The swap was easier for the Marlins to swing because of their longstanding policy of refusing to include no-trade clauses in contracts.
The deal gave an immediate boost to the Blue Jays, who have not reached the playoffs since winning their second consecutive World Series in 1993. Toronto went 73-89 this season and finished fourth in the AL East for the fourth straight year, again falling short in a division that includes big spenders.
The Marlins changed their name a year ago but failed to change their losing ways, and instead of contending for a playoff berth, they finished 69-93, their worst record since 1999.
The Marlins drew more than 2.2 million fans but had projected attendance of nearly 3 million. Team officials blamed the difference in part on manager Ozzie Guillen's laudatory comments early in the year about former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, which antagonized a large segment of an already-small fan base.
Guillen was fired after only one season with the team and replaced this month by the Marlins' former backup catcher, Mike Redmond.
President of baseball operations Larry Beinfest hinted at a big change in direction less than two weeks ago.
"We've kind of lost our Marlins way," he said. "The real Marlins way was we always outperformed our challenges. Whatever our challenges were, whether it was playing in a football stadium or weather or a lack of fans, or lack of revenue for that matter, we always found a way to outperform our challenges."
It now appears management will field a team with the expectation players will outperform their contracts, which was the franchise model for most of the past decade. The roster shake-up during the season reduced the payroll to $90.3 million from $112 million on opening day, and now could be dramatically lower next season.