It is happening again. The Miami Marlins, who twice have blown up their roster after winning a World Series, didn't even bother with the championship part this week. Instead, they shipped veterans Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck to Toronto for starting shortstop Yunel Escobar, starting pitcher Henderson Alvarez, catcher Jeff Mathis and four prospects.
You actually can defend the trade as a pure baseball move. The Marlins signed Reyes and Buehrle to long contracts last winter. But Reyes has a checkered injury history and turns 30 in June. Buehrle turns 34 in March, and while he's a reliable lefty, he is nowhere near worth the deal he signed. Johnson missed most of 2011 after shoulder surgery and is a free agent after next season.
Remember, Miami already had traded third baseman Hanley Ramirez, second baseman Omar Infante and starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez this summer when it was well on the way to a last-place finish in the National League East. Even with all those veterans it is unlikely the Marlins were close to contending in 2013.
In return they plug two holes with Escobar and Alvarez -- and get three of Toronto's top 10 prospects in the process. The farm system is in far better shape after several promising players came over from Los Angeles in the Ramirez deal and from Detroit in the Sanchez/Infante trade.
But that's for the future. For now, Miami's roster looks barren. Its fan base is in full revolt one year after the opening of a new stadium financed primarily by taxpayers, and free agents may steer clear of the team for years after seeing what happened to Buehrle and Reyes. And that's good news for the Nationals, Braves and Phillies in the National League East. Washington, especially, has long struggled with the Marlins. Even after winning 98 games in 2012, it was just 9-9 against Miami. Next year there are 19 games against an extremely vulnerable opponent. With the awful Astros moving out of the NL Central to the American League, Miami's implosion provides a key schedule advantage for the East's playoff contenders.
- Brian McNally