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.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.