When it became apparent that Jeffrey Loria was on his way out of the league, many rejoiced. After all, Loria’s particular brand of ownership was such that the idea of the Marlins being an occasionally competitive team was farfetched, much less a consistently competitive one.
Enter Derek Jeter, an indisputably great player and a very disputably great candidate to run a baseball operations department in 2017.
Now, the new Marlins are sounding quite a bit like the old Marlins, in one important and unwelcome way: they might blow up the roster by trading the team’s best players. Like, say, reigning NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton.
There are obvious contractual issues in play, and it’s possible Jeter and others in charge are making the team better in the long run. Maybe. But it’s also very hard to recoup the actual value of a superstar like Stanton. And if he plays like he did last year, he’s most definitely a superstar. If he falls off, though, Stanton’s contract becomes a lot less movable.
The Marlins have, apparently, decided to move him, and they’re preemptively leaning on Stanton to waive his no-trade clause. We know this thanks to this report from Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald:
According to two sources with knowledge of discussions, the Marlins informed Stanton in October that if he refused to waive his no-trade rights and accept a trade, he would remain a Marlin and team officials would look to trade off other top players to reduce payroll.
While it wasn’t presented to Stanton as an ultimatum, one source said, it shows that the Marlins aren’t without leverage in their efforts to deal Stanton and relieve them of the financial burden he brings. Stanton has said he doesn’t wish to be part of a rebuild.
And hey, that makes some sense! It’s easy to pitch a star player on going to a more competitive team, at least in theory. But this isn’t really just an example of an organization looking to rebuild and offering to put their player on a more competitive team. We know that thanks to this part of Spencer’s report:
If Stanton were to reject every trade proposal and remain in Miami, the Marlins could look to trade outfielders Marcell Ozuna (projected to make $10.9 million through arbitration) and Christian Yelich (under contract for $7 million), among other core players, to help offset the salary the Marlins would be required to pay Stanton.
Those are the Marlins other prize assets, and the pitch suddenly seems a lot more about saving money at all costs, which should be enough to cause plenty of Loria-tinged flashbacks for Miami fans. (Presumably those flashbacks are tinged with flashing multicolored lights and revolving dolphins.)
Is this a situation that could end up working out in spite of the circumstances? Sure! Maybe Stanton gets to a good team that pays a fair prospect price, the Marlins get salary relief, and fans pin the blame on the previous regime. But what sucks is the Marlins have a great homegrown player they clearly don’t want to keep, and have no interest in building around. That’s tough for fans, and it’s tough for Stanton, who’s essentially being told to waive his no-trade clause or else.
As a neutral observer, though? Derek Jeter’s front office is going to be interesting to follow, mostly because we don’t know what his processes will be. MLB front offices are filled with similar types working similar angles. Variety can be fun.
But for Marlins fans, their team dumping homegrown talent right when it becomes expensive because ownership is too cheap to pay is just more of the same.