Josh Johnson Rumors
The Blue Jays have reached agreement on a deal with the Marlins that will send right-hander Josh Johnson, left-hander Mark Buehrle, shortstop Jose Reyes, outfielder Emilio Bonifacio, and catcher John Buck to Toronto for shortstop Yunel Escobar, infielder Adeiny Hechavarria, right-hander Henderson Alvarez, left-hander Justin Nicolino, outfielder Jake Marisnick, catcher Jeff Mathis, and right-hander Anthony DeSclafani. The deal, which will also call for the Marlins to send $4MM to the Blue Jays, is awaiting MLB approval.
The shocking trade effectively means that the Marlins are hitting the reset button on a team which had a payroll in the range of $100MM on Opening Day last season. The Marlins brought out the checkbook last winter to draw fans to their brand new stadium, signing Reyes to a six-year, $106MM deal and Buehrle to a four-year, $58MM deal. Neither player had a no-trade clause as per club policy. Miami now has roughly $16MM in non-arbitration commitments heading into 2013.
Meanwhile, the blockbuster deal could make the Blue Jays a serious threat in the AL East. Johnson, the first player first known to be involved in the deal, turned in a solid 2012 season after missing the bulk of 2011 with inflammation in his right shoulder. The 28-year-old wasn't as quite as sharp as he was in 2009 and '10 but still posted a 3.81 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9.
Reyes, 29, hit .287/.347/.433 with eleven home runs in 716 plate appearances last season. The batting line wasn't quite as impressive as the .337/.384/.493 he put up in his contract year with New York, but it was promising to see the shortstop appear in 160 games after missing 191 games across the previous three seasons. Despite the club's disappointing performance last season, Reyes said over the summer that he didn't have any regrets about signing with Miami.
Buehrle's deal, like Reyes', is heavily backloaded with the hurler set to earn $11MM in 2013, $18MM in 2014, and $19MM in 2015 after making just $6MM in 2012. The contract also includes a $4MM signing bonus that's deferred without interest. While considering a number of offers, Buehrle was said to be prioritizing a no-trade clause, something he obviously didn't receive from the Marlins. The veteran had a 3.74 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 31 starts for Miami last season.
Bonifacio played just 64 games in an injury-riddled 2011 campaign. The 27-year-old can fill a number of different roles, having experience at all three outfield positions, second base, shortstop, and third base. Buck, 32, earned his first All-Star selection in 2010 as a member of the Blue Jays. His offensive production came back to earth in the two years since, posting a .213/.308/.358 batting line for the Marlins.
While the Marlins gave up a boatload of talent in the trade, they won't be coming away empty handed. Hechavarria was a highly-regarded prospect in the Blue Jays' organization and his play reportedly had Toronto brass ready to part with Escobar in the right trade. Of course, this megadeal sends both shortstops out of town.
Escobar struggled at the plate last season, hitting .253/.300/.344 with nine homers in 608 plate appearances. The infielder does come with a team-friendly contract, however, as he'll earn $5MM in 2013 with team options for the same amount in '14 and '15. For his career, the 30-year-old has a .282/.353/.390 batting line in six seasons with the Braves and Blue Jays. Mathis, 29, came to the Blue Jays last season in a trade for Brad Mills that helped ease the Angels' catching glut. The veteran will earn $3MM across the next two seasons with a club option for 2015 worth $1.5MM.
The Marlins also picked up a quartet of quality youngsters in the trade. Alvarez, 22, made 31 starts for the Blue Jays last season with a 4.85 ERA and 3.8 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9. Nicolino, taken in the second-round of the 2010 draft, has received high praise for his aggressive pitching and willingness to pound the strike zone. The Florida native cruised through Single-A ball last year, posting a 2.46 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9.
Marisnick, 21, was rated as the No. 67 prospect in the country and the No. 3 prospect in the Blue Jays' organization after the 2011 season by Baseball America. The publication also considered the former third-round pick to have the best defensive skillset and arm of any outfielder in the Toronto farm system. DeSclafani, taken in the sixth-round of the 2011 draft, posted a 3.37 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in his debut season for Single-A Lansing.
The trade was initially reported by Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports with additional details coming from ESPN.com's Buster Olney, Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com, and Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel.
Here's the latest from around the NL East...
- The Marlins are less likely to deal Josh Johnson this offseason than they are to deal him in the weeks leading up to the July trade deadline, a source tells Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald (Twitter link).
- Also on Johnson, there is "not much traction" between the Marlins and Red Sox about a possible trade for the Miami ace, tweets WEEI.com's Rob Bradford.
- The Marlins have hired Tino Martinez as their hitting coach, reports Adam Rubin of ESPN New York (via Twitter). The Red Sox were reportedly also considering Martinez as a candidate to become their new hitting coach.
- Martinez will be the Marlins' only hitting coach, as Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Beach Sun-Sentinel reports, though some other teams carry two hitting coaches on staff.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro tells Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer that he'd "rather pay for the player than trade for the player" in order to hold onto the Phils' minor leaguers. "I'd rather spend money but it's not an unlimited pool to work with," Amaro said. "We have some flexibility. I guess I would anticipate our payroll being similar to last year."
- The Phillies aren't planning to trade high-priced talent like Cliff Lee in an attempt to save payroll dollars, Amaro tells Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. "There's a reason why they're high-priced -- it's because they're good. I feel like we have a much better chance of winning with them than without them," Amaro said.
- Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post wonders if the Nationals and Zack Greinke could be a match this winter, given that the Nats almost acquired Greinke from the Royals two years ago.
- "What's not to like?" Nats GM Mike Rizzo rhetorically asked about Greinke today, tweets Amanda Comak of the Washington Times. Rizzo also said there are "five or six really intriguing starters" on the free agent market, tying into Comak's report from earlier today about the Nationals' "open-minded" search for pitching.
- Also from Comak (Twitter link), Rizzo said the Nationals want to add at least one left-handed reliever. The team has talked to both Sean Burnett and Mike Gonzalez and they'd like to bring both southpaws back in 2013. Burnett declined his mutual option last week but said he's like to stay in Washington, while Gonzalez is also open to returning, though up to 10 teams are reportedly interested in him.
The Phillies traded Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino this morning and the Marlins followed up those moves by trading Gaby Sanchez and Edward Mujica later in the day. The Braves welcomed new acquisitions Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson to Atlanta, but deadline day was relatively quiet for the Mets and Nationals. Here are the latest notes from the NL East...
- The Phillies are slightly under the luxury tax limit following today’s trades, GM Ruben Amaro told reporters, including Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). The Phillies opened the season with a $172MM payroll, and the MLB luxury tax affects teams that spend more than $178MM.
- At one point the Phillies considered trading Hunter Pence, obtaining a center fielder, and re-signing Shane Victorino for right field, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Instead, the Dodgers acquired Victorino, and the Giants traded for Pence.
- Marlins right-hander Josh Johnson drew interest from the Rangers, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Reds and others, but Miami kept him, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports writes (on Twitter).
- GM Mike Rizzo said the Nationals made all their splashy moves this past winter, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports. "We like who we are, and we like where we’re at and we like the composition of the roster,” Rizzo said.
Links from the AL East, which remains the only division without a sub-.500 team...
- The Rays are 'cooler' on the idea of trading James Shields, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (onTwitter). It's difficult for Tampa Bay to act as a buyer because the positions at which they might seek upgrades, shortstop and catcher, are positions of scarcity in MLB.
- Ty Wigginton isn't at the top of the Yankees' list of potentially useful third basemen, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). The Yankees are looking for someone who can provide defense at the hot corner.
- The Yankees haven't contacted the Rockies about Rafael Betancourt, and it's doubtful the Rockies will trade him at all, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (on Twitter). The Orioles, Athletics, Rangers,Braves, Red Sox and Blue Jays have all been linked to Betancourt.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman said the Yankees can't take on a substantial contract, so Bryan Hoch of MLB.com says Yankees fans shouldn't expect to see Cliff Lee in navy pinstripes anytime soon (Twitter links). Cashman said it's possible but unlikely that the Yankees will make a trade before tomorrow's deadline, Hoch writes. "I highly doubt it," the GM said.
- The Blue Jays are unlikely to complete a trade for Marlins right-hander Josh Johnson, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter). The Marlins expect to keep Johnson instead of trading him.
- Here are the latest Red Sox-related rumors.
The Marlins told teams today they're going to keep Josh Johnson barring something unforeseen, reports ESPN's Jayson Stark. The 28-year-old is under contract through 2013. Johnson has been healthy this year, though his strikeout rate and fastball velocity are down and he's allowed more hits than innings pitched. The Marlins wouldn't be trading him at peak value, but it never hurts to listen.
The Red Sox are in extra innings against the Yankees as they try to get back to .500. Currently 50-51, Boston is 4.5 games back from a wild card spot. Here are the latest off-the-field rumblings...
- The Red Sox have explored the possibility of trading Josh Beckett, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. One general manager told Heyman it's "unlikely" that a team would take on Beckett, who would have to waive his 10-and-5 rights to facilitate a deal. As Heyman points out, however, Beckett's mediocre numbers and large contract make it likely that he'd clear waivers and be eligible for an August trade.
- One Major League executive insisted to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com that the Red Sox are "trying to dump" Beckett but it's unlikely they'd be able to find a taker without a big discount.
- Edes writes that the Red Sox aren't willing to part with the type of prospects they would need to surrender in order to acquire Josh Johnson from the Marlins.
- Edes also hears that the Red Sox are shopping Ryan Sweeney.
- The Red Sox were in on Francisco Liriano all the way to the end before the Twins dealt him to the White Sox, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
If the Rays trade James Shields, they'd be looking to exceed the package of prospects the Brewers obtained for Zack Greinke, according to Jon Heyman. Greinke, who was traded for prospects Jean Segura, Ariel Pena and John Hellweg, is headed for free agency, but Shields is under team control through 2014 with a pair of club options. The Cardinals, Braves, Dodgers, Indians and Rangers are among the teams with interest in Shields. Here are the latest rumors surrounding the 30-year-old. The most recent items are up top:
- Teams have started to wonder how serious the Rays are about trading Shields, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports.
- The Rangers don't believe Shields will be traded, so they could focus on relief help instead of attempting to add to their rotation, MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan reports.
- The Rangers were far more interested in Shields than Josh Johnson even before Johnson walked six Padres today, Scott Miller of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).
- Manager Joe Maddon says he doesn't expect the Rays to make any deals, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. "We talk a lot and it always takes two to dance, and at the end of the day it's difficult to match up all the time," Maddon said. "So I would bet that nothing really happens.''
- ESPN.com's Buster Olney reported today that some executives believe the Rays will trade Shields before the trade deadline.
Cole Hamels, Zack Greinke and Matt Garza are off the trade market, which leaves Josh Johnson at or near the top of the list of potentially available starting pitchers. The Marlins will listen to trade offers for Johnson, who's under contract through 2013 at $13.75MM per season, but the team’s asking price remains high. Here are the latest updates on Johnson and the Marlins, with the most recent notes up top:
- The Rangers aren't interested in Johnson and the Red Sox are "not engaged," Peter Gammons of MLB Network writes (on Twitter). It's unlikely that any team will offer a package that tempts the Marlins to part with him.
- The Rangers aren't that high on Johnson, MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan reports.
- The Rangers have interest in Johnson, but they aren't close to meeting the Marlins' asking price, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and MLB Network Radio reports (on Twitter).
- The Red Sox sent top scout Gary Hughes to see Johnson's start today, Bowden reports (on Twitter).
- ESPN.com's Buster Olney reported today that the Marlins aren't especially motivated to trade Johnson.
The results of Josh Johnson’s start against the Padres and Roy Halladay’s start against the Braves could have major consequences for the trade market, ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark writes. More than a dozen scouts are on hand to watch Johnson pitch in Miami today, while Halladay is attempting to prevent the Braves from sweeping the Phillies out of town and, possibly, out of the playoff mix. Here are the details from Stark:
- MLB executives are wary of Johnson’s past shoulder troubles, his career-high ERA and his diminishing fastball velocity, but no other available starter has his kind of stuff. The Marlins continue to look for a “dream package” for Johnson and they’re prepared to keep him if no club meets their asking price, Stark reports.
- The Rangers seem especially cautious about Johnson, but they have people watching his start today. The Marlins told the Rangers they aren’t interested in discussing a trade unless Mike Olt is involved, yet the Rangers haven’t been willing to make Olt available.
- As of last night, the Phillies were telling clubs they haven’t decided how they’ll approach the deadline. They’ve likely done enough talking to trade Shane Victorino, Joe Blanton, Juan Pierre and Ty Wigginton in short order if necessary, Stark writes.
- The Phillies continue dangling Hunter Pence, but seem intent on waiting until the offseason to start serious trade discussions.
- Philadelphia could keep its trade chips for now and make moves in August, when players have to be placed on waivers to be dealt.
A player’s contract status can affect his trade value substantially this time of year, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney writes. Players under team-friendly contracts, like Denard Span, are much harder to acquire in trades. "It's really hard to place a value on a contract like that," one GM told Olney. Here are Olney’s latest notes from around MLB:
- The Blue Jays say Yunel Escobar has been a good team guy for them, despite his reputation as a difficult player. Escobar is under contract for $5MM per season through 2013 and his contract includes two club options valued at $5MM each for 2014-15. That’s good value for a 29-year-old who handles an up-the-middle position and has a history of providing league-average offense, Olney writes.
- There’s interest in James Shields, but the Rays could decide to hold their pitching staff together to make a run at the playoffs if Evan Longoria’s rehab assignment goes well. Some executives believe the Rays will trade Shields this month, according to Olney.
- The Marlins aren’t especially motivated to trade Josh Johnson, Olney writes. They’re content to keep him if they don’t get the trade offers they’re looking for.
- Anything the Indians do now will be done to help them win in 2013, not just in 2012.
- The Padres aren’t far down the road in trade talks regarding Chase Headley, Olney tweets. San Diego might table trade talks until the winter, he suggests.