Former C's arms continue to get dealt in Blue Jays rebuild

First Nicolino and now Syndergaard leave Jays nest as part of Jays rebuild

By Rob Fai / Vancouver Canadians | December 17, 2012 2:23 PM ET

(Scotiabank Field at Nat Bailey Stadium - Vancouver, B.C.) - Then there was one.

For fans of the Vancouver Canadians, all you can really say is 'what a difference a year makes'.

In 2011, the C's felt the depth of the Toronto Blue Jays minor league system front and center getting a good look at the 'three-headed monster' that General Manager Alex Anthopoulos had assembled through the draft.

Vancouver watched as RHP Aaron Sanchez, LHP Justin Nicolino and RHP Noah Syndergaard all dazzled in the Canadians red and white, and now, just a year later - only Sanchez remains as property of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Some would say that is the cost of doing business in the always fluctuating American League East where getting your chance to surpass the usually free-spending Yankees and Red Sox happens seldom at best.

Nicolino was one of the future pieces in Anthopoulos' deal with the Marlins that had Floridians calling for the head of Miami owner Jeffery Loria. The Blue Jays completely revamped their starting pitching rotation with one swift swoop and lost Nicolino in the process.

Those who saw Nicolino in Vancouver know all too well that although he has yet to pitch an inning in the Major Leagues, he will - and will be a left-handed presence for years to come. The Marlins took a lot of heat for clearing the books, but in five years, should the fan base in South Beach have patience, might see the benefits of a move that had the Blue Jays thinking 'now' and the Marlins poised for 2016.

Shortly after the blockbuster with Miami, Anthopoulos rolled the dice on Melky Cabrera who in 2012 was on pace to win the National League MVP with gaudy numbers on a team that would eventually go on to win the World Series. A failed drug test changed everything for Cabrera and suddenly had him looking for a team willing to 'take a chance' just months after dominating major league pitching.

Where the Jays done yet?

Not quite.

The Mets began shopping the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey around as negotiations between the Metropolitans and the 20-game winner fizzled.

Who would come knocking with prospects in hand? The Blue Jays did, with both catcher Travis D'Arnaud and RHP Noah Syndergaard at the ready.

D'Arnaud was rated as the top prospect within the Toronto organization, and Syndergaard, who Vancouver fans cheered on just a year ago - was the #3 prospect according to Baseball America.

The Mets couldn't say 'no' and the Blue Jays got another piece to their rotation that some would say in among the best in all of baseball heading into the 2013 season.

Fans that saw Syndergaard pitch, between Vancouver and Lansing, Michigan aren't doing cartwheels of sheer bliss right now, as the Mets, who are a few years away just got a big piece to their pitching future and a marquee catcher that was in the waiting.

When the Canadians travelled to Dunedin, Florida in 2012 to deliver Championship rings to the '11 squad, you couldn't make a turn in the Bobby Mattick Spring Training complex without someone saying 'have you seen Syndergaard'?

This is a pitcher that if he stays healthy could be a force in the National League throwing to a catcher that was the MVP of the Eastern League (2011) and considered by many to be the top catcher in all of the Minor Leagues.

Simply put, the Jays parted with a lot of talent this off-season to get a lot of talent in return.

The difference?

One word.


With the National Hockey League locking out its players, the Raptors completely irrelevant in the National Basketball Association and the Argos in hibernation after a Grey Cup victory - the time is 'now' for the Jays to capture their market, and with their off-season to date, they have sparked the interest and imagination of their dormant fan base that has waited nearly 20 years for a playoff contender.

The pieces are in place, the cupboards aren't 'completely' bare in the Minor Leagues (see: RHP Aaron Sanchez, RHP Roberto Osuna & RHP Dan Norris), but the expectation is massive.

This is 'go' time for the Toronto Blue Jays, and how sweet it is to know that some of those key acquisition pieces honed their skills right here at Scotiabank Field.

The Vancouver Canadians wish both LHP Justin Nicolino (Marlins) and RHP Noah Syndergaard (Mets) all the best as they work their way toward the bright lights of the Major Leagues.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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