Marlins salary dump to Toronto finalized
Marlins salary dump to Toronto finalized
Nearly a week after the Marlins swung their widely ridiculed trade with Toronto, negative feedback keeps coming.
Commissioner Bud Selig approved the blockbuster deal, however, even though it made Marlins fans irate and made the team a nationwide punch line. The trade sends All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes to the Blue Jays along with pitchers Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson, catcher John Buck and outfielder Emilio Bonifacio for seven players, none of whom has a big-money contract.
Miami received infielders Yunel Escobar and Adeiny Hechavarria, pitchers Henderson Alvarez, Anthony DeSclafani and Justin Nicolino, catcher Jeff Mathis and outfielder Jake Marisnick.
By swinging the deal only months after the Marlins moved into a new stadium built with taxpayer money, they pared from their books $146.5 million in payroll. That’s their net savings after agreeing to send $8.5 million to the Blue Jays as part of the trade.
Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said he understood why fans were mad, and confirmed the trade was necessary because owner Jeffrey Loria wanted to pare payroll. Beinfest also conceded the deal will make it harder for the team to recruit free agents in the future.
But Selig decided not to block it.
“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.”
The players traded by the Marlins have combined guaranteed salaries of $163.75 million through 2018, including $96 million due Reyes.
“I understand the pause the fans have with the instability in our roster at a time when we were hoping to be very stable in the new stadium,” Beinfest said. “It’s not a lot of fun.”
By contrast, the trade stamps the Blue Jays as contenders in the AL East. They haven’t reached the playoffs since winning their second consecutive World Series in 1993.
Miami also finalized a deal with outfielder Juan Pierre, who agreed to a $1.6 million, one-year contract. That leaves the Marlins with an estimated opening-day payroll of $36 million for active players, which would be their lowest since 2008. In the latest figures, Oakland had the lowest payroll in the majors this year at $59.5 million.
While Beinfest said the Marlins acquired championship-caliber talent, fans believe Loria’s goal was to increase his profits in the new ballpark rather than put increased revenue into the roster.
“We did receive a payroll range from ownership that we needed to achieve,” Beinfest said. “With this transaction, we have achieved that payroll range.”
The Marlins flopped as big spenders. They began the year with a franchise-record payroll of $112 million, then went 69-93, their worst record since 1999.
After sinking to last place by midseason, the Marlins traded former NL batting champion Hanley Ramirez, second baseman Omar Infante, right-hander Anibal Sanchez and closer Heath Bell.
“We’ve finished in last place the past two years, and that is unacceptable,” Loria said in a statement. “It’s incumbent on us to make the changes necessary to make us a winner again. It may not happen overnight. But with the players we acquired in the second half of last season, coupled with the infusion of players we are acquiring now, we will be returning to Marlins baseball: high energy and hungry.”
Reyes, Buehrle and Bell signed multiyear deals as newcomers a year ago during an unprecedented Marlins spending spree, and Beinfest acknowledged other free agents might be now reluctant to sign with Miami.
“It’ll be a factor,” he said. “I don’t think we’re happy about this at all. I understand there may be some disdain in the marketplace. We won’t know until we get into those negotiations with free agents. It’s definitely not great for the club, and we’re going to have to deal with it.”
Miami’s biggest remaining star, slugger Giancarlo Stanton, has been among those expressing anger about the trade. Beinfest said he hadn’t talked with Stanton about the deal.
Why even the #WengerOut brigade should lament Arsene Wenger's exit from Arsenal
- The Frenchman revolutionised the game in England across all leagues, not just the Premier League.
- After initial success he found the going tough in the second half of his reign, but will still go down as an all-time great.
Over the past few seasons it has been fashionable to view Arsene Wenger as some sort of figure of fun — a man living in the past, left behind by the modern game, but too stubborn to realize it.
In time, though, even the most ardent, frothing-at-the-mouth #Wenger Out believer would have to agree that the Frenchman will go down not just as one of the best managers Arsenal have had, but also among the greatest in English club football.
As with any caricature, there is a hint of truth in the picture created, crude as it sometimes is. Yes, Wenger’s past few years at the Emirates have been painful to watch. Yes, he was stubborn when it came to both activity in the transfer market and belief in his methods and tactics. Yes, it is fair to say he leaves the club, on the pitch at least, in a bit of a mess. And, yes, he should have left two or three years ago.
But if there is one thing that any sane fan should remember about Wenger’s 22 years as Arsenal boss, it is this: He was a game-changer, a manager who oversaw not only a revolution of the Gunners, but also of the English game.
As soon as Wenger landed in England in 1996, he banished Arsenal’s Tuesday drinking club and munching of Mars bars — in their place came stretching sessions and broccoli. Hardly profound or radical in today’s game, but this was the era when change in English football invariably meant no pies and pints on a Friday night.
The technical, passing, possession football that is now the norm for any side with ambitions to remain in the Premier League, let alone win it, and the idea that eating vegetables rather than a tub of lard would help player performance, were brought in by Wenger alone.
He won the double in his first full season in charge, signed unheralded foreign talent such as Emmanuel Petit and Patrick Viera — who went on to become world-class players — and created teams that were a joy to watch, culminating with “The Invincibles” of 2003-04, who won the Premier League without losing a match.
The irony is that the one-time revolutionary ended up being viewed as a throwback, a stuck-in-the-mud anachronism; a manager who harked back to a time when playing with the owner’s chequebook was not seen as the only path to success and when paragraphs were favored over 140 characters.
And that perhaps explains why so many Arsenal fans seemingly wanted him gone: Wenger is not of the Twitter generation, of instant opinions for the 24-hour news agenda and of hype over humility. The man who was once seen as the future stuck to principles that were deemed as belonging to the past.
It is clear there is a lot of bad blood at the club — a ridiculous Facebook post by an Arsenal fan claimed Wenger’s announcement he was leaving made it the “greatest day in Arsenal’s history.”
But for all the bluster and nonsense, Wenger’s legacy will be that of “The Invincibles” — one of the greatest club sides of modern times; of beautiful football played at pace and with artistry; of being a decent, yet flawed, man who was never anything but articulate and courteous.
Having been in charge of Arsenal for 22 years, he is undoubtedly the last of a kind, and in the era of trigger-happy owners, short-term fixes and sensationalism over stability, that is something everyone, even the #WengerOut brigade, should lament.