There is a glimmer of hope for Marlins fans hoping Tuesday's trade of Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, and three other starters to the Toronto Blue Jays can be undone. Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said Thursday he will examine the trade, which is still pending.
At the MLB owners' meetings in Chicago, Selig said he is aware of Marlins fans' anger over the payroll-reducing deal, but will do whatever is in the best interests of the game.
"People have different views of that as to what you should do and how you should do it, but I think I've been able to come through all these situations and the sport's been stronger and better as a result," he said, referring to the recent bankruptcy proceedings of the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers.
"So when I say I have this matter under review and I've talked to a lot of our people and I've spent a lot of time here in between all the other meetings — this is a tough place to do it — that's exactly what I mean. It is under review. I am aware of the anger, I am. I'm also aware that in Toronto they're very happy."
Marlins fans may not want to get too excited about Selig's review. Blocking the trade could set an unfortunate precedent for teams who wish to clear payroll and rebuild with prospects, a necessary strategy for small-market teams.
"I've talked to two baseball people — I have a lot of people that I check with and talk to — who have, actually, an interesting view on the trade." Selig added. "They think that [the Marlins], in terms of young players, did very well. These are two independent baseball people. These are not chefs in these kitchens here.
"So I want to think about all of it and I want to review everything. I want to be my usual painstaking, cautious, slow, conservative self in analyzing it. ... There's a lot of variables here."
There is a precedent for MLB voiding a salary-clearing trade. In 1976, then-Oakland Athletics owner Charlie Finley attempted to sell the contracts of Joe Rudi and Rollie Fingers, but commissioner Bowie Kuhn voided both deals, citing the MLB commissioner's "best interest of baseball" clause.
But those deals were straight-up sales, with the A's only getting cash (and not players) in return. It is a stretch to think that precedent applies in this case.
Unfortunately for Marlins fans, Selig is unlikely to block this deal that would put the Marlins out of playoff contention for the near future.
"I know what the commissioner can do, can't do, what his legal responsibilities are," Selig said. "I understand the feeling and in the end I'll do what I've done in the other past situations. People always ask me, 'Boy, don't you wish it didn't happen?' Well, there are a lot of situations I wish hadn't happened, but they have, and then I have to try to do what I have to do."