Prospect Trade: Why The Blue Jays Made Out So Well (and The Marlins Didn’t)
During my most recent workday here at MiLB.com on Saturday, I wrote about some top prospects that could be traded as we near next month’s Winter Meetings in Nashville. I mentioned about 10 names and … none of them were Blue Jays.
Well, the joke is on me.
If you haven’t already heard, this was our first major offseason trade involving talented Minor Leaguers, which was first broken by Fox Sports’ Morosi/Rosenthal team on Twitter last (Tuesday) night.
Blue Jays get: Veterans Jose Reyes (shortstop), Josh Johnson (righty starter), Mark Buehrle (lefty starter), Emilio Bonifacio (utility man) and John Buck (catcher).
Marlins get: Veteran Yunel Escobar (shortstop), rookie Henderson Alvarez (righty starter) and prospects Jake Marisnick (center fielder), Justin Nicolino (lefty starter), Anthony DeSclafani (righty starter) and Adeiny Hechavarria (shortstop).
Simply put (and not giving much consideration to the Major League veterans exchanged and committed money that changed hands, both of which are beyond my scope): The Blue Jays made out well.
Here is why: Yes, they yielded three of their top seven prospects, but none are what we would call blue-chip or elite-level prospects and Toronto’s system sports the depth to simply replace them. Let’s take these guys one at a time:
Player 1: Marisnick, who hasn’t produced consistent results above low-A, has yet to prove he can be an above-average hitter. The 2009 third-round draftee has quieted some concerns with his .837 OPS through 19 Arizona Fall League games, but he remains very much a work-in-progress in the batter’s box. His defensive and base-running skills were more impressive in 2012.
Player 2: Nicolino, a third of that Lansing trio, was pretty flawless in ’12, posting a 2.46 ERA in 28 games (22 starts) while sporting a 119-21 K-BB ratio. But if we’re looking for flaws, here is one: Unlike former rotation mates Noah Syndergaard and Aaron Sanchez, Nicolino doesn’t have blow-by, dominating stuff, as evidenced by his opponents’ .246 batting average. Nicolino does have very good stuff (fastball, curveball and plus changeup), he strikes me as the kind of guy who will be more limited (than Syndergaard and Sanchez) when he competes against Class A Advanced, Double-A, Triple-A and Major League hitters. Remember, he hasn’t faced any of them yet.
Replacements: In addition to Syndergaard and Sanchez, the Jays have Sean Nolin, Deck McGuire and John Stilson coming along as well as younger hurler-in-training Roberto Osuna. That still leaves ’11- and ’12-drafted lefty starters Daniel Norris and Matthew Smoral, both of whom have a chance to be as good as or better than Nicolino in the future.
Player 3: Hechavarria is among the best fielding shortstops in baseball (and no slouch as a base-stealer), but the Jays weren’t sold enough on his hit tool to install him as the long-term response to Escobar’s inevitable exit.
Replacements: In addition to the former Met Reyes, who may not finish his current contract in Toronto (the guess here is that he won’t), the Jays front office is very high on unranked farmhand Ryan Goins. Despite the fact that Goins has not played above Double-A — he posted a .289/.342/.403 line 136 games there last year — he is now seen as the heir apparent at the position.
I would also add this: The Toronto organization All-Stars piece I filed recently (and which will run the middle of next month) did not include any of the four Jays-turned-Marlins. It just so happens that Gose (outfield, over Marisnick), Nolin (lefty starter, over Nicolino), Goins (shortstop, over Hechavarria) and Syndergaard (right starter, over DeSclafani) all made the list.
That softens the blow of my last, short-sighted blog post. A little bit anyway.