-million), the serviceable-ish Gavin Floyd ($9.5-million) and, say, reliever Matt Thornton ($5.5-million) and it brings you exactly to that $44-million figure.
After the down years from Ramirez and Floyd, I get the White Sox end of this one, but I’m not quite sure I see it from the Jays’ perspective– regardless of how the prospect package might have changed. That’s a lot of money for not a whole lot, Kenny.
The Cubs make less sense, I’d say. The North Siders may have been more willing to part with Matt Garza ($10-million, per MLBTR’s projection) if a club was taking on something grotesque like the $19-million owed to Alfonso Soriano, with the other $15-million coming in the form of, say, David DeJesus ($4.25-million) and Carlos Marmol ($9.8-million). But… well… actually, is it that much worse than what we might be talking about with the White Sox? I don’t even know.
From there it gets harder to see fits, no matter how much some folks will surely by dying to pretend that there was ever a chance that the Phillies might have sent some salary this way. *COUGH*
We could probably rule out the AL East clubs just because of how unlikely it is that such an enormous deal would have been considered by division foes. But even if we don’t believe intra-division fears would have held something up, the Red Sox, Yankees and Orioles are all looking to contend and certainly not willing give up so many of their big league assets to have made a deal like this work. And while the Rays did send James Shields and Wade Davis to the Royals, there just isn’t enough else on their payroll to make the numbers work (save for conversation-enders David Price and Evan Longoria).
The AL Central champion Detroit Tigers wouldn’t have been looking to unload such a massive chunk of their veteran core, the Royals wouldn’t have had the pieces to make it work, either, nor would the Twins, unless Joe Mauer’s name was involved. It almost certainly was not, of course, and beyond him, the Twins have no pitching to speak of, and Justin Morneau and Josh Willingham only add up to $22-million in salary for 2013.
Out west, the Angels wouldn’t have been looking to move salary that wasn’t going to Dan Haren and Vernon Wells, so they’re a no. The Rangers would have had to deal Kinsler and Young and even more of their MLB roster, which is just wacky implausible for a team that should almost be able to waltz into a playoff spot, and the Astros, A’s and Mariners don’t really pay any of their players enough for there to be a fit (save for Felix, who… no).
In the National League East we have the Phillies. They have a lot of big contracts, yes, and maybe they would have dealt one of them– shit, maybe they tie Ryan Howard to Cliff Lee and say you have to take them both, which would have… actually that would have been awesome. But I think they were always looking to reload and give this group one more shot before things get real hilarious.
Then we have the Mets, who could have unburdened themselves of Johan Santana’s $25-million salary by tying it to R.A. Dickey (who I have a sense the Jays kinda like), Jon Niese and Frank Francisco. Doing so would get close to the $44-million ballpark, but wouldn’t really make a whole lot of sense, would it? (I’m asking honestly. Maybe it would?)
The Braves wouldn’t have had the high-priced pieces to plausibly move, and the Marlins… well, that actually happened.
In the NL Central, I don’t think any of the Reds, Brewers and Cardinals would realistically divest themselves of so many of their core assets, while the Pirates don’t have anything to make such a deal work.
The Diamondbacks of the NL West dealt Trevor Bauer this winter, and there has been much chatter about their moving Justin Upton or Jason Kubel, but they just don’t have the big, plausibly-moved salaries on payroll to quite make the numbers work, even if they were willing to flip the inexplicably-acquired $10-million of Heath Bell– which they’d picked up just a little before the World Series began. The Rockies could have traded their whole team– De La Rosa, Cuddyer, Tulowitzki and Gonzalez– to get into the realm of possibility, financially. But, apart from the fact that that’s nuts, it’s not like Tulo and CarGo’s deals are the poison pill that Buehrle’s backloaded one is. I don’t see the incentive for them– nor do I quite see it on the Jays part either. Where’s the pitching? (Oh. Right. Colorado.)
As for the rest of the division, the Dodgers obviously weren’t shedding cash, the Giants seem pretty comfortable where they’re at, and the Padres don’t have the high-dollar contracts to move.
Aaaaand… there you have it.
Although, I suppose Anthopoulos could be talking about a three- or even a four-team deal here. In which case… holy fuck, I’m not going to touch that with a ten foot pole. I’ve written way enough. (Kinda edited it for readability now a little bit too!)
So, what do you think? Any of these sound vaguely plausible? More importantly: should Anthopoulos be thanking his lucky stars every day that whatever deal was in the works didn’t actually get done?
Image via Sportsnet Magazine.