TORONTO - Usually the best way to declare the winner of a trade is simply deciding which team acquired the best player.
It was the case in December of 1990 when the Blue Jays acquired Robbie Alomar, along with Joe Carter from the San Diego Padres for Tony Fernandez and Fred McGriff.
The same held true Tuesday night when the Jays added shortstop Jose Reyes, the centrepiece of a 12-player deal with the Miami Marlins, initially reported by FOX.com in a fair and balanced way.
Oh yeah, in other news ... the Jays added two much-needed starters in right-hander Josh Johnson and lefty Mark Buehrle. So the Jays picked up the contracts of two starters -- $68.75 million (U.S.) remaining on the deals -- rather than chase Anibal Sanchez, who wanted a six-year, $90-million deal, and another free agent.
It's still early and there are physicals to go through, not to mention a few games to win. Yet make no mistake: This was a franchise-altering deal.
The Jays parted ways with young talent in Henderson Alvarez, 22, Adeiny Hechavarria, 23, and blue-chip prospects Jake Marisnick, 21, and Justin Nicolino, 20. Also among the seven Miami-bound are Yunel Escobar, Jeff Mathis and minor-leaguer Anthony DeSclafani. The Jays also acquired Emilio Bonifacio, catcher John Buck and $4-million.
The Jays' rotation of Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, J.A. Happ, Johnson and Buerhle is better than it was Monday morning.
Reyes, who can hit lead-off or in the No. 3 spot, is the key.
"He's one of the top five shortstops in baseball," said a National League general manager, "one of the most exciting, game-changing players currently playing ... with his speed, his bat and his glove. He'll steal a base, hit a triple.
"He'll be more exciting on turf. He'll have a lot more doubles and triples at the Rogers Centre."
Over the years, we've made fun of Rogers Communications for their ability to say they would step forward and spend when the time came, but the clocks on the Rogers campus were broken, so the time never came.
Rogers committed to add $42-million to their payroll give-or-take what Bonifacio earns in salary arbitration for next year.
The Jays added $160-million in total salaries as Reyes is on the second year of a six-year, $106-million contract, while Buehrle is on Year 2 of a four-year, $58-million deal. Johnson is in the final year of a four-year, $39-million contract and Buck is in the final year of a three-year, $18-million deal. Coming off the books is less than $9-million.
Before the Jays dig out plans from the 1993 parade route, remember the fuss everyone made (guilty, your honour) a year ago December when the Marlins landed free agents Heath Bell, Reyes and Buehrle and traded for manager Ozzie Guillen?
They were lead-pipe, copper-insulated locks to make the World Series.
All are gone, Bell to the Arizona Diamondbacks, after the Marlins won 69 games and finishing 29 back of the Atlanta Braves in the National League East.
Jays fans should also remember the Marlins of December 2011 and what happened ... even while praising general manager Alex Anthopoulos and his staff, which worked long and hard to put the deal together, adding Buck and Bonifacio as the final two pieces of the puzzle on Tuesday.
The Jays came away with everything they wanted in talks with the Marlins except Giancarlo Stanton and the sculpture in left field.
"It sure as heck helps us, makes our division easier," said a scout for an NL East team. "Last year at the winter meetings we were in our room wondering about how we were going to beat the Marlins.
"I like Reyes a lot, but he was a bit of a loose cannon with the Mets."
It's a great deal for the Jays in that they finally spent money.
It's a great deal that they added two experienced starters not named Mike Sirotka.
It's a great deal that they landed Reyes.
It's only a bad deal if the Jays have a side agreement where Guillen comes along to manage.
"The Marlins gave the Jays a gift," said another scout, who then asked if Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, former owner of the Montreal Expos, "was apologizing to ball fans in Canada?"
BLUE JAYS MONEYBALL
$5-million, Yunel Escobar
$1.5-million, Jeff Mathis
Under $600,000 ...
$13.75-million, Josh Johnson
$12-million, Mark Buerhle
$10-million, Jose Reyes
$6.5-million, John Buck
$4-million*, Emilio Bonifacio
(*Salary arbitration eligible)