Trade Analysis: Miami Mess Has Silver Lining

The Miami Marlins are a perplexing organization at the moment. On one hand, this week's trade is a devastating blow to a fan base that was promised the world last off-season. On the other hand, from a pure baseball standpoint, there are are players headed to Miami from Toronto to be relatively excited about.

This is a difficult trade to wrap your head around. The sheer amount of Major League talent, money, as well as prospects changing hands is massive. Not to mention, the turnaround in approach from the Miami Marlins in a year's time is highly perplexing, and in many ways embarrassing. With that being said, the haul of young players the Marlins are receiving in return is quite solid. Before going any further, let's review the players reportedly involved in the deal.

Blue Jays Get: Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio, John Buck

Marlins Get: Yunel Escobar, Adeiny Hechavarria, Henderson Alvarez, Justin Nicolino, Jake Marisnick, Jeff Mathis, Anthony DeSclafani

It's a huge trade to say the least. And, the first thing that has to be addressed is how it impacts the Marlins' image publicly. The damage is about as bad as it gets from that perspective. After appearing to make a serious commitment to success last off-season, all this type of deal represents is a white flag for the foreseeable future. Miami's ownership had a dubious reputation in this regard to begin with, and this move certainly doesn't help. You cannot unload an ace pitcher, a star shortstop, and a high quality left-handed starter all in one deal and expect your fans to be happy about it.

But, if you're a frustrated Miami fan, there is more than a small silver lining to this head scratching deal. Yes, they're getting a massive amount of payroll off the books, but that's not really the type of positive news any Marlins' supporter wants to hear right now. The real upside to the deal is the young players they received in return. And, the potential centerpiece may be 21-year-old southpaw, Justin Nicolino. I evaluated Nicolino back in March and had this to say:
"Nicolino seemed to be able to put his fastball wherever he wanted, working both sides of the plate and living at the knees. What made him so incredibly difficult, though, were his secondary pitches. He was more than willing to go to either his changeup or curveball to begin an at-bat or when he was behind in a count.

First, let's talk about Nicolino's changeup. This is clearly his best pitch and is currently a 60 on the 20-80 scale and flashes 70 potential. It's going to be a true plus-plus offering at the next level and he already shows tremendous command of it. It has so much fade and diving action that he's comfortable throwing it to lefties as well. Thrown at 79-81 mph, it also has more than enough differential to be a swing and miss offering.

The curveball is another potential above average offering for Nicolino. He throws it at 72-74 with good depth and 11-5 action. It's currently an average pitch, but if he can tighten it up the plus potential is there. But, it's yet another weapon that he's very comfortable in locating.

When he's at full strength, Nicolino will be working around 90-92 mph and will bump 93 at times. Put that together with his plus command, dominant changeup and quality breaking ball, and you have a pitcher that profiles near the front of a rotation."


Jake Marisnick, Adeiny Hechavarria, and Anthony DeSclafani provide some excitement in the Marlins' end of the deal as well. Of that group, Marisnick has the type of tools to be an above average big leaguer. DeSclafani has the type of mid 90s arm and slider to pitch near the back of a bullpen, and Hechavarria is a wizard in the field. But, the reality is that this trade hinges on Nicolino and Marisnick for Miami. And, given that Toronto reportedly will eat the vast majority of the salaries of Reyes, Buehrle, and Johnson, the price Miami received in terms of talent is more than fair. But, everyone in baseball also knows that that money saved is likely to remain in ownership's pockets.

And, finally, from Toronto's perspective, they should be loudly applauded. Any team can go out and aggressively pursue trades and land big names. Toronto did it without bankrupting their talent rich farm system. They will miss Justin Nicolino in particular, but it's a more than fair price to pay for two cornerstone players like Josh Johnson and Jose Reyes, not to mention the other big leaguers involved in the trade.

The potentially dormant juggernauts of the division, the Yankees and Red Sox, may have a new threat to contend with north of the border in 2013.

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