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Ferguson: Size, complexity of deal takes time to finalize

Scott Ferguson
11/16/2012 12:05:24 PM
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It's taken an unusually long time for the commissioner's office to make a decision on the Blue Jays' monster 12-player swap with the Miami Marlins but that speaks more to the size and complexity of the deal than any real reluctance on Bud Selig's part to give the deal the 'green light'.
On Thursday, the commisioner sounded as though he was leaning the Blue Jays way when he said two of his closest advisors, likely Tony LaRussa and Joe Torre, told him the Marlins had received some good prospects in the swap.
As much as it may bother Selig that Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria tore his team apart after just one season in their new, largely publicly funded, ballpark, there is really not much he can do to block this deal.
Look at Houston. The Astros did virtually the same thing this season, as new GM Jeff Luhnow pulled off 11 trades over the course of the season and stripped the team of virtually all its veteran talent. He moved their top starter Wandy Rodriguez, his closer Brett Myers, Carlos Lee, third baseman Chris Johnson and two pretty good pitchers in J.A. Happ and Brandon Lyon to the Blue Jays in that huge 10-player trade in July. Luhnow's saving grace is he broke the team up piece-by-piece, not in one huge deal. The Astros believe four of the prospects they got from the Jays are now part of their top 20 prospects.
Oakland stripped down their team to a large degree last winter, by trading starters Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill and closer Andrew Bailey. However with some shrewd moves by Executive of the Year Billy Beane, the A's shocked the baseball world and actually soared down the stretch to beat out Texas for the AL West title.
If the commisioner didn't do anything to stop what Houston and Oakland did, he can hardly step in to shut down Miami now.
In terms of sheer numbers, Alex Anthopolous has now pulled off the two largest trades in Blue Jays history in the course of one calendar year; the 10-player swap with Houston and now this 12-player deal with Miami. In total, he gave up 10 prospects in the two deals and did appreciably weaken the Jays farm system. This is the way it's supposed to work. You develop the players you need and you trade the surplus for problem areas you can't fill from within.
Before Athopolous worked his magic, Gord Ash was the purveyor of the biggest numerical trade in Jays history. On November of 1996, nearly 15 years to the day before the Miami swap, the Blue Jays sent six prospects to the Pittsburgh Pirates for lefty reliever Dan Plesec, outfielder/1B Orlando Merced and 2B Carlos Garcia. Plesac had a solid run with the Jays over two stints with the club but Merced and Garcia not so much. Of the six prospects Ash dealt away, only Craig Wilson had a significant impact with the Pirates. That just goes to show you that nothing is guaranteed with prospects.
The largest trade ever that I've been able to find, was the 17-player swap between the Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees in November of 1954, a deal that actually wasn't fully completed until December of that year. It's also the only deal I've been able to find in which two very good pitchers went one way. The Yankees received 'Bullet' Bob Turley and Don 'Perfect Game' Larsen as part of that deal.

So in my mind, Alex Anthopolous pulled off an incredible coup in getting Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson in the same swap. Not to get too ridiculous, but the Yankees appeared in nine of the next 10 World Series after that trade, winning four and losing  four. Hey we can all dream, can't we?
This isn't going to be a problem, I would think, but as CBSSports.com reported, Buehrle and his wife are dog lovers and one of the four they have is a pit bull named Slater, a breed which is banned in Ontario.

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