Josh Johnson (left) and Mark Buehrle (right) are both key additions to the Jays rotation. (Getty)At first there was a feeling of shock and surprise for both Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson when they heard about the 12-player trade that would be sending both of them from Miami to Toronto along with teammates Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck.
For Buehrle there was even a feeling of betrayal upon leaving Miami. But now that Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig has officially approved the deal and they've taken some time to digest what it means for the future of their careers, both say they're eager to join a team that's expected to be very competitive in the American League East next season.
"I'm extremely excited," Josh Johnson said in a media conferene call Thursday afternoon. "I went to a basketball game with some people I hadn't seen in a while last night and they were asking me about who's in our lineup and just going through it again I'm just like 'Wow.' It's even better than what I imagined when the trade first went through so I'm extremely excited to get it going, to meet the guys and [get] that camaraderie going."
Buehrle added in an earlier media call Thursday morning that he likes the changes Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos has made and where the franchise is heading.
As for which of their new teammates and coaches they've spoken to, Johnson said he's talked briefly with J.P. Arencibia and Ricky Romero as well as pitching coach Pete Walker and Jays new manager John Gibbons.
"J.P. texted me and said 'welcome, I already got video on you and we're watching it and be ready for spring training to get you back on track,'" Johnson said. "And then I texted Ricky Romero yesterday I believe to tell him that if he's ever in Vegas to let me know if he needs a throwing partner and I told him whenever I'm in Southern California I'll hit him up and we'll get together."
Both he and Buehrle are expected to be front-of-the-rotation starters and there are those who believe that if Johnson can stay healthy and return to the form he was in during the 2009 and 2010 seasons when he combined for a 26-11 record and 2.80 ERA, he could end up being the ace of the Jays rotation.
"Josh is a stud," Buehrle said of his teammate. "Obviously coming back off an injury [heading into last season] it's harder to be 100 percent all season, but I feel like if he would have had a little bit of run support last year he would have been back to pretty close to himself. Another off-season doing his exercises, I see no reason that he can get back to that top-of-the-line starter that I knew a couple of years ago."
While Buehrle has come to accept the trade to Toronto, he is still trying to figure out the logistics, specifically when it comes to his pit bull Slater. There has been a ban on pit bulls in Ontario since the summer of 2005 and so the 33-year-old along with his wife Jamie are trying to figure out how the ban will affect the family's move to Toronto.
"I think it is going to be an obstacle," he said. "We're looking at everything, every option we have right now. We're working with certain people trying to figure out what all our options are so we can kind of plan something and go forward with it.
"Obviously I don't agree with the ban, the same thing in Miami… If the family has to stay home [in Florida] because of the dog and I go to Toronto by myself, then that's going to be tough on [my wife.]"
Johnson who is heading into his first season in Toronto on the final year of a four-year contract says a new deal is the last thing on his mind and his sole focus is around winning and returning to top form.
"All I've been about since I've started playing baseball is I'm all about winning, that's all I want to do," he said. "Winning makes everything better, it makes food taste better, makes your wife happier, makes your family happier, everything is better when you're winning."