NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Reacting to the Miami Marlins’ latest payroll purge on Twitter, slugger Giancarlo Stanton gave it three exclamation marks.
He wasn’t exaggerating. The Marlins’ spending spree a year ago didn’t work, so they went the salary-dumping route again Tuesday, shedding some of their biggest stars and multimillion-dollar salaries in one blockbuster deal.
The Marlins swapped high-priced talent for top prospects, trading All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes, left-hander Mark Buehrle and ace right-hander Josh Johnson to the Toronto Blue Jays, a person familiar with the agreement said.
The person confirmed the trade to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the teams weren’t officially commenting. The person said the trade sent several of the Blue Jays’ best young players to Miami.
The stunning agreement came less than a year after the Marlins added Reyes, Buehrle and closer Heath Bell in an uncharacteristic $191 million spending binge as they rebranded and moved into a new ballpark. The acquisitions raised high hopes, but the Marlins instead finished last in the NL East.
Salary-paring actually began in July, when the Marlins parted with former NL batting champion Hanley Ramirez, second baseman Omar Infante, right-hander Anibal Sanchez and reliever Randy Choate among others. Bell, the team’s high-profile bust, was traded to Arizona last month.
“It’s just unexplainable,” Choate said, according to the New York Times. “I don’t think any of those guys would have signed there if they thought they’d get traded one year later. Obviously, they don’t give any no-trade clauses, and now you see why.”
Under owner Jeffrey Loria, long the target of fan acrimony, the Marlins have usually been among baseball’s thriftiest teams. Management pledged that would change with the new ballpark, but team officials were disappointed with attendance in 2012, and revenue fell far short of their projections.
Even so, the blockbuster deal came as a shock. The players involved must undergo physicals before the trade becomes final.
Stanton, the Marlins’ precocious slugger, wasn’t involved in the deal but wasn’t happy about it.
“Alright, I’m (peeved)!!! Plain & Simple,” he tweeted shortly after the news broke.
The housecleaning was also the subject of much mirth on Twitter.
“Good trade, I think we won it,” tweeted FakeSamson, a site that mocks team president David Samson.
Toronto star Jose Bautista had a different interpretation.
“Its a good day to be a bluejay!” he tweeted.
The swap was easier for the Marlins to swing because of their longstanding policy of refusing to include no-trade clauses in contracts.
The deal gave an immediate boost to the Blue Jays, who have not reached the playoffs since winning their second consecutive World Series in 1993. Toronto went 73-89 this season and finished fourth in the AL East for the fourth straight year, again falling short in a division that includes big spenders.
The Marlins changed their name a year ago but failed to change their losing ways, and instead of contending for a playoff berth, they finished 69-93, their worst record since 1999.
The Marlins drew more than 2.2 million fans but had projected attendance of nearly 3 million. Team officials blamed the difference in part on manager Ozzie Guillen’s laudatory comments early in the year about former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, which antagonized a large segment of an already-small fan base.
Guillen was fired after only one season with the team and replaced this month by the Marlins’ former backup catcher, Mike Redmond.
President of baseball operations Larry Beinfest hinted at a big change in direction less than two weeks ago.
“We’ve kind of lost our Marlins way,” he said. “The real Marlins way was we always outperformed our challenges. Whatever our challenges were, whether it was playing in a football stadium or weather or a lack of fans, or lack of revenue for that matter, we always found a way to outperform our challenges.”
It now appears management will field a team with the expectation players will outperform their contracts, which was the franchise model for most of the past decade. The roster shake-up during the season reduced the payroll to $90.3 million from $112 million on opening day, and now could be dramatically lower next season.
Feel better about your situation now, Mets fans? And Yankees fans — how about those Jays? Be heard in the comments below!
(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)