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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Earlier this week Tigers GM Al Avila said that his club was going to get “lean” and “efficient” and that their days of spending big money are over. Later in the week Avila said that they would not likely offer a long term contract to outfielder J.D. Martinez, who will become a free agent after the 2017 season.
None of those comments necessarily suggested that the Tigers would be conducting a fire sale or anything, and it’s certainly possible to get leaner while still competing. One would assume that the Tigers could cut fat in the middle but still head into battle with their superstars. But that may not be the plan. Buster Olney:
. . . the message being received from the rest of the industry is a dramatic shift for one of baseball’s oldest franchises: They will listen to trade offers on everybody.
Miguel Cabrera. Justin Verlander. Ian Kinsler.
Trading those guys would be a pretty big deal. In both senses of the term.
It would take a blockbuster-sized deal to move such players. Verlander is owed $28 million a year for the next three seasons and has a vesting option for 2020 at $22 million. Cabrera just finished the first year of an eight-year, $248 million deal that will be paying him more than $30 million a year between 2018 and 2023, with an $8 million buyout for 2024. And that’s before the fact that both Verlander and Cabrera are 10/5 guys with full no-trade protection if they choose to exercise it. Beyond that Kinsler is a relative bargain at $11 million in 2017 and a $10 million club option for 2018 with a $5 million buyout. Victor Martinez and Justin Upton are hanging around too.
But for as big a trade would have to be if any one of those guys were dealt, it’d be a bigger deal in terms of team philosophy and direction. Cabrera has confirmed his Hall of Fame credentials in his nine years in Detroit. He’s the best player to wear the English D since Al Kaline and has been the biggest star in the organization for most of a generation. Verlander is nearly as important and nearly as famous. I don’t think it’s likely the Tigers will move either of them because the logistics of such deals would be mind-boggling, but even entertaining deals for these guys would alter the course of the franchise for years and years to come. It happens to every franchise eventually, but I don’t think the Tigers fan base is prepared for it to happen to them yet.
Still: the free agent market is thinner that it has been at any time in years and years. Cabrera and Verlander, if they could be had, would be the biggest splashes any team looking to improve could possibly acquire. Kinselr would be a big get for anyone as well. Al Avila knows that. Even if he’s not ready to part with his superstars, he probably owes it to his organization to at least listen.
Major League Baseball just announced the broadcast schedule for both Games 6 and 7 (if necessary) of the NLCS and the entire World Series.
There are no surprises here. The World Series games are all on Fox. The pregame show starts at 7:30 and the games themselves start just after 8pm Eastern Daylight Time, regardless of whether it’s Chicago or Los Angeles representing the National League. For some reason Game five of the World Series, scheduled a week from Sunday if it comes to pass, starts seven minutes later than all of the other games. Maybe something super exciting will happen then.