I’ve seen some random writing on the Internet and heard some random chatter on talk radio about the possibility of Bud Selig stepping in and blocking the Marlins-Blue Jays trade on some “best interests of baseball” grounds. But let’s be clear about this: he won’t do it, and he probably shouldn’t.
Let’s take the “shouldn’t” first: He shouldn’t because there are situations where a trade that looks exactly like this one from a baseball perspective — a massive payroll dump for some young cheap talent — is legitimate for a team that wants to jump-start a rebuilding project. If you have expensive veterans and you’re not going anyplace, the best way to deal with it is to get rid of the expensive veterans. Cut ’em if you have no other choice, but if you can get a return for them, go for it, start fresh and move on.
The thing that makes this particular trade odious cannot be seen on the paper setting forth the terms of the transaction. The deal itself is not so unorthodox or insane that it requires intervention. Rather, it is the background of Jeff Loria and the Marlins and the b.s. and baloney he has dumped on Marlins fans and the city of Miami for a decade that makes this all so vile, and that’s all outside of the terms of the deal.
That leads to the reason why Bud Selig won’t block this trade, even if there were other good reasons to do it. He won’t do it because Selig stepping into this mess would represent rank hypocrisy. Baseball rewarded Loria for killing a franchise in Montreal. Baseball for years allowed Loria to pocket revenue sharing money rather than use it on his team to make them better and, if their financial documents hadn’t been leaked to Deadspin, likely still would allow it. Baseball has strongly encouraged owners to blackmail cities into building them publicly-funded stadiums. Indeed, it has actively discouraged efforts by owners to pay for their own ballparks.
Baseball will not block or, I presume, even criticize this trade because it is the logical product of the incentive system it itself has created. The way Loria has built up hope, taken taxpayer money and then trashed his team and crapped on his fan base may be rather extreme and possibly even disturbing for the people in the Commissioner’s Office, but given the way Loria has been incentivized for the past 10-15 years, it should not be shocking to them. And for Major League Baseball to now, after all of this time, step in and object to the way Jeff Loria is mismanaging his franchise, would be a repudiation of policies that it has long encouraged among the ownership class, and if there is one thing that Bud Selig doesn’t do it’s reverse himself when it comes to this kind of stuff.
I was on NBC SportsTalk with Erik Kuselias last night and we talked about this a bit:
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It was reported Sunday that free agent right-hander Johnny Cueto had turned down a six-year, $120 million contract from the Diamondbacks. He’s hoping to land a bigger deal this winter and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick has heard some chatter about what he’s looking for.
Jordan Zimmermann finalized a five-year, $110 million contract with the Tigers today, which works out to $22 million per season. Arizona’s offer to Cueto checked in at $20 million per season. A six-year offer to Cueto at the same AAV (average annual value) as Zimmermann would put him at $132 million, which is still a little shy of the figure stated by Crasnick. Of course, Cueto owns a 2.71 ERA (145 ERA+) over the last five seasons compared to a 3.14 ERA (123 ERA+) by Zimmermann during that same timespan, so there’s a case to be made that he should get more. Still, he’s the clear No. 3 starter on the market behind David Price and Zack Greinke.
CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Dodgers, Giants, Red Sox, and Cubs are among the other teams who have interest in Cueto. One variable in his favor is that he is not attached to draft pick compensation, as he was traded from the Reds to the Royals during the 2015 season.
The rebuilding Braves have already been active on the trade market and they might not be done, as CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that right-hander Shelby Miller has been a very popular name. In fact, around 20 teams have checked in.
Nothing is considered close and the Braves have set a very high asking price, mostly centered around offense. They asked for right-hander Luis Severino in talks with the Yankees and would expect outfielder Marcell Ozuna among other pieces from the Marlins. The Diamondbacks and Giants are among the other interested clubs.
Miller is under team control through 2018, so there’s not necessarily a sense of urgency to move him, but anything is possible with the way the Braves are doing things right now. The 25-year-old is coming off a year where he went 6-17, but that was about really rotten luck more than anything else, as he had a fine 3.02 ERA and 171/73 K/BB ratio over 205 1/3 innings. The Braves gave him the worst run support of any starter in the majors.
Jenrry Mejia appeared in just seven games this past season due to a pair of suspensions for performance-enhancing drugs, but Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Mets are expected to tender him a contract for 2016.
While the Mets were vocal about their disappointment in Mejia’s actions, it makes sense to keep him around as an option. Had he played a full season in 2015, he would have earned $2.595 million. He’s arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter and figures to receive a contract similar to his 2015 figure, but he’ll only be paid for the games he plays. He still has 100 games to serve on his second PED suspension, which means that he’ll only be paid for 62 games in 2016. This likely puts his salary closer to $1 million, which is a small price to pay for someone who could prove useful during the second half and beyond. He also won’t count toward the team’s 40-man roster until he’s active.
Mejia, who turned 26 in October, owns a 3.68 ERA in the majors and saved 28 games for the Mets in 2014. He’s currently pitching as a starter in the Dominican Winter League.
UPDATE: The deal is official. Bowman adds that Johnson will make $2.5 million in 2016.
6:11 p.m. ET: Jim Johnson enjoyed some success out of the Braves’ bullpen in 2015 until a midseason trade to the Dodgers and Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports that he has returned to Atlanta on a one-year contract. No word yet on the terms involved.
After an awful 2014 between the Athletics and Tigers, Johnson signed a one-year deal with the Braves last winter and bounced back to the tune of a 2.25 ERA and 33/14 K/BB ratio over 48 innings. He also saved nine games. However, things went south for him after a trade to the Dodgers in late July, as he put up an ugly 10.13 ERA in 23 appearances. He was left off the team’s roster for the NLDS against the Mets.
It’s unclear what role the Braves have in mind for Johnson, as Arodys Vizcaino finished the season as the closer, but they have made upgrading their bullpen a priority this winter.