Frustrated by a lack of playing time and multiple efforts to be released from his contract, Miguel Olivo walked out on the Marlins during last night’s game against the Cardinals. As a result, he was placed on the restricted list today without pay.
Olivo opened the season as a backup to Rob Brantly, but he has functioned as a third catcher and bench bat since Jeff Mathis returned from a broken collarbone last month. The 34-year-old backstop has only made one start since May 12 and has logged just 18 plate appearances during the very same timespan.
According to Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post, Olivo met with Marlins manager Mike Redmond in the clubhouse during batting practice yesterday before going back out on the field and taking some swings. However, he was spotted in street clothes in the clubhouse just prior to the game and refused to stick around to talk to a member of the front office.
“I’ve never been involved in something like that, to have somebody just leave after batting practice. I think everyone was kind of in shock,’’ Redmond said.
“I know it wasn’t an ideal situation for him not getting to play a lot, but at the same time, too, the team relies on you and we all rely on you. Had that happened after the game it probably would have been a different situation.
“But when you do it before the game and put your team in a tough spot, that’s tough. It really tough on your teammates and your coaches.
“You’d have to ask him really why he chose that time to do it.’’
Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald was able to catch up with Olivo, who said that he doesn’t understand “why they keep me doing nothing” and that he’s “just praying to God they release me.”
It’s hard to see why the Marlins would go through all this trouble to keep a .241/.275/.417 career hitter around. It sure sounds like a waste of a roster spot. Hopefully they aren’t just being petty here, though I’m not sure they deserve much benefit of the doubt. While walking out on his team might not create the most favorable impression for a future employer, it’s fair to say that Olivo has played his final game with the Marlins.
The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.
Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.
Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”
Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.
The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.