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.

Comments (115)

  1. Check out Blair’s twitter page. On Nov 7th he posted this

    It always bugged me not knowing what it was…I wonder if this is related?

    • Seems like some kind of journalist humour.

      • It almost feels like some sort of joke that AA is leaking this now. He never gives us so much as a nibble and now he throws this big whopper our way. It all just seems a little odd to me.

        I wonder if some journalists with a better inside scoop than us could put 2 and 2 together and shine some light on things.

  2. Rockies.

  3. Considering the Marlins deal began from a phone call on JJ, and the desperate need for SP, this other close deal was likely centred around SP as well. That said, and considering the Jays interest in Gavid Floyd and Jake Peavy in the past, and considering AA had dealt with Kenny Williams in the past, if I had to guess, I’d say they tried to make a move with the White Sox.

    • The White Sox or the Mets seem like the most likely possibilities given the SP angle.

      • IMO, given how the Dickey deal transpired (from what we’re told), I’d suspect it was the Sox out of those two. The Dickey rumors did not start until later on in the offseason, when the Mets and R.A. could not agree on an extension. Also, AA’s story of how the Dickey deal transpired would indicate that the two sides never talked Dickey until the winter meetings.
        On the other hand, it is documented that the Sox and Jays certainly talked Floyd early in the season, and I could easily see Kenny Williams thinking he was selling low if he made a move at that time, so he simply told Alex, “lets talk after the season is over”. And knowing AA, he picked up the phone and dialed Kenny’s number as soon as the Giants recorded the final out. Then they expanded it to the $22M man Peavy and other names came into the mix, much like how the Miami deal grew.

  4. I’m thinking of this like the story of the Jays coming thisclose to stealing Randy Johnson in 1993. That deal fell apart, so Gillick went and got Rickey Henderson instead. He played two months as a Blue Jay, and only did three memorable things: he held a press conference explaining why Turner Ward should hand over number 24, he got frostbite on his leg in August, and oh yeah, he led off the bottom of the 9th in game 6 with a walk that would end up bringing Joe Carter to the plate against Mitch Williams. It would have been nice to have grabbed Randy Johnson as he was coming into his prime as the greatest lefty ever instead of a few months of “The Rickey Show”, but flags fly forever.

  5. i actually think the Howard+Philly ace makes sense. and it fell through when Philly’s management convinced ownership to keep going at their current payroll and AA wouldn’t raise his offer to non-salary-dump levels.

    as this post did an excellent job demonstrating, there weren’t a lot of options…

  6. Mariners… holy crap king felix

  7. AA says “because we’d already done the work in the previous deal, it didn’t take as long to get the work done here. It was more talking about ’14, ’16, ’17 and so on.”

    This would seem to imply the failed mega-deal would not necessarily impact the payrolls of 2014 and beyond in the same dramatic manner the Marlins trade will.

    Just speculating, but I just don’t see Ryan Howard being a part of this. Because that is Vernon Wells-type ridiculous.

    • The Mets guys I suggested would have made it the team-friendly Niese deal, and three guys who would have been free agents after 2013 in Dickey, Francisco and Santana.

      If the Mets take back an Alvarez, they still have Harvey, Gee, Wheeler, and also Meija and Familia. So their rotation wouldn’t be quite as decimated as it maybe looks on the surface. Still not sure it makes sense, but… maybe?

      • Contradicting the Mets theory: AA told the Fan 590 the story of the first time he spoke to Alderson about Dickey was just before leaving the GM meetings in Nashville, on a bus back from Al Lerner’s party. Granted that’s only Dickey not Santana or whomever else but as I recall, AA made it sound like he didn’t have much contact with Alderson at all prior to the bus ride.

      • I agree the Mets make a lot of sense.

        But maybe Niese was not a part of it:

        Totally forgot about Jason Bay but maybe Santana, Bay & Dickey were the main characters?

        • Gross.

          • It might not have been full Jason Bay.

            But the money part makes sense if you add up Santana, most or all of Bay and Dickey.

            And, common, as much as Bay has been useless lately it’s a better contract than Ryan Howard.

            And by that I mean it’s only one year of a ton of negative value for Bay.

  8. I have no idea what that mega deal couldve been but i dont think it wouldve been as sexy as the marlins trade. Im sure AA isnt disappointed in the trade thay came to be.

  9. “With Whom???”

    • Also my guess is D-Backs, Upton and Bauer included and Upton wouldn’t waive his no-trade. So the deal fell apart… maybe?

    • Not when spoken excitedly in the voice of a real person.


        • Your reputation as a fine grammarian is why I knew you did it on purpose. (Wilner would have probably stopped reading at the headline.)

          I can’t wait for Anthopoulos to get fired so he can reveal the mystery deal!!!1! Wait a minute, no, I don’t want that.

  10. The Mets seem like a pretty good fit. Maybe it was something like Santana, Wright, along with Dickey or Niese? Maybe the Mets considered trading Wright rather than sign him to a huge extension? That would mean either Lawrie was headed the other way (maybe how the deal fell apart?) or AA felt he could find spots for both Lawrie and Wright in the lineup.

    Not sure how likely this is but it’s the first guess that comes to mind.

    • As much as we took on some payroll, I doubt we would have been interested in Santana at 25 mil a year and a history of injuries. I know Wells proved nobody is untradable, but Santana has to be close to be…

  11. cliff lee

  12. It’s the diamondbacks, just think of how the jays are one of Upton’s no trade teams

    • Money doesn’t really add up unless you’re getting something like Upton, Montero, Bell and Kubel, which you’re not, so… not seeing it.

      • Wait – are we now acting like impossible video game trades don’t happen? They do! Oh man life is good.

  13. The evidence seems to indicate Tribe or White Sox. If it had been the tribe I’ll betcha Jason Kipnis name came up. Helacious work Stoeten.

  14. I’m not sure I have the timeline correct, but did AA’s discussions with the Marlins begin BEFORE the other mega-trade collapsed?

    If so, wouldn’t that suggest he preferred the collapsed trade to the Marlins deal that came to fruition?

  15. Howard, Utley and Lee make sense, sooner or later they need to blow that up.

    • Agree. It would have had to involve a high priced pitcher and high priced position players. Given the aspirations and successes of most of the teams that would have such assets, and AA’s historical preference for dealing in the NL, the Phils make the most sense. I think they realize they’re catching the Nationals and Braves any time soon.

  16. had to of been phillies
    howard, lee, worley
    lind, rasmus, prospects

  17. Great article from fangraphs about the value of SB’s, if you can follow the math.

  18. Is that bonifacio pictured in Lott’s article???

  19. Probably not the Mets because AA didn’t talk about Dickey until after the Marlins trade. Stoeten, please see what you can get out of Jeff Blair- he must at least know the team and we can piece some of it together.

  20. I don’t buy it. Rogers doesn’t take on that much salary unless its a holy fuck type deal. No chance anything resembling the Marlins package or the dollars involved was ever close to happening….. not AA’s style to go on record with something like that either.

    It’s PR by AA to distance himself from the heist from Miami, which would now seem to be less of a robbery if other teams were discussing deals of that magnitude with the Jays.

    Now other clubs who resented AA after the theft could open up to future deals with Jays.

    Good move to leak the BS story to Lott, full knowing it would get dissected by DJF and every other Jays blog…

    Ninja continues his brilliance.

  21. Lee and Rollins and some stuff makes the most sense imo. Jays send back a similar package to what they sent the Marlins.

  22. maybe the giants with a package revolving around lincecum

    • that was my first thought, too.

      lincecum and zito will earn $42M in 2013… pretty close to the $44M from the fish.

  23. It’s really hard to imagine a team other than the Marlins doing such an all out dump like we saw.

    I think a Cliff Lee deal wouldn’t have been THAT much harder to believe than the Marlins deal. The Phillies put him on waivers last year, and some thought they might let him to go the Dodgers. And trading him doesn’t mean they’d give up on 2013. I could see them dumping Lee and reinvesting the money maybe.

    • Like every dude ever gets put on waivers in August.

      • Yep tons of top talent, especially injured players, are put on waivers to try to open roster spots, or facilitate trades after August 1st. Baseball allows teams to pull the player back if a claim is made so you’re not risking anything.

  24. Well shucks, I guess we’ll never know. Fun article though..

    I honestly think the best scenario is the one we ended up with,.

    And now I’m hyped again.


  25. If this is real, the most likely is the Chisox followed by Trader Pat Gillick’s Phillies. And yes the Jays should thank their lucky stars it didn’t happen because there’s no conceivable way any conventional trade could match what they picked up from Loria’s asset-stripping of the Marlins. And if the budget had really been exhausted — if if if — then they wouldn’t have been able to move on Melky and R.A.

    If this is real.

  26. Stoeten the best

  27. Arguably the best shortstop in baseball, potentially an all-star utility with bags of speed, a previous all star pitcher with a rubber arm, and a flamethrower no-no-you-dont-hit-me rising star pitcher and a catcher that was part of the deal to bring in the nastiest floater in baseball. Yup, it was worth the first deal going down in flames.

  28. Guys it was clearly Weaver, Haren, Trout and Pulojs.

  29. Before I saw the article here, the only teams I could come up with were the mets and phillies. I’ve gotta say that I think it was the latter.
    Is it really that more ridiculous than the marlins deal?
    Besides, the trade may have been rejected by Philly so you do have the possibility that it was MORE ridiculous than the Marlins one.

  30. Our whole team for Votto

  31. Stoeten your assumng that the trade was comparable in terms of payroll.

    Maybe AA meant it was comparable in terms of talent coming in? Or comparable in terms of talent going out?

    But not necessairipy payroll.

    • No, he clearly said in the quote that it would have the same impact on the payroll as the Marlins deal.

  32. Can’t really imagine them doing a big deal for two big contracts with one year left, but the Phillies for Doc and Utley adds up mathematically and needs-wise.

    But yeah, it probably was a team with an option decision needed, so the White Sox make a lot of sense. Peavy, Floyd, maybe a piece like Gordon Beckham that the Jays have supposedly liked for a while.

    It’s hard to totally add it up, but the Angels could be a fit as well. Haren is the obvious piece (leading to a fall apart over his medicals), and you can maybe see a fit for someone like Morales. Still requires more to add up to the salary, but I guess adding $20M or so in one trade would still preclude the team from adding $44M in another.

    • I think Cliff Lee and Utley makes the most sense. The total salary is a few million less than $44M but it’s close to $40. Toronto gets an ace which I think was AA’s #1 goal this offseason (plus fills the hole at 2B). Philly gets a tonne of salary relief to enable them to retool for the next 3-4 years.

      I just can’t buy the Cleveland or White Sox theoretical deals because they don’t bring back premium talent. You would get a bunch of good players, but nothing that would transform the club and I can’t see AA doing that.

      • The only thing with the White Sox is that it’s kind of possible to make a comparison between Peavy and Johnson, who was the guy AA initially set out to get from Miami.

        There would have needed to be some more, but I don’t think we necessarily have to assume it was a $44M for 2013 package, just that it was significant enough to prevent them from taking on the Marlins trade.

  33. Uhh first time ive seen a swear in a report from a major sports outlet.. you said “Shit”

  34. He also said “fuck”.

    You new here?

  35. Is it possible that “the same impact on the … payroll” is not as “same” as a rational person would think. Maybe it would have only been $25 million in 2013?

    Also, the “repatriation” of Rios would certainly have taken us a quarter of the way to ~$44mm.

  36. Maybe it was just a different deal with the Marlins.

  37. Maybe the expos?

  38. Timmy and Zito is ~44M, and doesnt have the same long term impact that the Marlins deal did. Maybe just a simple change of the mind from Sabean was all that happened.

  39. Great post, I lol’d twice.

  40. Forget the problems that a three- or four-team trade would cause in prediction, are we forgetting that anyone on the Blue Jays major league roster may have been involved in this non-blockbuster, and their salaries would have to accounted for in the deal, so it isn’t nearly so simple as adding up $44 million worth of possible assets that may have been on the table.

    It isn’t beyond plausibility to think Bautista could have been part of a package that brought in King Felix/Cliff Lee or some equally crazy pitching, and that $44 million in difference would be calculated very differently.

    This non-story of contract calculus is a waste of your time and energy, and that of your faithful readers.

    • Why would they take Bautista if I’m Seattle/Philiies they would take Lawrie then due to his potential and years of control with his prime years

    • Right, because wild speculation and idle rumour mongering isn’t why you check a sports blog in the offseason…

    • I don’t think the Jays have to give up Bautista to get Lee or Felix. One I doubt the mariners can even afford/want him at this stage (if they wanted to compete why trade Felix to begin with). Also if Lee is being traded it is because the Phillies are dumping salary to rebuild and again why would they take on the rest of Bautista’s contract to do so.

      A trade involving a team like the Angels, Rangers, Cubs, or Dodgers might involve Bautista. But again to Bautista is still terrific value for his contract so I don’t see AA trading him unless a similar talent is coming back.. i.e. Matt Kemp or Albert Pujols.

  41. How about Angels for
    Haren + Santana + Trumbo?
    Would have been a tad over $26m

    In that deal, would not have had to give up
    both d’Arnaud and Syndergaard since
    both pitchers would have been free agents in ’14.

  42. this looks shopped. i can tell by the pixels and from seeing a few shops in my time

    • Old news.

    • So your saying its not plausible that within 2 weeks of the trade they didn’t get all the players together?!?! and then that is really not Melkey’s hand on Bonafacio’s shoulder? I can’t and won’t believe that.

  43. If the nixed deal was discussed at the end of October coinciding with Player Options as per MLBTR, then aren’t the Angels or the CHISOX the most logical teams?

  44. I instantly thought cubs when I read this. The talent/ numbers dont match but there’s been so much Garza talk over the last few years.

  45. Who cares

  46. Btw jays and Happ agreed to one year 3.7 mil
    Only bonafacio left right?

  47. Dodgers are also a potential fit, Either/Crawford + Beckett?

  48. Nice piece Stoeten. Sure helps to kill a slow day.

    My guess would have been Cleveland, just because AA was coveting Masterson alot, and perhaps the deal expanded from there. I dunno, maybe Choo? Santana? You also have to wonder about the Aviles trade to the Tribe for Esmil Rogers. Maybe that was something that both teams salvaged out of a mega-deal?

    Ultimately, its just puzzling exercise. Trying to recreate AA’s past dealings might very well be an impossible task. But fun nonetheless.

    • I was thinking this too – with the Rogers / Aviles deal. Still, I’m not sure there is the financial impact as a comparable. As Stoeten noted – it would literally take everyone on the team who makes money to make it comparable. It does make sense from AA’s later comment about the Marlins deal needing work beyond 2014.

      • I think Aviles demanded an everyday position, ala Napoli and his insistence on catching in 2011, thus why he was punted quick. AA don’t like that player demand crap.

    • “AA was coveting Masterson a lot” – when did anyone report that?

      • I can’t pinpoint the exact source, but I do remember hearing trade rumour talk about Masterson and the Jays. One of the beat reporters back in July or so.

  49. Maybe Pence, Timmy from the Giants although I doubt it.

  50. Phillies, Giants and then Mets

  51. Wny not sell the farm to Tampa – is Evan Longoria’s deal that sweetheart for that team?

    Probably. It’s fun to believe, though. I’ll take the Marlins deal, thank you very much.

  52. Fun exercise… especially because it puts the awesomeness of the Great Marlins Team Heist into perspective.

    AA the Best

  53. maybe a three way deal with us getting Vernon Wells and ARod? lol

  54. I actually see Lohse reloading with the Cardinals and a Package of Carpenter,Wainwright, Holliday and maybe someone else coming to the Jays for a Package of prospects…
    The Cardinals make the most sense to me!!!!

  55. I’m guessing it was cleaveland, the money doesn’t match up perfectly but the impact of adding 25-40 million is all pretty similar in a 1 off sentence by a gm not trying to divulged too much.

    they also went on to make a trade afterwards, so it could have started off big and then just said okay just take gomes and aviles for rogers.

  56. I’m thinking the Angels for Haren, Santana, Kendrick, and maybe Morales. That would have addressed the rotation, 2B, and 1B/DH.

  57. We need t-shirts. Drunk Jays Fans t-shirts. Fuck the platforms. We want t-shirts.

  58. [...] apparently fell through prior to the one that was consummated with the Marlins. Shi Davidi and Andrew Stoeten both speculate as to which players may have been involved in that [...]

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