Sources say that the Marlins have agreed to a trade that will slash their payroll from $102 million to $24.4 million by sending Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, John Buck, and Emilio Bonifacio to Toronto in exchange for Yunel Escobar, Henderson Alvarez, Jeff Mathis and prospects Jake Marisnick, Adeiny Hechavarria, Justin Nicolino, and Anthony DeSclafani. Wow. Let's take a step back for a second, so we can see just what a huge middle finger this is to Miami's fans.
Flashback to December of last year. The Marlins opened up their checkbooks and quickly worked a three-year $27 million deal for closer Heath Bell — then turned their sights on New York Mets batting champ José Reyes, who signed a six-year $102 million contract with The Fish. Three days later, star pitcher Mark Buehrle joined in the orgy of cash and signed a four-year $58 million deal to take his talents to South Beach. That meant the Marlins entered the 2012 season with two of the best infielders in baseball (Reyes and Hanley Ramirez), a great, if second-tier pitcher (Buehrle), a great reliever (Bell), and one of the most exciting young outfielders in baseball (Giancarlo Stanton). Besides an exciting roster, the team added a new look, a new love of specificity ("Forget the Florida Marlins, our Marlins belong exclusively to Miami, fuck off, Kissimmee!"), an entertaining, talented, crazy person managing the team (Ozzie!!!), and a brand-new stadium to tie everything together. For the first time in years, baseball fans in Miami had something to look forward to. And then they started playing baseball games.
The season didn't go according to plan. Ozzie Guillen said some dumb things about Castro. Bell got rocked. Both Ramirez and Reyes struggled and before you know it the Marlins found themselves at the bottom of the National League East.
So obviously changes needed to be made, but this? This is extreme. It was one thing to trade Hanley Ramirez to L.A. during the season. That was a deal that would let the Marlins add a young pitching prospect (Nate Eovaldi), clear a huge amount of salary, and rid the team of the seemingly rapid decline of Ramirez (who rebounded a bit over the second half in L.A.). It's another thing to take a match to your entire foundation, and that's what this is. This is a full-out rebuild less than 12 months after selling your fans on a very expensive assemblage of All-Stars. How can Marlins fans trust this ownership group to be different than the previous one? This is exactly what the team has always done. It's the THIRD massive fire-sale in the Marlins' 18-year existence. If I (for whatever reasons) were a fan of the Miami baseball franchise, I'm pretty sure I'd be thinking about adopting a scrappy team from Tampa as my own. At least most of those guys will probably be back next year. But don't take my word for it. What do you think, lone exciting Marlins player spared by this deal, Giancarlo Stanton?