If you frequent the blog, you’ll remember that I put up a post about a month ago entitled “Dan Le Batard, I’m Actually With Commissioner Manfred On This One.” In the piece, I talked about the history of the Marlins and said that I thought the Marlins did not look like a team that was going to compete in the near future, but they clearly had some sort of plan to rebuild from the ground up.
I also wrote that despite what Commissioner Manfred said in the Le Batard interview, I believed that he knew to some extent that the Marlins would be slashing payroll. I don’t think he knew the drastic measures they would be taking to get there, but since he had to approve the sale of the team, he must have known of the general direction they were heading.
I now write to say I take it all back.
Okay, maybe not all of it. I still maintain that Le Batard was acting like a petulant child in his interview with Manfred, but I find it hard to believe that Manfred approved this sale without knowing that the Marlins would be slashing this much payroll.
The Marlins just traded a franchise cornerstone under one of the most team-friendly contracts in all of baseball right now (Yelich is owed $43.25MM over the next four seasons with a $15MM team option for 2022, according to Spotrac). Sure, the Marlins are not going to compete in 2018 or 2019, and perhaps not even until 2021, but the point is that they were going to get there eventually. The operative word in that sentence is “were,” because after making this boneheaded move, I’m not so sure.
I understand that players don’t want to play for teams they have no chance of winning with, and Yelich exemplified that fact earlier this offseason by indicating he would like to be traded. My apologies to the players of Major League Baseball, but since when did the players under contract get to decide where they play? Yelich is not a free agent and is under contract until 2021. Whether he liked it or not, he was going to suit up for the Marlins in 2018 and beyond had they kept him. But they didn’t because the new Marlins ownership group seems to care more about pinching pennies than Jeffrey Loria did.
There, I said it. How’s one more time in big, bold letters?
The new Marlins ownership group seems to care more about pinching pennies than Jeffrey Loria did.
Let me make one thing crystal clear: this trade could have been a lot worse. Brinson is easily one of the top outfield prospects in all of baseball and Diaz is ranked as the #4 second base prospect by MLB pipeline. Harrison is on the upswing after a great performance in the Arizona Fall League, and I have never heard of Yamamoto, but a quick glance at his numbers indicates that he was a pretty solid get.
With all of that being said, this still was a ridiculously nonsensical trade for the Marlins to make, and the only real reason I can think of that the team would want to make this move is green and rhymes with “honey” (hint: it’s money). I reiterate: no team, despite where they stand in their contention cycle, benefits from dealing a franchise cornerstone on a team-friendly contract. The emphasis there belongs on the “team-friendly” detail because Stanton, despite being a franchise cornerstone and the reigning MVP, has a massive contract that would be prohibitive to a lot of teams in baseball. The Yankees, of course, can take something like that on with relative ease, so I could at least understand the Marlins dealing Stanton to the Yankees. The Ozuna trade makes a lot less sense (though Ozuna was going to be a free agent after the 2019 season, and the Marlins wouldn’t be contending before then, so it made sense to get better prospects now as opposed to losing a year of control by dealing him next offseason) than the Stanton trade, but it still can be somewhat justified.
The Yelich trade, on the other hand, is a completely different animal. Saving under $10MM this season is not going to do anything tangible for the team’s payroll, and getting rid of Yelich makes no sense for any team planning to contend within the next five seasons. And if the Marlins are not planning to contend in the next five seasons, Manfred probably knew about that prior to the sale and shouldn’t have approved the sale. The prospects they got are good and have quite a bit of potential, but the prospects are just that right now: potential. Teams can’t win games with potential.
This is going to be hard to read, but bear with me. Marlins fans, be careful what you wish for. Loria was a bad owner, but it doesn’t look like the Jeter ownership group is going to be any better. They just got rid of the team’s most valuable remaining asset after getting rid of their other top-two most valuable assets earlier in the offseason. Unfortunately, it looks like it’s only going to get worse.
MLB Trade Rumors published a report today that detailed the possibility of the Marlins dealing catcher J.T. Realmuto. It looks like a deal involving Realmuto is going to come to fruition prior to the end of the offseason, which will complete the Marlins’ mission of stripping their roster of all salary burdens and, in the process, all talent.
I want to end the article by apologizing to Marlins fans for ever thinking that the Jeter front office is motivated by winning because that clearly is not the case. By trading Yelich today, the new ownership group showed the fans that they only care about money, which is ironic because they might set the record for lowest attendance ever in 2018. Low attendance means low ticket sales, which means less revenue. Ironic, isn’t it?
Does publishing this article ruin my chances of ever working for the Marlins? Probably, but to be brutally honest, I don’t think I could ever see myself working in an organization in any industry that does not intend to be the best at what they do. And last I checked, baseball teams don’t get rings for frugality.
(Image Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports via AZCentral.com)
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