Top 6 Things I Like About The Jeff Mathis Trade

I lied, I have way too much I need to get out of my system about this trade. I also have no idea why I’m still so fixated on Jeff Mathis, who spent only 70 games as a Blue Jay. There have been so many more memorable players – good and bad – that have spent so much more time on the team…and yet none of them have gotten the five thousand word treatment that Mathis gets.

Oh well. Content is content!

1) Money aside, it really didn’t cost that much.

Jeff Mathis is a backup catcher and the worst hitter in baseball history. Yunel Escobar had a reasonable contract, shortstops are in short (ha!) supply around the league, and he was undervalued due to the overblown homophobic slur controversy (he came off more as an idiot than a bigot really) but down year or not…being 18th out of 19th qualified shortstops in wOBA is not good. Henderson Alvarez allowed the third most hits and second highest batting average among starters last year, and projects to be a better pitcher in the bullpen than the rotation if he doesn’t learn a second breaking pitch.

Toronto sent three of it’s top 10 prospects to Miami, but hardly guts the farm, and all three guys going over still have big question marks. Jake Marisnick’s bat is still questionable and his stock has dropped following a disappointing year in both Single-A and Double-A (and while in New Hampshire played under current Marlins manager Mike Redmond), and he’s blocked at centerfield by Anthony Gose, who’s in turn blocked by Colby Rasus. And none of their bats project well enough to justify a move to a corner outfield spot. Justin Nicolino had the most polish but least projection of Toronto’s “Lansing Big Three” and being able to keep Aaron Sanchez and Noah Syndergaard instead is a big win for the club. Adeiny Hechavarria’s bat doesn’t project well enough to play anywhere other than short (if that), but now with Jose Reyes there, he also becomes expendable.

Ken Rosenthal notes that the Blue Jays gave away 32 total years of control over the players going over versus only the 12 years they got back, and most of those 12 are well advanced to a high average annual salary level already. But there’s a certain point of diminishing returns as to how much a good farm system can benefit you are the major league level, considering the impossible timing and luck required to have all those assets not end up sucky and on the 25-man roster at the same time. There’s a certain point when you’ve got a big enough chip stack that you look for a nice hand to go all-in with, and trading a whole bunch of money and maybes for some legitimate major league players that addresses all of Toronto’s offseason needs in one move seems like a solid play to me.

2) Even in terms of money it wasn’t too bad.

Toronto does takes on a lot of money, mainly to the big players involved, including Josh Johnson (one year left at $13.75 million), Jose Reyes (five years left at $92 million), and Mark Buerhle (three years left at $51 million). But compared to alternatives in free agency, it would have been difficult to find (a) comparable players (b) willing to sign at comparable terms in light of the escalating revenues of all clubs and thus free agent market values (c) that would even want to play in Toronto if given the chance considering the noncompetitive nature of the team prior to the trade.

Last year, Reyes and Buerhle would not have signed with Toronto as free agents. I find it hard to imagine a scenario in which they ever would, barring a massive overpay. Instead, we traded for them when the team they did sign with decided to tear it all down a year later. There is also a certain enjoyable irony to Toronto benefiting from Jeffrey Loria’s Marlins fire sale after he killed baseball in Montreal as well.

When compared to hypothetically trading for Dan Haren before his option was declined by the Angels (even more of an injury risk with lower upside than Johnson) and throwing money at Anibal Sanchez (reportedly seeking $90 million, which Alex Anthopoulos prophetically says that the club might be able to accommodate) – it’s actually not a bad alternative, and that’s not even considering the approximate 3ish win increase from new marketable franchise face Jose Reyes.

3) Seriously, Jose Reyes is on the Toronto Blue Jays.

He would never have signed up to play here of his own free will, so I’m glad that this worked out. He wasn’t quite the 6 win player last year as he was in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2011 with the Mets…and who knows how the injury history is going to go playing on turf, along with the declining defense. But he’s still one of the most marketable players in the league, and a legitimate lead-off guy that the Blue Jays haven’t had for most of the last decade, and could be the first Toronto All-Star shortstop since Tony Fernandez in 1989.

Also, he is in this awesome Spanish rap video.

…or is this reggaeton? I have no idea.

It is weird because as far as hip-hop type videos go…there is a big absence of big booty bitches. I think there is one half second shot of a female near the four minute mark…but that’s it. Regardless, this guy is definitely a firecracker, a spark plug in the clubhouse, and whatever buzzwords old white broadcasters like to give to Latin players. From the Dominican Republic to New York to Miami to…Toronto, Canada! I’m sure he’s thrilled.

4) No more crazy ranting about ownership.

Who would have thought Rogers – despite being the richest MLB club owner as a multi-billion dollar media conglomerate – would take on over $160 million of salary in one shot? Certainly not all those asshole radio call-in fans that have been screaming for the team to spend money just for the sake of spending money, even if no one wanted to take it…but now all that criticism has rightfully been silenced and the narrative can move on. Their list faults as club owners isn’t short and who knows what consequences will follow in jumping from the bottom third of the league in payroll to the top third, especially if the team doesn’t live up to it’s suddenly high expectations. But for now, after years of club officials maintaining that the money would be there when they need it, Rogers has come through on that here, and there’s finally something else to listen to than the incessant braying of Leafs fans that don’t have a hockey team to yell at this winter.

Rogers has terrible, terrible customer service for cellular phones, cable television, and internet though. Don’t buy anything from them, they are asshats.

5) Baseball relevancy in Toronto.

Can you taste it? I am still reveling in all the articles people are writing about the trade, whether if it’s about how the Blue Jays are back or about how Jeffrey Loria is a scumbag for gaming the system to get municipal funding for a new stadium and exploiting a deeply flawed revenue sharing system…suddenly baseball is relevant again in the Toronto sports scene, and the Blue Jays are relevant again to the national (American) media. I cannot wait for the legion of bandwagon fans to douche up games at the Rogers Centre, and I cannot wait to go and watch them do it. For the first time in years, one of our sports team might have a chance to play meaningful games, and I have almost forgotten how that feels like. The Toronto Blue Jays exist! And maybe that makes Toronto a more desirable and realistic destination for prospective managers or whatever free agents the Blue Jays would still be looking at? Certainly now it’s an easier sell to a guy like Manny Acta (Joe Torre…?) or Melky Cabrera to take a one-year, incentive based audition for the next offseason.

Who knows how the current payroll additions will restrict the club in making moves moving forward, and whether or not we’ll be okay without a clear starter in left field, a rotation with still tons of injury risk, no manager, and Adam Lind still projected as a fulltime player?

But for now, in this moment in November, isn’t it nice to just bask in the nice warm glow of dreams and expectations that have not yet been crushed by the cruel harsh light of reality? I mean that happens like every November, but this time the dreams have slightly more weight, slightly more rooted in real life. This is what hope feels like.

6) Jeff Mathis is gone.

I don’t dislike him at all. But do like that he is gone.

And it’s nice that as a Florida native, Jeff Mathis is finally coming home.

Jake says Jeff is excited with the prospect of coming back to the Sunshine State, to be able to play closer to family and friends.



Destined to fight the world's evil, The WAMBAG endures massive battles involving impossible stunts, races on horse-pulled carriages, and the desecration of enchanting medieval castles (all done with dizzying computer graphics). Not only does the eye candy keep on coming, the tongue-in-cheek writing and deep Transylvanian accents perfect the film with a dose of dark humor.



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