Jeffrey Loria has long been on the short list of MLB’s worst owners, but he’s truly outdone himself now by trading Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle, just one year after signing them to long-term deals, along with Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck to the Blue Jays on Tuesday.
Of course, the topper is that the move comes one year after the Marlins opened a new publicly funded stadium in Miami.
Loria amassed his fortune as an art dealer. Now he looks like a scam artist. Certainly the bait-and-switch has rarely been pulled off so artfully.
The Marlins had a $95 million payroll in 2012 after signing a trio of big-name free agents in Reyes, Buehrle and Heath Bell last winter. Now all three are gone, with a combined 10 seasons left on their contracts. Also gone are the team’s two most expensive holdovers in Hanley Ramirez and Johnson.
What’s left is a shell of a franchise, one that will almost certainly have the lowest payroll in baseball. More importantly, it will have no credibility in the eyes of its employees or fans. It’s lone remaining star, Giancarlo Stanton, has already expressed his anger. It’s hard to imagine him ever signing a long-term deal with the club, which could mean he’ll be the big name to go next winter.
Loria has now entered two markets and all but wrecked baseball for both of them. It’s in the best interests of the game that he exit for good. Commissioner Bud Selig should step in and apply as much pressure as he legally can in order to get Loria to sell. Otherwise, Loria and the deal that allowed him to trade the Montreal Expos for the Marlins will go down as black marks on Selig’s legacy.
Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.
Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.
Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.
Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):
We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.
Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.
Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.
Hazen issued a statement following the signing:
With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.