MLB Okays Marlins-Jays Mega Deal

After just one year in Miami, Jose Reyes (along with several of his team mates) will take to the field in Toronto next season, a move that has seen the Blue Jays rise in bookmakers' eyes.

Monday saw Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig put his official seal of approval on the mega trade between the Miami Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays.

Almost a week after the trade was first reported, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson are now officially members of the Blue Jays organization. Meanwhile, Toronto’s front office has been busy making a number of other signings.

Miami Offloads Unwanted Talent

First reported last Wednesday, after finishing the season with a 69-93 record and dead last in the NL East, the Miami Marlins agreed a deal with the Toronto Blue Jays that would send five of its biggest names north of the border.

The deal, which was agreed between the two sides during the Winter Baseball Owners’ Meetings, proposed the following moves:

Toronto obtains: Emilio Bonifacio (IF/OF), John Buck (C), Mark Buehrle (LHP), Josh Johnson (RHP), Jose Reyes (SS)

Miami obtains: Henderson Alvarez (RHP), Anthony DeSclafani (RHP), Yunel Escobar (SS), Adeiny Hechavarria (IF),Jake Marisnick (OF), Jeff Mathis (C), Justin Nicolino (LHP)

Miami’s move to purge itself of the big contracts of Buehrle and Reyes – both debutants following last summer’s spending extravaganza – as well as long-time Marlin Johnson, was met by controversy in South Florida, where taxpayers are responsible for 80 percent of the brand new $634 million Marlins Park.

Some went so far as to call for commissioner Selig to veto the deal in the ‘interests of baseball’, something that was given consideration.

Monday however saw Selig sign off on the deal, stating that, “[the move] does not violate any express rule of Major League Baseball and does not otherwise warrant the exercise of any of my powers to prevent its completion.”

It’s unlikely that we’ll ever know if Selig really believed the deal to be fully aboveboard or whether he was simply looking to avoid the fallback of getting involved in a deal that was not his to be involved with, as happened to the NBA’s David Stern during the Chris Paul saga last year.

What we do know is that, pending medicals, those eleven players will be donning new uniforms come spring training.

Jays Continue to Fish

Not content with luring Reyes and Co. from the Marlins, the Blue Jays confirmed that a deal had been inked with free agent outfielder Melky Cabrera on Monday.

The two-year deal comes after Cabrera was suspended for 50 games for violating Major League Baseball’s drug policy, testing positive for the use of testosterone. Cabrera was eligible to return ahead of the postseason, but San Francisco chose to leave the outfielder in limbo as it went on to win the World Series.

Before his suspension, Cabrera had led the National League in hitting with a .346 average.

Cabrera now joins a homerun hitting lineup that includes the aforementioned Reyes as well as Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion.

Gibbons Welcomed Back

The Toronto front office also announced on Tuesday that it had filled the manager position vacated by John Farrell, who accepted the same position in Boston after two seasons with the Jays.

Farrell’s successor will be John Gibbons, who previously managed the side between 2004 and 2008.

Gibbons replaced Carlos Tosca midway through the 2004 season, compiling a 20-30 record in his first partial season. Gibbons picked up the American League Manager of the Year award in 2005 and managed the Jays to two winning seasons (2006, 2007). He was relieved of his duties in June 2008 having led the club to a 35-39 record.

Gibbons’ all-time record with the Jays is 350-350.

Gibbons has since worked as a bench coach in Kansas City and a manager in San Diego’s farm system.

Running Up the Rankings

With so much activity taking place in Southern Ontario, it should come as no surprise to learn that there has been a lot of movement in the MLB Futures.

Before news of the mega deal broke last week, Toronto – who has not been to the postseason since winning a second consecutive World Series in 1993 – was considered 35/1 to take the big prize at the end of the 2013 season.

The news ushered in new odds of 14/1. News that Cabrera will be plying his trade north of the border this season have seen these odds shorten once again, with the Jays now considered 11/1 – the same as the New York Yankees – to win the World Series.

Miami has subsequently gone the other way following its payroll purge. 40/1 odds have skyrocketed to 100/1, a figure on par with Colorado and Minnesota. Only one side is considered less likely to win it all: Houston (200/1).