Fidlin's possible ripple effects following Jays blockbuster

Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos. (DAVE ABEL/QMI AGENCY)

Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos. (DAVE ABEL/QMI AGENCY)

KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:56 AM ET

TORONTO - As baseball earthquakes go, this was about an 8.2 on the Richter Scale.

With one 12-player transaction, the Blue Jays and Miami Marlins have changed each other's landscape.

It's a lot to digest in such a short period of time. The deal that netted Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck will have a ripple effect running from one end of the Blue Jay organization to the other. Let's examine a few:

1 Will there be aftershocks?

Or, in other words, is Alex Anthopoulos done? The answer is obvious.

Last we checked, the off-season had barely begun. With nearly three months remaining before pitchers and catchers report to Dunedin, the big depth chart in AA's office has been dramatically altered. The major-league talent quotient is higher but can some of the pieces still be moved to maximize the benefit? The only thing we know is that if he can improve the talent level further, AA will try.

Any or all of the new players, as well as any that were already on the roster, may still be in play as the Jays recalibrate the areas where improvements can be made, sifting through offers.

2 How will this trade impact the managerial search?

Presuming that AA hasn't already settled on a manager at least in his own mind, the field of candidates may have just widened. According to Fox Sports, the Jays reached out to Bobby Cox not long ago to see if he would be interested in coming out of retirement. As the story goes, Cox politely declined.

Cox and his contentment in retirement aside, it would be difficult for any experienced manager not to want this job, realizing the potential that exists after the trade. Why, it might even be somebody's "dream job."

3 Yunel Escobar: Gone in 60 seconds

One of the thorniest problems AA was going to have this off-season was finding a taker for Yunel Escobar. In his first season and a half in Toronto, there were hopeful signs that Escobar had matured and had left his moody, selfishly flashy, careless old self behind. In 2012, though, many of his old behaviours returned, capped by the infamous eye-black slur caught on camera. He had to go.

During the last week of the season, a talent evaluator with an American League team was asked if Escobar could be moved. "Maybe," he said. "He's an okay talent and has a team-friendly contract, but I'm seeing all the same (stuff) I saw before. Stuff that turns me off. His play is inconsistent but, worse, his effort is inconsistent."

Now, not only are the Jays rid of Escobar, but they've replaced him with an accomplished player at a position where premier talent is hard to find. Jose Reyes also delivers something the Jays have lacked in recent memory: A bona fide leadoff hitter. That in itself is a bonus, but there's more. Brett Lawrie can move on down the order into an RBI slot where his gap power can be used to greater effect.

4 Speed kills

The Blue Jays who, as recently as three years ago, were a sluggish, station-to-station outfit, have now turned into a track team. Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio join Lawrie and Rajai Davis as elite runners. They will be joined sometime soon by Anthony Gose. Presuming none of them is moved along in any subsequent trades, the Blue Jays are set to terrorize opposing pitchers on the basepaths if they so choose. Bonifacio can play just about anywhere, including second base. The Jays recently signed Maicer Izturis, creating a bit of an awkward logjam of middle infielders but, as we said before, it's early in the offseason. Plenty of time for things to sort themselves out.

5 Solidifying the rotation

It sounds like a broken record (or a John Farrell soliloquy) but it's one of those baseball truths: everything starts with the rotation. If your starting pitcher can somehow get you into the seventh inning on a consistent basis, you have a very good chance of getting decent performance out of your bullpen. If your starting pitcher is only able to get 15 outs or less on a regular basis, then you're likely going to risk bullpen burnout. Presuming they are both still with the Jays come April, Johnson and Buehrle are experienced veterans who know how to put their teams into position to win. Buehrle is a consistent 200-innings guy and Johnson could very well be as long as he's healthy. Brandon Morrow, despite missing 2.5 months with an oblique strain, made moves toward getting deeper into games last season, going six complete innings in 15 of his 21 starts.

6 Plumbing the depths

As the season wound down, Anthopoulos made it clear he wanted more players with major-league experience on the roster. In recent years, roster depth has been provided, largely, by unpolished kids bubbling up from the minor leagues and suffering through the inevitable failures.

This trade adds four major league players -- three of them well above average -- and will tend to mute the need to plug gaps from the minor-league pipeline. That's a good thing. More preparation in the minors is preferable. The additions of Buehrle and Johnson will also allow surgery rehabbers like Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison the time not only to get healthy but also to add pro experience at Buffalo, if necessary. With the organization's top two pitching prospects -- Noah Syndergaard and Aaron Sanchez -- still two or three years away, there is now no urgency (if there ever was any) to move them along at anything but their own pace.

ken.fidlin@sunmedia.ca


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