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Stars, Prospects, and Rumors Turn Up the Heat on Hot Stove Season

Torii Hunter

The Hot Stove season was at a slow simmer until last night. In an instant, it got right to a boil with the announcement of a 12-player blockbuster between the Toronto Blue Jays and Miami Marlins. Leaving South Beach are Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, John Buck, and Emilio Bonifacio and heading to Miami are Yunel Escobar, Adeiny Hechavarria, Jeff Mathis, Henderson Alvarez, Justin Nicolino, Anthony DeSclafani, and Jake Marisnick.

The Blue Jays just made themselves a formidable opponent in the American League East. Reyes will replace Escobar at shortstop, Buck will take over as J.P. Arencibia’s backup, and Bonifacio could end up in left field or second base. Reyes had a decent season in Miami, hitting .287/.347/.433 with 40 stolen bases. He will likely only benefit from the turf at the Rogers Centre, as will Bonifacio. The Jays will also have a vastly improved rotation by adding Johnson and Buerhle to Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, and J.A. Happ. In one monster move, this team got more exciting.

The Marlins, meanwhile, have blown up another roster. Between this, trading Heath Bell this offseason, and dealing Hanley Ramirez before the deadline during the season, Miami has Giancarlo Stanton and not much else. They have $19-million committed to five players for next year and one of them, Ricky Nolasco (who is owed $11.5-million), is also rumored to be on the market. Escobar, Hechavarria, Mathis, and Alvarez will help fill out the roster a bit, but the franchise will have to wait for their big prizes in this deal to develop. Marisnick, an outfielder, and Nicolino, a pitcher, are ranked the Blue Jays’ second and fifth best prospects, respectively, according to Baseball America. Hechavarria is also eighth on that list, though he did get some time in the Majors last year.

In other, less significant developments, the Boston Red Sox added a bit of depth to their roster by signing Braves catcher David Ross. Ross, who is widely considered one of the best, if not the best, backup catchers in the Majors, creates a logjam at the position at Fenway. The Red Sox still have Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway under contract for next year and are sure to move one of them now. Lavarnway would yield the higher return, but GM Ben Cherington likely sees him as the catcher of the future. Salty will likely be traded, instead, with Lavarnway given the chance to take his place as the team’s primary backstop.

Out on the west coast, the Los Angeles Dodgers have won the bidding for South Korean pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin. With a $25.7-million bid, the Dodgers will have 30 days to negotiate with the 25-year-old and his agent, Scott Boras. Ryu was a Korean Baseball Organization all-star each season of his 7-year career, during which he has posted a 98-52 record with a 2.80 ERA. If the Dodgers are able to reach an agreement with Ryu, they may look to deal a starter. With a rotation already clogged, including Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Josh Beckett, Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang, and Ted Lilly, someone will have to go. Ken Gurnick of MLB.com suggests Capuano and Harang would be the likely candidates.

In the meantime, The Tigers made a spalsh by signing  Torii Hunter on Wednesday. Detroit  upgraded their corner outfield spots and Hunter could provide the Tigers with the extra boost to put them over the top next season. According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today Hunter signed a two-year deal.

Another outfielder, Cody Ross, is currently looking at his options and the Atlanta Braves have emerged as a contender for his services. Ross is coming off a successful year with the Red Sox. With the retirement of Chipper Jones, Martin Prado may take over at third base, so Ross would be a solid option. The Braves are reportedly looking to boost their production against left-handed pitching, which Ross did quite well last year, hitting .295 with 12 home runs in 132 at bats. ESPN’s Buster Olney reports Ross is looking for a 3-year contract worth about $25-million. Other teams interested in signing him, at this point, include the Red Sox and Phillies.

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