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Three thoughts on the morning after the blockbuster

Tweet [1]

Let’s assume a dozen players are about to pass their physicals with no deal-breaking complications. If that happens, the blockbuster will be complete, the Blue Jays will have a reconstructed roster, and the Marlins will have hit the reset button on last winter’s ill-conceived spending spree.

It’s a massive trade, one that came after little more than minor rumbles about Toronto being interested in starting pitching and the Marlins looking to lose some salary. Josh Johnson is the headliner, but the deal is full of recognizable names, and the Marlins best remaining player has made his thoughts clear with a single tweet: [2]

Alright, I’m (ticked) off!!! Plain & Simple

I might be able to use the word he used, but I’ll play it safe on this one. The point comes across either way. There’s plenty to think about in the wake of this trade, and the ramifications certainly trickle down to the Yankees and the rest of baseball. It’s going to take a while to fully wrap our heads around it, but here are three things that we’ve already learned in the wake of last night’s megadeal.

[3]The American League East isn’t so top-heavy these days
The Orioles almost won the division this year, and the Red Sox finished in last place. The American League East isn’t what it used to be, and it’s clear that the Blue Jays have noticed. I have no idea whether the Orioles can repeat what they did this season, but I’m also not sure the Red Sox can completely rebuild in a single year. I know the Rays are perpetually dealing with budget constraints, and the Yankees are feeling the weight of their previous spending.

Toronto’s blockbuster proves that the lights are on and the monsters are gone. There’s nothing to be afraid of any more. The Rays broke through five years ago, the Orioles broke through this year and now the Blue Jays are ready to take their turn.

Spending money guarantees nothing in this game
Last winter, the Marlins were the big spenders, and it was a sight to see. Armed with a new stadium and renewed hope, the Marlins made splash after splash. They signed Heath Bell. Then they signed Jose Reyes. Then Mark Buehrle. Now all three are gone. First Bell in a salary dump to the Diamondbacks, then Reyes and Buehrle in the blockbuster.

Why? Because the Marlins overhauled roster lost 93 games, finished in last place and decided to start over rather than patch the holes and give it another shot. Player development. Roster construction. Individual performance. Injury prevention. Blind luck. These things also play a role in a team’s success. Money can certainly help, but if it’s spent the wrong way, it can do plenty of harm as well.

Alex Rodriguez will not be traded this winter
Dumping salary is much easier in theory than in practice, and the Yankees third baseman has the worst contract in sports. Finding a team to take him would be remarkable, and getting anything in return might be even more difficult. The Marlins salary dump showed just how difficult it is to move bad contracts: To make the deal work and get value in return, Miami had to include an in-his-prime ace, which is the most valuable commodity in the sport.

Even if the Yankees did have a hope of trading Rodriguez, Miami was the one team that most often floated in such speculation, and now it’s clear that the Marlins are going the opposite direction. Even if the Marlins did decide that taking on a high-profile player like Rodriguez makes sense — and clearly they have some payroll space available — is there any chance Rodriguez would waive his no-trade protection to play for a team that’s in the process of a massive rebuilding effort?

Associated Press photo