Marlins shed stars, salary, but Nationals remain wary

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The sheer magnitude of the trade seemed too ridiculous to be true. The way the names involved trickled out Tuesday evening only added to the drama.

Right-handed ace Josh Johnson was traded from the Miami Marlins to the Toronto Blue Jays. Then lefty Mark Buehrle was added to the deal. Then Jose Reyes, the Marlins’ free agent prize a year ago, was going, too. And suddenly seemingly every player the Marlins hadn’t shipped out of town at the trade deadline was headed north of the border.

When the dust settled Johnson, Buehrle, Reyes, catcher John Buck and utility man Emilio Bonifacio were on their way to Toronto. Shortstop Yunel Escobar, right-hander Henderson Alvarez, catcher Jeff Mathis and shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria were leaving Toronto’s major league club for South Florida, along with minor league outfielder Jake Marisnick, left-hander Justin Nicolino and right-hander Anthony DeSclafani.

Twelve players. A $56.7 million Marlins savings for the upcoming season, according to Baseball America. A total of 12 veteran players gone from the Marlins’ 2012 Opening Day roster including their midseason trades. And another shakeup in the National League and American League East divisions.

Moments after learning of his Manager of the Year award Tuesday night, Nationals’ manager Davey Johnson could hardly believe the megadeal had gone through.

“Is that going to happen?” Johnson asked. “I hope the right fielder’s in that deal, too. I wish they’d put that big slugger in right field in that deal, too.”

“Alright,” tweeted Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton who, alas, still is on their roster. “I’m pissed off!!! Plain & Simple.”

Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper had an easy solution for the fearsome hitter.

“You can always come play for the Nats!” Harper tweeted back to Stanton. “We will take you anytime! Get some red, white, and blue in your life!”

“What is going on in the baseball world?” chimed in Nationals outfielder Michael Morse, a South Florida resident, with his tweet.

Players and fans across the country were abuzz. The Marlins, of course, were the target of ire. Less than a year after selling what appears now to be a facade of wanting to spend and contend, they were blowing it up again, their fancy new stadium perhaps all that’s left of their rebranding movement.

And in the American League East, a division in which the surprising Baltimore Orioles finished second, there was another shift in the balance of power with the Blue Jays adding several big-name, big-money players.

So how does the blockbuster deal affect the Nationals?

“For the National League East, I don’t think it’s going to change much,” Nationals reliever Ryan Mattheus said. “It’s going to be competitive as always. The only thing that really affects is on paper. They don’t have Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, the big contracts, Jose Reyes. When you look at the lineup every day, it’s going to be different. But major league baseball players are major league baseball players, and no matter what, you’re going to have to get them out.

“Last year on paper, they looked good and then they didn’t do much so, it could go either way. But as for the competition, the competition in the NL East is still going to be probably the best division in baseball again. I think this isn’t going to change much.”

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