TORONTO — The agonizing wait is over, and the blockbuster Toronto Blue Jays fans have waited on is at long last complete.
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig on Monday afternoon approved the 12-player megadeal with the Miami Marlins that shifts the balance of power in the AL East, a lengthy evaluation revealing no reason to “exercise of any of my powers to prevent its completion.”
Jose Bautista: “My level of confidence as an athlete has just been quadrupled and I don’t say that lightly. I mean, it’s the honest truth”
Word of the trade that sends shortstop Jose Reyes, starters Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, utlityman Emilio Bonifacio, catcher John Buck and cash considerations first leaked out Tuesday, and the paperwork needed to finalize the matter didn’t arrive at the commissioner’s office until Friday afternoon.
Selig wanted to give the matter proper consideration before offering his stamp of approval, first asking his Baseball Operations Department and Labor Relations Department to compare the exchange with other similar deals, and seeking the opinion of other experienced executives.
Fired up this is really happening.. More fuel to the fire to be the best!! Also hearing about season ticket sales. Guess fans are ready too!
“It is my conclusion that this transaction, involving established major-leaguers and highly regarded young players and prospects, represents the exercise of plausible baseball judgment on the part of both clubs, does not violate any express rule of Major League Baseball and does not otherwise warrant the exercise of any of my powers to prevent its completion,” he said in a statement. “It is, of course, up to the clubs involved to make the case to their respective fans that this transaction makes sense and enhances the competitive position of each, now or in the future.”
The Blue Jays will have little trouble doing that, sending shortstops Yunel Escobar and Adeiny Hechavarria, right-hander Henderson Alvarez, catcher Jeff Mathis and prospects Justin Nicolino (a lefty), Jake Marisnick (a centre-fielder) and Anthony DeScalfani (a righty).
General manager Alex Anthopoulos will make his first public comments on the franchise-changing move during a news conference Tuesday morning, although the team said it didn’t anticipate any of the new players to be in attendance.
Programming alert: Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos will address the media on Tuesday morning at 9:30 a.m. ET. The press conference will be carried live on Sportsnet, sportsnet.ca and Sportsnet 590 The Fan. | Follow Sportsnet on Twitter
Still, the additions had existing Blue Jays buzzing all week, and the confirmation ended their cone of silence.
“Going into next year, we were all going to be excited about our team, and now all this happens, and I guess a nice way to put it, and a humble way to say it, is that my level of confidence as an athlete has just been quadrupled and I don’t say that lightly,” Jose Bautista said in an interview. “I mean, it’s the honest truth.”
Two shoes are still to drop.
The contract for free agent outfielder Melky Cabrera, who agreed Friday to a US$16 million, two-year deal, is still pending a physical, while the Blue Jays have yet to name a manager.
The delay in approval of the blockbuster led to much hand-wringing among the Blue Jays fan-base, but was largely a product of the sensitive line Selig had to walk in Miami, as the Marlins undid their spending splurge from last winter despite the new revenue streams generated by a new taxpayer funded stadium.
A legitimate concern is Miami’s experience could turn off future cities from helping build venues out of fear that their tax dollars not be rewarded with a similar investment from ownership.
“I fully understand that the Miami community has done its part to put the Marlins into a position to succeed with beautiful new Marlins Park,” said Selig. “Going forward, I will continue to monitor this situation with the expectation that the Marlins will take into account the sentiments of their fans, who deserve the best efforts and considered judgment of their club. I have received assurances from the ownership of the Marlins that they share these beliefs and are fully committed to build a long-term winning team that their fans can be proud of.”
While Selig is monitoring the rubble left behind in Miami, the Blue Jays were already thinking about all the promise that lies before them.
Even with a week to digest the news, the euphoria of GM Alex Anthopoulos’s bold strokes has yet to ebb.
“It’s tough to put into words how excited I am and how pumped I am,” said left-hander Ricky Romero. “I really didn’t expect this. If you talk to everyone in our clubhouse, it caught everyone by surprise. You thought he’d make a move here, a move there like he has in years past, but to be able to do this kind of move is unreal.”
As exciting as the boost in talent is for Romero, so too are the trickle-down effects of the additions to the roster such as relieving pressure on the rest of the core, creating more balance and adding a bit of mystique to facing the Blue Jays.
“Obviously it’s going to be in their heads that we’re for real and we’re coming in to prove a point,” said Romero. “We had a good team before but with these additions it makes us even better, we’re bringing in elite players with superstar status. Other teams notice we’re getting better and the target on us is going to be that much bigger, teams are going to want to come in and prove, ‘Hey, these guys are not that good, let’s kick their butts.’ That’s the mentality I feel teams are going to take against us and we’ve got to be prepared for those challenges.”