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A day after agreeing to a massive trade that sent four former All-Stars to the Toronto Blue Jays for a package of minor leaguers and spare parts, Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria said Wednesday that the deal is not a fire sale, as many have called it.
"We finished in last place. Figure it out," Loria told CBSSports.com. When asked specifically if he would call the trade a fire sale, he shot back, "Absolutely not. That's more stupidity."
The Marlins sent pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, infielders Jose Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio, and catcher John Buck to Toronto Tuesday for a package including shortstop Yunel Escobar, backup catcher Jeff Mathis, pitcher Henderson Alvarez and prospects including Cuban shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, centerfielder Jake Marisnick and pitcher Justin Nicolino.
The trade shed $160 million in payroll over the next five seasons for the Marlins, who went 69-93 in 2012 after an offseason makeover that was designed to allow the team to compete for a playoff spot.
"We have to get better," Loria continued. "We can't finish in last place. We finished in last place. That's unacceptable. We have to take a new course."
While it is true that the talent leaving the Marlins did little to prevent an on-field catastrophe last season, Loria may want to rethink calling his fans stupid for their reaction to the trade.
This deal could help the Marlins compete in the long run, but it has created a marketing nightmare for the team that could last for a few seasons. It is inconceivable to think that the team will draw 2.2 million fans in 2013, as it did in 2012 with the opening of Marlins Park.
But that might not matter as much for the Marlins' bottom line. The team will still get plenty of money from Major League Baseball through revenue sharing agreements and investments in league assets like MLB Advanced Media. Even if ticket sales plummet as expected, the Marlins can turn a profit so long as payroll remains low, which should not be a problem now.