Today in Blue Jays history.
Twelve Years Ago:
A.J. Burnett opted out of his Blue Jays contract. 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. As a Yankee, his last season went 11-11 with a 5.15 ERA in 32 starts. The Yankees traded him (and 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 will cheer when the Death Star blows up.
Eight Years Ago:
The Jays made a massive 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 last 10-15 years’ trades, 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 the 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. Maybe he decided the other way just doesn’t work. It started us down an enjoyable 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. After that, he got better 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. Mark 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, 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, 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, Braves again and, this past season, Nationals. He’s the only player who came over from the Marlins, who played in 2020.
- John Buck was included in the trade for R.A. Dickey. He wasn’t terrific, 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, 17-17 with a 3.23 ERA in 51. Injuries have derailed his career. He made 3 starts for the Philles in 2017 and has 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. Since then, he has been a Pirate, Yankee, Met, and Brave, getting into 27 games with them in 2020.
- 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. In 2020 he was playing for the Mets.
- 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. In 2019 he was 9-9 with a 3.89 ERA in 31 starts. 2020 saw him getting into 9 games, 7 starts with a 7.22 ERA.
- 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. He hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2017.
- Jeff Mathis played 4 seasons with the Marlins, hit .195/.252/.292 in 210 games. He’s had 2 with the Diamondbacks and the last two seasons with the Rangers, hitting .159 in that time.
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 deal. The trade came out of a need to get rid of Yunel Escobar, after his black eye incident.
Five 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.