Baseball sources confirmed to MLB.com that Johnson and Marisnick are involved in the deal, and Nicolino posted on his Twitter account that he is going to Miami. Veteran catcher Jeff Mathis also is heading to Miami, and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that Toronto will receive $4 million as part of the deal. Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com first reported the rest of the trade, which has been confirmed by several other media outlets. Neither club has commented on or confirmed the deal.
The deal will radically remake the Blue Jays' roster and potentially alter the landscape of the American League East, if not the entire AL. Johnson and Buehrle will be huge upgrades to a Toronto rotation that struggled with injuries in 2012, and Reyes adds a dynamic presence at the plate, in the infield and on the basepaths to set up the club's big sluggers.
The Blue Jays already own one of the league's most potent offenses, led by slugger Jose Bautista, and the addition of Reyes only strengthens and deepens their lineup. Adding Johnson, a legitimate No. 1 starter when healthy, and Buehrle, a durable veteran, will instantly improve Toronto's pitching staff as well.
By stripping down their roster to mostly young players making the league minimum or just above it, the Marlins unloaded more than $160 million in future payroll obligations. Reyes was signed to a six-year, $106 million contract last offseason, when the Marlins also inked Buehrle to a four-year, $58 million contract.
The third piece of Miami's big winter was closer Heath Bell, who was shipped out to Arizona in a trade earlier this offseason. Miami also traded away Hanley Ramirez, one of its most well-known stars, to the Dodgers during the regular season. Aside from outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, none of the players the Marlins built around last season are with the team any longer, nor is manager Ozzie Guillen.
Guillen's replacement, Mike Redmond, most recently managed the Blue Jays' Class A Advanced team in Dunedin, Fla., last year and should be familiar with most of the prospects Toronto is sending to Miami.
Escobar, 30, has spent six years in the Majors and hit .253/.300/.344 in a 2012 season marred by a controversy about homophobic slurs written on his eyeblack toward the end of the season. Hechavarria, 23, batted .254 in the Majors in 41 games last season and figured to compete for the starting second base job after batting .272/.314/.381 in three Minor League seasons. Hechavarria was MLB.com's No. 7 Blue Jays prospect.
Alvarez, 22, showed his potential in 2011, when he posted a 3.53 ERA in 10 big league starts, but struggled en route to a 9-14 record and 4.85 ERA last season. Nicolino, a 20-year-old Florida native and MLB.com's No. 5 prospect in Toronto, went 10-4 with a 2.46 ERA in 28 games (22 starts) last season for Class A Lansing.
The 21-year-old Marisnick, who played for Redmond part of last season with the Dunedin Blue Jays, was MLB.com's No. 2 Blue Jays prospect.