Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Last November, the Miami Marlins decided to disassemble most of the team in a massive trade with the Toronto Blue Jays. The Marlins dumped almost every big name and contract to the Blue Jays in exchange for prospects, but the Marlins may have the last laugh.
One of the headlining names in the trade was Marlins pitcher Josh Johnson. The former All-Star went to Toronto with big plans, but he’s ended up being more of a bust this year in Toronto than he was last year for Miami.
At this point in the season, Johnson is 1-6 on the season with a 5.66 ERA in 68.1 innings pitched over just 13 games. For comparison, Johnson was 8-14 for Miami in 31 starts last year and had an ERA of 3.81. Johnson also becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2013 season.
Starting pitcher Mark Buehrle was also sent to Toronto after an unspectacular, but solid season in Miami. Buehrle’s ERA has skyrocketed in Toronto to 4.83 and his record is just 5-7 in 20 appearances this year.
Buehrle has been his normal workhorse self, but after going 13-13 last season, he’s just 31-29 over his last three seasons and his ERA has risen each year since 2011. In addition, Buehrle is owed $27 million over the next two seasons by the Blue Jays after Toronto took on his back-loaded contract from Miami.
He’ll be 37-years-old when he finishes out his current contract with the Blue Jays.
The top position player in the trade from Miami to Toronto was former All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes. In his first season in Toronto, Reyes has appeared in just 33 games and has a .321 average with just 17 RBI’s and 10 stolen bases.
Reyes is only 30 and could return to form if he can get past injury problems, but Toronto is on the hook for $82 million on his contract until 2017, the team has a buyout option in 2018 of $4 million. So, Reyes could collect nearly $90 million from the Blue Jays on his current contract.
Emilio Bonifacio was included in the Toronto trade and while he’s appeared in the most games for the Blue Jays of the players traded from Miami, his numbers have been abysmal. Bonifacio has played in 82 games this year, but is hitting just .211 with 15 RBI’s and 11 stolen bases.
The Marlins took on infielders Yunel Escobar and Adeiny Hechavarria, pitchers Henderson Alvarez, Anthony DeSclafani, Justin Nicolino, catcher Jeff Mathis, and outfielder Jake Marisnick. The Marlins followed the Toronto trade up by sending Escobar to Tampa for infielder Derek Dietrich.
Hechavarria has turned into the Marlins everyday shortstop and has responded by hitting .253 on the season with 16 extra base hits and 25 RBI’s. Hechavarria has struggled at the plate, but has raised his average from .232 on July 9 to .253 through July 23.
The Marlins had to wait awhile to get Alvarez on the mound due to injuries. He’s pitched in four games since July 4th and is 0-1 with a 3.28 ERA. While his strikeout-walk ratio of 11-7 needs work, he is still only 23-years-old this year.
Alvarez is allowing opponents to hit .287 against this season, which is on part with career Major League average of .284. But, his 3.28 ERA is more than a full run below his career major league average of 4.41.
Nicolino is 5-3 in the minors this season, but struggled in his first start in Double-A ball for the Jacksonville, giving up six runs in just three innings in his first start. Nicolino is 21-years-old and had a 2.23 ERA across 18 starts in high-A ball before coming to the Jacksonville Suns.
Finally, Jake Marisnick was called up to the Marlins main squad on Tuesday and while he went 0-4 in his debut, the Marlins have high hopes for the outfielder. Marisnick hit .289 with 12 home runs and 46 RBI’s across Single-A and Double-A ball before getting called up by the Marlins.
If Marisnick can improve and stay in the majors for the rest of the season, he will form a solid and very young outfield for the Marlins moving forward. Marisnick would be in the same outfield with slugger Giancarlo Stanton and top prospect Christian Yelich.
The Marlins took a lot of grief in the immediate aftermath of the salary dump. But, by the end of the season, Marlins management may be able to sit back and toast a team full of potential stars while Toronto writes a lot of big checks to aging veterans.
The real test will be if the Marlins can develop the players, will management finally break down and pay to keep the stars in South Florida. Or, will Marlins fans be watching Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton win MVP’s elsewhere like they did last year with Miguel Cabrera in Detroit.