The Miami Marlins finalized their massive trade with the Toronto Blue Jays, sending former All-Stars Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, and John Buck (along with Emilio Bonifacio) to Toronto in exchange for a bevy of prospects. The two teams agreed to the deal last Tuesday.
Miami received infielders Yunel Escobar and Adeiny Hechavarria, pitchers Henderson Alvarez, Anthony DeSclafani and Justin Nicolino, catcher Jeff Mathis and outfielder Jake Marisnick. The Marlins also are sending Toronto cash to defray some of the cost of the large contracts being assumed by the Blue Jays.
MLB commissioner Bud Selig said last week that he would review the trade, but he decided against blocking the deal. "This transaction, involving established major leaguers and highly regarded young players and prospects, represents the exercise of plausible baseball judgment on the part of both clubs (and) does not violate any express rule of Major League Baseball and does not otherwise warrant the exercise of any of my powers to prevent its completion," Selig said in a statement.
"It is, of course, up to the clubs involved to make the case to their respective fans that this transaction makes sense and enhances the competitive position of each, now or in the future."
Not counting the cash going to the Blue Jays, the trade results in a net payroll reduction of $154 million through 2018. This cost-saving trade, as well as a similar salary dump involving Hanley Ramirez completed in July, has the team under scrutiny.
The Marlins opened a new stadium in Little Havana that was financed mostly using public money. They went on a spending spree last winter in hopes of putting a playoff contender on the field. But after the team flopped massively, the Marlins brain trust hit the self-destruct button, shedding payroll and acquiring prospects in hope of rebuilding a contender over the next few seasons.
In doing so, the team has severely damaged its already weak brand in South Florida, which Selig referenced in his statement.
"I am sensitive to the concerns of the fans of Miami regarding this trade, and I understand the reactions I have heard," Selig added. "Baseball is a social institution with important social responsibilities and I fully understand that the Miami community has done its part to put the Marlins into a position to succeed with beautiful new Marlins Park. Going forward, I will continue to monitor this situation with the expectation that the Marlins will take into account the sentiments of their fans, who deserve the best efforts and considered judgment of their club. I have received assurances from the ownership of the Marlins that they share these beliefs and are fully committed to build a long-term winning team that their fans can be proud of."
Selig's words will offer little comfort to Marlins fans (and former fans) who want the team to change its spendthrift (and tone-deaf) ways. With no disincentive against moves like this trade, it is hard to believe the team will not do something similar in the future when it feels its payroll is getting out of hand.
Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest confirmed Monday that the deal was largely financially motivated. "We did receive a payroll range from ownership that we needed to achieve," Beinfest said. "With this transaction, we have achieved that payroll range."
Beinfest also responded to the comments of Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, who expressed disdain for the deal last week. "I know this is an emotional time," Beinfest said. "I'm sure it has been tough for him. Our feeling was to maybe let the dust settle a little bit and then talk to Giancarlo. I hear the frustration. It's not unexpected. This has been a tough go, but we think it's best for us moving forward."