Getty Images

The new Marlins owners plan to slash payroll

37 Comments

Marlins fans who were fed up with Jeff Loria and his perceived cheapness were celebrating when news broke that the team was being sold. When they learned that the owners were (a) a deep-pocketed investment banker; and (b) a future Hall of Famer who won five World Series rings while playing for an owner who spent money to win, they were probably ecstatic.

If so, they had better rein in their expectations, because Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter plan to slash payroll. From the Miami Herald:

For those who believe Derek Jeter’s purchase of the Marlins will be a great panacea, here’s one warning:

His group doesn’t appear equipped to spend lavishly on payroll.

In fact, a potential investor who was specifically briefed by the Bruce Sherman/Jeter group this summer said they spoke of a payroll being pulled back from $115 million to potentially as low as $55 million (if Giancarlo Stanton is traded) or $80 million to $85 million if Stanton is retained at $25 million next season.

The lowest Opening Day payroll in baseball this season was that of the Milwaukee Brewers, at $60 million. That’s more than the non-Stanton goal. Only four teams were below the high end of the with-Stanton goal of $85 million. Only three were below $80 million.

Since those briefings to investors, Stanton has gone on a tear, so trading him will probably make fans even grumpier than they might have been. Trading a bunch of other veterans along with him and slashing payroll to the bone won’t make them any happier.

Oh, and one last thing the article mentions: Derek Jeter is demanding a $5 million salary to run baseball operations, mostly to help him recoup his ownership investment and to cover expenses for is commute to Miami from Tampa. This despite the fact that he has as much baseball front office experience as your aunt Tilly. Theo Epstein’s first Cubs contract — which came after winning two World Series rings with Boston and laying the groundwork for a third — paid him $3.7 million. If an owner can’t expect to make his money back from revenue and appreciation of his investment as opposed to extracting an outsized salary, perhaps he shouldn’t be buying a team? Just asking!

Anyway, glad you had a month or so of hope, Marlins fans, but it looks like you’re going to get more of the same from your new owners that you got from your old one.

Evan Longoria: ‘I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base’

Joe Scarnici/Getty Images
11 Comments

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.