After a disappointing 2011 season plagued by injuries, some apparent disharmony in the clubhouse, and the ultimate departure of manager John Farrell and a good chunk of the coaching staff to Beantown to take over the Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos was feeling the heat. Not just him, either. Long-suffering fans, who haven’t seen a whiff of post-season action since the team’s back-to-back World Series titles in 1992-93, have pretty much had their fill of the owner Rogers Communications’ penny-pinching ways, feeling that to compete with big-spending division rivals like the New York Yankees and the Red Sox the Jays have to up their player payroll to attract quality talent.
In one fell swoop today the Jays did precisely what their fans had been clamouring for them to do. In what’s being described as one of the most astounding trades in baseball history, Anthopoulus acquired two quality pitchers along with an all-star shortstop and two other solid position players from the Miami Marlins. To get that bounty, the Jays surrendered two starters of their own (a shortstop and a pitcher) and a pile of prospects. End result: the Blue Jays now have a payroll in the $120 million range (compared to $75 million in 2012), and pundits are saying that the trade immediately vaults the Jays to the status of a title contender in 2013.
Fans in Miami, not surprisingly, are a little choked about owner Jeff Loria’s part in the trade, feeling it’s just the latest in a long line of salary dumps he’s made that keeps the Marlins a perennial non-contender in the National League. In the 1990s, Loria presided over the demise of the Expos in Montreal where he employed a similar strategy. Adding salt to the wound for Marlins’ fans is the fact that last year the team moved into a new stadium that was largely publicly-funded in exchange for a promise from Loria that once the stadium was built he’d have the revenue he needed to boost the team payroll.