11:39 PM EST, November 13, 2012
Almost 12 years later, the White Sox finally may have made things right with the Blue Jays for sending them left-hander Mike Sirotka, who hurt his shoulder and never made another big league start after that trade.
The Sox were not a party to the joke of a deal that the Marlins were finalizing with the Blue Jays on Tuesday night. But only because they made a dubious decision a year earlier will the Jays look to assemble their 2013 starting rotation behind Mark Buehrle.
The White Sox should have signed Buehrle to a contract extension but instead put their money on Jake Peavy and the younger lefty in John Danks, who held up for only nine starts before going down with a shoulder injury. Was that karma for them sending Sirotka to the Jays in a trade for David Wells?
Doesn't matter now. What does matter is that Buehrle will be back in the American League after a shocking South Florida salary dump is deemed official. It is expected to include Jose Reyes and Josh Johnson.
The Blue Jays feel they can go to the World Series behind a rotation that will include Buehrle, Johnson, Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow. It was the Marlins and Jeffrey Loria who puffed out their chests after signing Reyes, Buehrle and Heath Bell as free agents last December, but like manager Ozzie Guillen those guys have all put Miami behind them.
Marlins fans must wish Loria had traded himself. The guy who drove the final nail in the Montreal Expos' coffin should be ashamed of himself for his binge-and-purge style of management that followed the completion of his $634-million, publicly funded art deco stadium in Miami's Little Havana.
Bell was traded to the Diamondbacks on Oct. 20. Guillen was fired on Oct. 23. And three weeks later, the Marlins have agreed to a trade that sends Reyes, Buehrle, Johnson, catcher John Buck and versatile switch hitter Emilio Bonifacio to the Blue Jays, no doubt leaving MVP-in-waiting Giancarlo Stanton feeling as hurt and angry as fans who purchased Marlins season tickets in the last couple of years.
In return for the five veterans, the Marlins are expected to get right-hander Henderson Alvarez, shortstop Yunel Escobar — who was fined for wearing a pejorative on his face in eye black during a game — another Cuban infielder in Adeiny Hechavarria, catcher Jeff Mathis, center fielder Jake Marisnick, left-hander Justin Nicolino and right-hander Anthony DeSclafani, among others.
That's it. Take the veterans being traded off the Marlins table and they could open next season with a payroll well below $50 million, less than half what it was at the start of last season. It won't be long until fans are talking about this year's 69-93 finish under Guillen as the good old days.
Will this be a death blow for a franchise that was struggling to gain a foothold? You wonder.
There will be cries for Commissioner Bud Selig to stop the trade, but it is the exact same kind of trade the Red Sox made with the Dodgers in August. Not much money will change hands in the transaction, just contracts, with the Blue Jays expected to assume about $158 million for nine guaranteed seasons (five for Reyes, three for Buehrle, one for Johnson).
Buehrle, who turns 34 next March, was a rare bright spot for the Marlins. He was 13-13 with a 3.74 ERA last season, the 12th year in a row he has had double-figure victories, 30-plus starts and 200-plus innings. Guillen lined him up behind Johnson to start last season but the MLB Network's Mitch Williams suggests that the Blue Jays' next manager — they haven't yet hired a replacement for John Farrell, who embarrassed his franchise when he asked to be allowed to go to the Red Sox — look on Buehrle as his ace.
Williams says Buehrle can provide a strong presence that will "take the pressure off'' Johnson, Romero and Morrow, all of whom have No. 1 starter stuff. The Blue Jays see the Yankees as being vulnerable and believe they can join the Orioles and Rays in taking advantage of this chance to win.
The two best things about this trade for the Blue Jays are adding Reyes' speed in front of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion and gaining Buehrle's leadership for a pitching staff that has been a tease. Now that they're in the same league, it will be interesting to see if Danks (28 in April) can bounce back to out-pitch former teammate. Or should we say his old teammate.
Because his free-agent deal was backloaded, Buehrle is owed $48 million over three years. That's a lot. But he had a 3.79 ERA in his three starts against AL teams last year. His track record says he's still a safe bet, maybe one of the safest in baseball. It's nice to see that he's not going down with Loria's ship.