The first blockbuster deal of the MLB off-season was agreed to in principle last night. The Blue Jays will acquire Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buhrle, Joe Buck and Emilio Bonifacio. In exchange “The Blue Jays are sending shortstop Yunel Escobar, right-hander Henderson Alvarez, catcher Jeff Mathis and prospects Jake Marisnick (OF), Adeiny Hechavarria (SS), Justin Nicolino (LHP) and Anthony DeSclafani (RHP) to the Marlins (ESPN).”
This is an interesting deal for many reasons. It makes the Blue Jays relevant for the first time in recent memory. Building on a base of Joey Bats, Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Lawrie, Reyes and Bonafacio add the “get on base and swipe bags” type players that should lead to lots of runs for the Jays in 2013. Adding Johnson and Buhrle to a rotation already featuring Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow gives the Jays one of the deepest pitching staffs in the league. Johnson can be one of the most dominant pitcher in the league when healthy, and I was vocal about my Yankee’s trying to get him, he is an absolute catch. The Blue Jays will be for real in 2013, and assuming the Red Sox bounce back and the Orioles were not a fluke, there will be 5 teams with legitimate playoff aspirations in the AL East in 2013.
Now to the financials. It remains to be seen how much, if any, of the contracts the Marlin’s will have to pay to get this deal done. Even if the Blue Jays have to pay all of the contracts (which would not surprise me, given how much talent they got), their 2013 payroll stands at 101.8 million dollars, well below the luxury tax. This could just be the tip of the iceberg for the Blue Jays. Imagine how that lineup would look if they decided to add Josh Hamilton as well! YIKES!
I have been critical of the Yankee’s “get under the luxury tax threshold at all costs” philosophy. As a fan in of a big market team, with no salary cap, it seems like a no-brainier to spend money and get the best talent out there. This was the philosophy pursued by George Stienbrunner that led to 5 Yankees World Series titles in my short life. It now seems that the Yankees have put the bottom line before winning world series’s (a idea articulated in an article, not coincidentally, from last years MLB off-season 12 months and 2 weeks ago.
The luxury tax is meant to give small market teams money to pursue free agents and close the gap between big and small markets. It works like this, “The per-year thresholds and tax rates are set out in the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the owners and the players union. In 2011, the tax threshold is set at $178 million, an increase from the $170 million cap in 2010. Teams who exceed the threshold for the first time must pay 22.5% of the amount they are over, teams who are over for the second time must pay 30%, and teams that have been over more than twice must pay 40%.” The Yankees have paid 95% of all luxury tax contributions, maybe it should just be called the “Yankee’s Tax”. All I know is that the Boss George Stienbrunner would not have cared about a luxury tax, he knew that it takes money to make money. R.I.P. George, R.I.P. Yankee’s dynasties for now…
The Yankees will still be competitive next year. The same cannot be said about the Miami Marlins. After a move to a “big market” in Miami (not for baseball…), a new stadium, and high priced free agent acquisitions last post season, the Marlins are back to their old ways. Since inception in 1993, the Marlins have had “fire sales” of top talent three times already. On average, they clean house once every 6-7 years. Twice this has occurred just weeks after winning World Series titles, and the latest fire sale effectively pulls the plug on the most recent attempt to make Miami a big baseball city and the Marlin’s a relevant team. It must be very frustrating being a Marlin’s fan, probably a major reason they are so few and far between. It also must be frustrating being a Marlin’s player; Giancarlo Stanton, the last big star left in MIA, will probably request a trade very soon. With this blatant disregard for winning, we may see the Marlin’s sold to new owners in sometime in the next few years.
The Yankees will be in contention next year, as will the Blue Jays, and probably the rest of the AL East. The same cannot be said about the Marlins, who now appear to be fish out of water.