A bevy of writers have blasted the Marlins, and owner Jeffrey Loria in particular, for yesterday’s fire sale, which sent the franchise’s remaining contracts of consequence north of the border to the Jays.
However, not everyone is thoroughly disgusted. Two contrarian voices have been found.
While the motivation of a franchise that made such an enormous free agent splash twelve months ago — ahead of the opening of a brand new baseball stadium — only to find itself now in the midst of a massive fire sale should be questioned, especially considering that said brand new baseball stadium was paid with public money, and the organization is about to benefit from increased revenue sharing through new television deals, the trade was quite likely the right move for the long-term health of the franchise.
In a way, this is almost unfortunate. It’s impossible to write about the Jeffrey Loria-owned Miami Marlins without using the term cynical. Despite the underhanded treatment of the fan base in teasing expectations and the ever increasing equity of a Major League Baseball team, all reasons to despise the runners of this franchise, this deal is not without merit. It saves the team money that otherwise would’ve been sunk on an at best .500 baseball club, while improving the system with the addition of a good young pitching prospect in Justin Nicolino, a defense first future shortstop in Adeiny Hechavarria and a dependable, if not anything else, shortstop for-the-now at a reasonable rate in Yunel Escobar, who was born in Cuba and should provide for at least a bit of good will to be projected toward the many Cuban fans in Miami.
Another Canada native, Grantland’s Jonah Keri, is even more supportive of the transaction:
Thing is, the Marlins weren’t going to win with the players they had, at least not for the foreseeable future. Last offseason, they signed Reyes, Buehrle, and Heath Bell while narrowly whiffing on Albert Pujols, breaking the bank in an attempt to build an exciting, winning team as they moved into a new ballpark. After all that, they won 69 games, finishing second to last in the National League in runs scored while allowing more runs than all but four other NL clubs. Free agents tend to produce their best results early in long-term deals, while they’re still at or near their prime, then fall off in later years. The Marlins got productive Year 1 performances from Reyes and Buehrle, bundled them with a talented but hugely injury-prone pitcher in Johnson plus a couple of fungible veterans, and cashed them in for some intriguing prospects, plus the GDP of a Pacific island nation in salary relief. . . .
Of course, now that the Marlins have dispensed with the pretense of fielding a competitive major league team for next year, we’re supposed to believe that Loria’s reckoning is coming. If fans have no faith in what you’re trying to do, they’ll surely stay away in droves. For all the snark over a lack of fan base, the Marlins did draw 2.2 million to their new park this year. If attendance drops something like 30 or 40 percent, that could cost the team about $30 million in 2013. That sounds terrible. Until you remember that the Marlins spent $118 million in payroll this past season. They’ll probably spend less than half of that next year. Do the math. They’re going to come out way ahead.