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Jeff Conine wants Hall of Fame to be clean; Miami Marlins trade Yunel Escobar

Jeff Conine knows the Hall of Fame probably isn’t in his future.

“No chance,” Conine said.

But “Mr. Marlin” doesn’t think he’ll be the only former player on this year’s Hall of Fame ballot to be denied entrance to Cooperstown. The way Conine sees it, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa — names linked to baseball’s steroids era — probably won’t be getting in, either.

“I think the writers are going to make them pay for that,” Conine said of baseball writers, who vote for the Hall. “I don’t think they’re going to let ’em in.”

If that’s the case, and Bonds, Clemens, Sosa and others whose names were stained by allegations of steroid use during their playing careers don’t land in the Hall, they’ll receive no objection from Conine. He doesn’t believe they deserve to get in, either.

“I think all the guys of my era and my playing time would probably agree, that if you didn’t do anything, you don’t see why guys who did should get into the Hall of Fame,” Conine said.

Like Bonds, Clemens and Sosa, Conine is appearing on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time. Given that a player needs at least 5 percent of the vote to remain on the ballot in subsequent years, Conine is well aware that this might be the only time he’ll be up for consideration.

Conine was a steady, though not spectacular player, during his 17 major-league seasons, during which he hit .285 with 214 home runs and played for both of the Marlins’ two World Series teams.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I could possibly be on a list of a group of names like that after my baseball career was over,” Conine said. “I’m not discounting the fact that there’s some controversy on this year’s list, obviously. But regardless of what year it would have been, it would have been an honor. Just to be on there once is an honor.”

 percent to 70percent of players — if not more — used performance-enhancing drugs.

Winter meetings

But, unlike the Toronto trade, this deal isn’t a salary dump.

Although Escobar is due to make $5 million next season, sources said the Marlins intend to reinvest that money elsewhere on their big-league roster, either by obtaining help at third base or center field.

Tuesday’s trade, which is pending physicals, comes as no surprise. The Marlins have been actively shopping Escobar from the time they obtained him.

Several teams expressed interest in Escobar, but Miami deemed the Rays’ offer the best. Baseball America ranked Dietrich, 23, as the Rays’ ninth-best prospect.

Dietrich, who swings left-handed, plays second and shortstop and is a .278 hitter in three minor-league seasons. The former second-round draft pick out of Georgia Tech split last season at Single A and Double A.

Although the Marlins had met with Escobar and told him they intended to use him at third base, they were never keen on keeping him. For one thing, they had settled on Adeiny Hechavarria — who also joined the Marlins in the Toronto trade — as their shortstop. For another, they had concerns with Escobar’s character issues.

Escobar was eager to put the Marlins behind him.

In a story published Tuesday by El Nuevo Herald, the native of Cuba said: “I came here with a lot of excitement to play in front of Miami’s Latin fans, especially the Cuban ones. But in these moments, I think the best for my career is to go somewhere else where I’m appreciated more. I think I have a lot to offer as a ballplayer, but you need to be wanted. I’m not feeling that here.”

The Marlins are now likely to turn their attention to locating a third baseman and, possibly, a center fielder. Free agent third basemen Mark Reynolds and Ian Stewart are possibilities.

There’s a better chance that he would be dealt at the July 31 trading deadline.

Larry Beinfest, the Marlins’ president of baseball operations, had “nothing to say” about agent Matt Sosnick’s comments.

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