Remember that Marlins-Blue Jays trade from 2012? Toronto Blue Jays General Manager Alex Anthopoulos was looking to make a trade to turn Toronto into a playoff contender. Following a 73–89 record and finishing fourth in the AL East, the Blue Jays needed work. With budding stars like José Bautista and Edwin Encarnación, Anthopoulos sought complementary players to boost the lineup.
As for the Miami Marlins, they finished the season 69–93, which saw them finish last in the NL East. Marlins’ general manager Michael Hill wanted to bolster its depth. Fortunately for the Marlins, there were a few veteran pieces they could part with for a rebuild. As these two teams are heading in opposite directions, the blockbuster deal sent shockwaves around the baseball world.
The Marlins-Blue Jays Trade: November 19, 2012
For the record: Miami sent Mark Buehrle, José Reyes, Josh Johnson, John Buck and Emilio Bonifacio to Toronto in exchange for Henderson Alvarez, Adeiny Hechavarría, Yunel Escobar, Jake Marisnick, Anthony Desclafani, Justin Nicolino and Jeff Mathis.
A trade like this had all eyes on the Blue Jays as a contender moving forward.
More Moves from Toronto
While this move sent shockwaves across the league, there were other moves that Anthopoulos made during that offseason. Anthopoulos followed up with another trade- this time with the New York Mets, obtaining NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey. Buck was shipped to the Mets, Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, and Josh Thole Mick Nickeas. Following the trades, the Blue Jays were the betting favorites to win the World Series. A tall order for a team that had not made the playoffs since 1993. Despite the high expectations, the Blue Jays finished last in the division with a 74-88 record.
The trade was the largest in franchise history. It also opened a new era for the team, throttling them to contender status with back-to-back ALCS appearances.
The Blue Jays acquired Jose Reyes with five years left on his contract. He hit .287/.347/.433 with 11 home runs in 716 plate appearances in 2012. It wasn’t a batting line that was as impressive as the .337/.384/.493 he put up in his free agent year.
Upon his arrival in Toronto, Reyes was pinned as the spark atop the Blue Jays lineup. He never found his rhythm due to poor offensive skills and injuries. He hit .296/.353/.427 with a 113 OPS+ in his first year with Toronto. Reyes slipped to .287/.328/.398 in 2014, then a mere .285/.322/.385 with a 98 OPS+ in 2015.
After two and a half seasons, Reyes was part of the deal with the Colorado Rockies that brought Troy Tulowitzki and LaTroy Hawkins to Toronto. Both Rockies players were pivotal to the Blue Jays down the stretch in 2015 and helped lead the Blue Jays to their first playoff appearance since 1993.
When the Blue Jays acquired Mark Buehrle, he had a 3.74 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 31 starts for Miami the previous season. The left-hander was reliable in throwing more than 200 innings when healthy. He was a finesse pitcher with effective command. In 2013, he led Blue Jays starters with a 4.15 ERA in 203 2/3 innings pitched. Although Dickey was the staff’s ace, Buehrle was a great second option in the rotation. In 2014, he was an all-star with an ERA of 3.39 in 202 innings pitched and a record of 13-10. In his final season with the Blue Jays, Buehrle was 15-8 with an ERA of 3.81 in 198, and 2/3 innings pitched (the second time in his career he didn’t pitch over 200 innings). Following the 2015 season, Buehrle retired at the age of 36 and 16 seasons in the majors.
Emilio Bonafacio and Josh Johnson
The most shocking part of the Marlins-Blue Jays trade was when both Josh Johnson and Henderson Alvarez failed their separate physicals. The teams with through with the deal despite both players not being fully healthy. Johnson was a disaster for the Blue Jays, making 16 starts with a dismal 6.20 ERA. Unfortunately, bone spurs in his elbow kept him out for most of the season. Following multiple surgeries and a comeback stint with the San Diego Padres, Johnson retired from the majors in 2017.
Emilio Bonafacio played second base for the Blue Jays, hitting .218/.258/.321 with three home runs and 20 RBI. Bonafacio would not finish the season with Toronto, as Kansas City acquired him in August 2013. John Buck had previously played in Toronto in 2010. In his only all-star season, he hit .281/.314/.489 with 20 Home Runs and 66 RBI. However, his second tenure in Toronto was short-lived as he was traded to the New York Mets in December 2012 in a package that would give the Blue Jays R.A. Dickey. Josh Johnson was acquired and pitched in the 5th spot in the rotation. In his only season in Toronto, he was 2-8 with an ERA of 6.2 in 81, and 1/3 innings pitched. Unfortunately for Johnson, the 2013 season would be the last time he would play in the majors.
Following the Marlins-Blue Jays trade, it became apparent that Miami was ready to let young stars like Giancarlo Stanton and José Fernández lead the team. It wasn’t so much the case in 2013, which saw them with a record of 62-100, the second-worst record as an MLB franchise. Furthermore, they failed to make the playoffs for the 10th straight season. This was the final season with Michael Hill as the Marlins’ general manager. Hill was promoted to President of Baseball Operations in November 2013.
Henderson Alvarez III
The trade made Henderson Alvarez III a consistent part of the starting rotation. He did exceed expectations during his time with the Marlins. In three seasons, Alvarez was 17-17 with an ERA of 3.23 in 312 innings pitched. The 2015 season was rough for the Venezuelan, and at the season’s end, he was released by the Marlins. Alvarez would come back to the Majors in 2017 with the Philadelphia Phillies. Currently, Alvarez is 32 and playing in the Dominican Winter League.
After struggling to be an everyday starter in Toronto, the Marlins acquired Hechavarria to play daily. He was 24 years old when he started with Miami and played five seasons. Of the 12 players involved in this trade, Hechavarria lasted the longest on their new team. Although he was a utility infielder in Toronto, he became the Marlins’ shortstop for half a decade, hitting .255/.292/.336 with 13 home runs and 168 RBI. In 2017, the Miami Marlins traded him to Tampa Bay for Ethan Clark and Braxton Lee.
When he came to Miami, Mathis was a veteran catcher with eight years of major league experience. At the time, Miami’s rotation had four of their six starters under 24 years old. The Marlins had two young catchers, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and J.T. Realmuto, whom Mathis would mentor. During his four seasons with the Marlins, Mathis hit .195/.252/.292 with 11 home runs and 68 RBI. Although he was the starting catcher in 2013, he became the second catcher as the years went on. Mathis would leave the Marlins after the 2016 season in free agency and has not played since 2021.
Anthony DeSclafani, Yunel Escobar, Jake Marisnick and Justin Nicolino
This group of players was an interesting part of the Marlins-Blue Jays trade. Upon the deal, Anthony Desclafani finished the 2012 season in A ball with Lansing. With the Marlins farm system, the starting pitcher made the Marlins within two years. In 13 games, he was 2-2 with an ERA of 6.27 in 33 innings pitched. He was traded to the Cincinnati Reds after the 2014 season and is currently with the San Francisco Giants. Yunel Escobar’s tenure with Miami was short. After being traded to Miami on November 19, he was traded to Tampa Bay a few weeks later on December 4.
Jake Marisnick finished the 2012 season with Toronto’s Double-A New Hampshire Fishercats. By the end of the 2013 season, Marisnick played 40 games with the Marlins. His tenure in Miami was short, as he was traded just over a calendar year after his debut. Marisnick is a free agent after playing with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2022. Justin Nicolino was A ball when traded to Miami. He would make his major league debut with the Marlins in 2015. In 3 seasons, he was 10-13, with an ERA of 4.65 in 201 and 1/3 innings pitched. Nicolino last played in the majors in 2017 and at the Triple-A level.
Marlins-Blue Jays Trade: Final Thoughts
This trade ignited two franchises heading in different directions. For the Blue Jays, this move slowly allowed them to end their playoff drought and be threats for the American League pennant in back-to-back seasons. With these acquisitions, the Blue Jays bolstered their rotation to October. For the Miami Marlins, this trade allowed them to rebuild and find players who can be effective everyday starters.
, Mark Buehrle, José Reyes, Josh Johnson, John Buck and Emilio Bonifacio, Henderson Alvarez III, Adeiny Hechavarria, Yunel Escobar, Jake Marisnick, Anthony DeSclafani, Justin Nicolino, Jeff Mathis, R.A. Dickey, Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, Josh Thole, Troy Tulowitzki, LaTroy Hawkins, Giancarlo Stanton, José Fernández Ethan Clark, Braxton Lee, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, J.T. Realmuto,