The Toronto Blue Jays certainly got better on paper after acquiring Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, John Buck, and Emilio Bonafacio for Yunel Escobar, Adeiny Hechevarria, Justin Nicolino, and Henderson Alvarez from the Miami Marlins. However, does it necessarily make them contenders in the American League East?
Mark Buehrle has boatloads of experience in the American League after spending his entire career with the Chicago White Sox until signing with the Marlins prior to last season. However, Buehrle has a lifetime record of 7-16 with a 5.27 ERA against the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. But if Ricky Romero is healthy and returns to form, Buehrle would make a very nice third starter.
Josh Johnson has never had a problem when he is on the mound. However, staying there could be a problem for him as health has been an issue throughout his career. Last year, Johnson made his second highest amount of starts with 31. His career high of 33 starts came in 2009. When Johnson is healthy he is among the best pitchers in the game and his success has translated to interleague play where he owns an 8-3 record and 2.95 ERA.
Jose Reyes is a drastic upgrade over Yunel Escobar at shortstop and should finally be someone who can consistently get on base in front of Jose Bautista.
While this deal certainly makes the Blue Jays better it doesn’t make them favorites in the American League East. We saw a core of players better than what the Blue Jays have now falter last season. Take a look at the Los Angeles Angels and Miami Marlins from last season.
The Blue Jays made the first move to get better but they still need to retool. Their bullpen right now features Casey Janssen as closer. Janssen had a decent year last year but is he doesn’t exactly remind people of Mariano Rivera. The rest of the bullpen doesn’t exactly strike fear in opponents hearts. Sergio Santos, Darren Oliver, and company are going to need help if they want to contend in the American League East.
The Blue Jays will certainly be improved this season, especially if they get healthy seasons from Bautista and Romero, and if Edwin Encarnacion continues on the path he set forth last season then the Blue Jays might challenge for the American League East crown but they will still have to survive the battle of attrition that comes with it. Let’s also not forget the Blue Jays have yet to name a manager so let’s not put them on any pedestals just yet.