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.
The Astros, Braves and Nationals came sniffing around White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana during the Winter Meetings, but each appeared to find the Sox’ asking price well beyond what they were willing to give up for the starter. On Saturday, Peter Gammons revealed that the White Sox had floated Francis Martes, Kyle Tucker and Joe Musgrove as a possible return for Quintana.
It’s a strategy that worked well for Chicago in the past, most recently when they dealt Chris Sale to the Red Sox for Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, among others, and flipped Adam Eaton to the Nationals for a trio of pitching prospects. Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow didn’t appear eager to sacrifice some of his core talent to net a high-end starter, however, and told the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan as much on Wednesday:
We’re prepared to trade players to improve our club right now. […] We’re just not prepared to trade away players that are core to our production in 2017, and those are sometimes the players that are required to get these deals done.
While Lunhow was speaking specifically to the inclusion of third baseman Alex Bregman in future deals, it’s not unrealistic to think that top prospects Francis Martes and Kyle Tucker would also be considered instrumental to the Astros’ plans for the next few seasons.
Martes, 21, currently sits atop the team’s top prospect list on MLB.com. The right-hander blazed through his first full season in Double-A Corpus Christi, posting a 3.30 ERA and career-best 9.4 K/9 over 125 1/3 innings in 2016. Tucker, meanwhile, profiles as the Astros’ second-best prospect and made a successful jump to High-A Lancaster last season, slashing .339/.435/.661 in 69 PA. Rookie right-hander Joe Musgrove is the only player left off the top prospect list, but he got off to a decent start with the club in 2016 as well, going 4-4 with a 4.06 ERA and 3.44 K/BB rate in 62 innings during his first major league season.
Twins’ right-handed pitching prospect Yorman Landa passed away in a tragic car accident on Friday night, per a team statement. According to Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press, 22-year-old Landa was in the passenger seat of the vehicle when it struck a fallen tree.
Daniel Szew, Landa’s agent, spoke highly of the young pitcher, who was one of his first clients back in 2010. Szew acknowledged Landa for helping him expand his company, LA Sports Management, and referred to the late pitcher as a leader and his “little brother.”
He was very even-keeled,” Szew said. “That was his personality. He wasn’t wild. That’s why this is so tragic. He wasn’t a wild guy. He was a happy-go-lucky guy who took life as it came, and he was super happy — always happy.
If leadership was one facet of Landa’s personality, so was loyalty. The 22-year-old agreed to a minor league contract with the Twins on Tuesday after getting cut from the 40-man roster, fulfilling a promise to re-sign with the club despite fielding multiple offers from competing teams. The deal included an invite to spring training, and comments from his agent suggested that the right-hander was “super confident” he’d break through to the major leagues in 2017, notwithstanding a troublesome shoulder injury that hampered his progress in High-A Fort Myers during the 2016 season.
“He never wanted to leave,” Szew told Berardino. “It was the only organization he ever knew.”
Our condolences go out to Landa’s family and the Twins organization during this terrible time.