By Juan C. Rodriguez Sun Sentinel
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The Miami Marlins’ front office continued to swing a sledgehammer at their underwhelming 2012 team, agreeing to trade starters Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, shortstop Jose Reyes, outfielder/infielder Emilio Bonifacio and catcher John Buck to the Toronto Blue Jays, a league source confirmed.
Among the players the Marlins are getting back in what amounts to a massive salary dump: shortstop Yunel Escobar, right-hander Henderson Alvarez, left-hander Justin Nicolino, and infielder Adeiny Hechavarria. Outfield prospect Jake Marisnick, right-handed pitching prospect Anthony DeSclafani and catcher Jeff Mathis also are part of the contingent heading to South Florida, a source said.
Because the Marlins also are sending $4 million to the Blue Jays, the Commissioner’s Office must approve the trade before the two sides announce it.
The transaction doesn’t appear to be sitting well with the club’s cornerstone player. Giancarlo Stanton Tweeted: “Alright, I’m pissed off!!! Plain &Simple.” Stanton is under team control through the 2016 season, but they organization’s latest derailing ultimately may impact his desire to remain here long term.
Logan Morrison also chimed in via Twitter, albeit more subtly than usual. He wrote: “I’m not gonna do what (every) body thinks I’m gonna do and freak out! Ugh, I need a bath.”
The Marlins are unloading $163.75 million in guaranteed contracts to Buck, Buehrle, Johnson and Reyes. Bonifacio, who was sidelined much of last season with injuries, is arbitration-eligible. He earned $2.2 million in 2012.
Reyes and Buehrle both signed free-agent contracts with the Marlins as part of a $191 million spending spree last offseason. Reyes is owed $96 million over the next five seasons and Buehrle is signed through 2015 for $48 million.
Heath Bell, the third member of that free agent binge, also is gone after a horrific season. The Marlins gave him a three-year, $27 million contract and earlier this offseason shipped him and $8 million to the Diamondbacks.
Johnson and Buck each have a year remaining on their contracts at $13.75 million and $6 million before qualifying for free agency.
At least new manager Mike Redmond will be familiar with his new charges. Redmond spent the last two seasons managing in the Blue Jays’ farm system before taking the Marlins’ job.
The demolition of the 2012 Marlins began in earnest in July, when the Marlins dealt Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers, and right-hander Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to the Tigers. The Marlins freed themselves of a more than $37 million obligation to Ramirez through 2015. Sanchez is a free agent, and Infante’s contract has one year and $4 million remaining.
Of the players the Marlins are receiving, only Escobar, Alvarez, Hechavarria and Mathis have major league experience. Escobar figures to be the club’s starting shortstop and Alvarez will compete for a rotation spot. A coveted Cuban defector in July 2009, Hechavarria made his big league debut in 2012 and saw time at second, third and short. Mathis figures to be Rob Brantly’s backup.
The most advanced of the prospects the Marlins acquired is Marisnick, who split 2012 between Redmond’s Dunedin team and Double-A New Hampshire. In the Eastern League he batted .233/.286/.336 in 223 at-bats. The Marlins likely have identified him as a possible long-term solution in center field.
Nicolino, a product of University High School in Orlando, spent his second pro season in 2012 in the low-A Midwest League. Baseball America before last season rated him the fifth-best prospect in the Blue Jays’ system, two spots behind Marisnick.
DeSclafani, a sixth-round pick out of the University of Florida in 2011, spent his first pro season in the Midwest League as well. He’ll likely pitch for Jupiter in 2013 along with Nicolino.