Today in Blue Jays history.
Eleven Years Ago:
A.J. Burnett opted out of his Blue Jays contract. Back in 2006, the Jays signed Burnett to a 5-year, $55 million contract, which included a player opt out after the third season. In those 3 seasons, Burnett had a 38-26 record and a 3.94 ERA in 81 games, 80 starts. His best season was the third, he went 18-10 with a 4.07 ERA in 34 starts. It was the only season, of the three, where he didn’t miss time with an injury.
He signed with the Yankees, 5 years, $82.5 million. We had this poll:
As it turned out, we were right.
With the Yankees, he pitched 3 seasons, had a 34-35 record and a 4.79 ERA.. In his last season as a Yankee, he was 11-11 with a 5.15 ERA in 32 starts. After that, the Yankees traded him (and a lot of cash) to the Pirates, where he was much better, going 35-28 with a 3.70 ERA in 87 starts. There was also a season with the Phillies mixed in there, where he went 8-18 with a 4.59 ERA. He came back to the Pirates for the 2015 season and retired after.
We took a fair be of glee in his troubles with the Yankees. Sorry A.J., but when you join the Evil Empire, you have to understand we are going to cheer when the Death Star blows up.
Seven Years Ago:
The Jays made a huge trade with the Marlins:
As it stands now, the Marlins will send right-hander Josh Johnson, left-hander Mark Buehrle, shortstop Jose Reyes, outfielder Emilio Bonifacio, and catcher John Buck 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.
This was Alex’s first big win now trade. He had made big trades before that, but they were the get rid of big contracts, get prospects, type trades. This trade got people excited about the Jays for the first time in years.
The “Do you approve of this trade?” poll came out 88% yes, 4% no and 8% unsure (damn fence sitters).
When I think about the trades of the last 10-15 years, I don’t consider this is one of the most important. I would think the Bautista trade is at the top. But then this one got us thinking the team could win. It didn’t really push the needle in a baseball sense, but it did in a public opinion way. It showed the franchise that making a push could get the fans excited and coming to the park. And it changed Alex from being in a build up the system to a win now mode.
Before this trade Alex talked about having a team with a minor league system that gives us a team that can compete for a long term. After this trade the farm system became something that we used to get older players who could win now. Perhaps he got impatient. Perhaps he decided the other way just doesn’t work. It started us down a very fun path.
The players we picked up:
- Josh Johnson was either terrible or hurt. He was so bad that we didn’t give him a qualifying offer after the 2013 season.
- Mark Buehrle started the 2013 season in an awful slump, hitting bottom with a 7.02 ERA after his May 6th start. He got better after that, with ERAs of 3.50 in June, 2.75 in July and 2.70 in August but we dig too deep a hole to hope to contend that year. He pitched for us for 3 seasons, going 40-28 with a 3.78 ERA. In 2015, he was 15-8 with a 3.81 ERA in 32 starts (198.2 innings, missing 200 innings for the first time since his rookie season), but the team left him off the playoff roster. He lasted longer as a Jay than any of the players we got from the Marlins.
- Jose Reyes wrecked his ankle on April 12th of the 2013 season, missed over two months of baseball and, when he came back, seemed afraid to push off on that ankle for the longest time, but he did finish off the season well. He wasn’t exactly loved by Jays fans, and he was traded to the Rockies, in the middle of the 2015 season (along with Jesus Tinoco. Miguel Castro and Jeff Hoffman) for Troy Tulowitzki and LaTroy Hawkins. As a Jay he hit .289/.334/.404 with 61 steals, but played terrible defense. Since then he’s been with the Mets.
- Emilio Bonifacio was awful, both defensively and offensively and was traded to the Royals for the change they found in their couch cushions. There he started to play much the way we hoped he would play for us. Since then he’s played for the Cubs, Braves, White Sox and Braves again.
- John Buck was included in the trade for R.A. Dickey. He wasn’t very good, with the Mets, but then a better version of not very good than what we got out of J.P. Arencibia. He went from the Mets to the Pirates, then Mariners and Dodgers but was out of baseball after the 2014 season.
The guys we sent to Florida?
- Yunel Escobar was flipped to the Rays for Derek Dietrich. He went from the Rays to the Nationals and then the Angels, playing pretty decent where ever he went. He played in 89 games in 2017, and that looks to be the end of his career.
- Henderson Alvarez pitched parts of 3 seasons with the Marlins, going 17-17 with a 3.23 ERA in 51 starts. Injuries have derailed his career. He made 3 starts for the Philles in 2017. He’s been pitching in Mexico the last few years.
- Adeiny Hechavarria played 5 and a half seasons with the Marlins before being traded, to the Rays, in the middle of the 2017 season. As a Marlin, he hit .255/.278/.336 in 599 games. Last year he split time between the Rays, Pirates and Yankees. This year he played for the Mets and the Braves.
- Jake Marisnick was a Marlin for a season and a bit, before being traded to the Astros. He was injured, so he missed out on the playoffs, but he got a World Series ring. Over the past 7 seasons, with the Marlins and Astros, he’s hit .227/.280/.380 with 73 steals, in 685 games played. He got a World Series ring with the Astros, but he was injured and didn’t get to play in the playoffs.
- Anthony DeSclafani pitched 33 innings for the Marlins, in 2014 and then was traded to the Reds. He made 51 starts for them, going 18-18 with a 3.74 ERA. He missed all of 2017 with an elbow injury and then made 21 starts for them in 2018, going 7-8 with a 4.93 ERA. This year he was 9-9 with a 3.89 ERA in 31 starts.
- Justin Nicolino pitched 3 seasons for the Marlins. He came up to the major league team in 2015. In his 3 seasons, he has a 10-13 record and a 4.65 ERA in 50 games, 33 starts. This past year he pitched in Triple A for the White Sox and Twins.
- Jeff Mathis played 4 seasons with the Marlins, hit .195/.252/.292 in 210 games. He’s had 2 with the Diamondbacks and then this year played with the Rangers, hitting .158/.209/.224 with 2 home runs in 86 games.
It’s really too bad that we can’t see an alternative timeline where we don’t make that trade. I guess you could play Out of the Park Baseball, starting before the trade and see what happens without the trade. The trade came out of a need to get rid of Yunel Escobar, after his eye black incident.
Four Years Ago:
The Jays signed Marco Estrada to a 2-year, $26 million contract. We wondered at the time if he could give us valve for the deal. Well, FanGraphs has him at a value of $23.8 million for 2016 and $20.7 million for 2018, so I think we can say we got value for the contract.
We signed him to a one-year $13 million extension for 2018. He put up a 5.64 ERA in 28 starts. This year he played for the A’s, but missed a lot of time with injuries.