Barry Jackson

Loria moving forward with Marlins sales talks

AP

A few Marlins notes on a Saturday:

• The question is no longer if Jeffrey Loria will sell the Marlins. It’s how quickly.

According to people briefed on the situation in the past week, Loria is fully expected to sell the team sometime this year, barring an unforeseen change of heart. He has decided it’s time to move on from baseball.

The Marlins are actively engaged in discussions with four groups and have had additional conversations with two others. MLB is aware of the identity of the Marlins suitors, which include both local and out-of-town investors.

The Marlins, as of Friday, had not struck a deal with any of the six suitors but would like to reach an agreement with someone in the coming months, with closing and MLB approval before the end of the year.

And don’t assume that all these bidders would dramatically increase payroll. That could depend in part on how much Fox is willing to pay the Marlins after their local TV deal expires after 2020. The Marlins pocket the least local TV revenue in baseball.

Loria has consistently declined to comment since sales rumors surfaced.

• My biggest on-field question of the offseason, beyond the curious decision to go with 13 relievers and just four bench players:

Why didn’t the Marlins sign one of the decent remaining free agent pitchers in February, such as Travis Wood or Jason Hammel (both now off the market), instead of trading one of their top prospects (Luis Castillo) and two others for Dan Straily?

“It’s just the control,” Marlins executive Michael Hill explained. “With Straily, we’ve got four years of control [before free agency]. He’s a pre-arbitration player. When we compared them apples to apples in terms of ability, we felt he was the best.”

• Toughest Marlins decision this spring: What to do with Jose Urena (5-14, 5.76 ERA), who’s out of minor league options. He has allowed two runs in three spring innings.

“If he’s productive, which we think he can be, he’ll be on the team,” Hill said. “If he doesn’t perform, then we ran out of time and there’s somebody better than him. If he doesn’t make our club, there will definitely be a trade market. Teams have asked about him.”

Please click here and here for my two Heat posts today, with lots of news. The first deals with why LeBron James didn’t play against the Heat and explores an interesting Heat tradition. The second explores more things to keep in mind if the Heat has a choice of Dion Waiters and Dwyane Wade this summer, plus an area of Hassan Whiteside’s game that needs growth.

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