It was a bomb that dropped on Major League Baseball, and notably the American League East, in a matter of 24 hours when the Miami Marlins decided to hold an all-out fire sale on its talent. After the team made national headlines last winter by signing free-agent All-Stars Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, and Heath Bell to big deals, Miami ownership decided to cut all of their losses and slash their payroll. Miami dealt Reyes, Buehrle, and pitcher Josh Johnson to Toronto as part of a 12-player deal – a deal in which the Toronto Blue Jays gave up practically nothing to receive.
2012 was a disaster for the Marlins as the team prepared to open its new stadium and look in South Beach. Miami stumbled out of the gates and never recovered, shedding players and salaries throughout the season before last week’s big trade. To the Miami fans, it’s as if management simply gave up the desire to compete any longer and only cared about the profit line. From an outside perspective, many wonder if the Marlins and ownership will ever regain the fan base’s trust.
But today is about the Toronto Blue Jays. The team has long been a cellar-dweller in the loaded AL East behind the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and as of late, the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles. In fact, the team has finished fourth in the division the last five seasons and has only finished above third place once since their World Series win in 1993 (2006). It’s been a hard two decades for the Canadian team.
As any successful person does, the Blue Jays saw an opportunity and pounced. By bringing in All-Star talent at a basement-bargain price, Toronto is poised to compete in 2012 for the first time since 2006. The team followed up the major trade by signing free-agent Melky Cabrera to bolster their outfield. And the off-season is just warming up.
Fellow AL East teams are taking note and can’t overlook the team north of the border any longer. The division is “up for grabs” by any team in the division for the first time in decades.