In criticizing new Marlins owner Derek Jeter at the MLB general managers meetings in Orlando on Wednesday, agent Scott Boras indirectly raised an issue to USA Today that some Marlins fans are probably thinking:
Why did Jeter and Bruce Sherman buy the team if they cannot afford a sizable payroll?
“When you’re looking at building a market and you have an All-Star outfield with all the dynamics,’’ Boras said told Bob Nightingale in that USA Today piece. “And you have a club being purchased at $1.2 billion, what happens is that you got a marketplace saying the new owners are coming in here and saying they’re making the franchise better. We’re excited. And then where we are now creating a plan where we are not going to win [for] five or six years.
“We’re going to basically reduce our payroll. We’re going to rid our team of our substantial stars. We’re going to set up this five, six year plan. We basically have a system in baseball where we have sales of franchises, and we have a reduction.
“Basically the idea is to reduce the debt service to pay for the franchise by reducing all major league payroll, not being competitive, basically using the argument that we’re going to build a successful team through development.
“That has nothing to do with the fans. It has nothing to do with winning. It has nothing to do with anything other than a financial plan that suits ownership without consideration of the impact it has on Major League Baseball.’’
The Miami Herald first reported that Jeter and Sherman told other owners they plan to reduce payroll from $115 million to $90 million in 2018 and also are planning for a $90 million payroll in 2019.
Only Milwaukee, Tampa Bay, San Diego and Oakland began last season with a payroll below $90 million. The current Marlins roster would cost more than $140 million next season if kept together, and Jeter said Wednesday that the team needs to be operated in a different way financially moving forward.
The Marlins continue pursuing trades involving Giancarlo Stanton in an effort to reduce payroll and have had discussions with at least eight teams.
Nightingale wrote that “Boras believes that MLB should prevent prospective ownership groups from purchasing franchises if they plan to reduce their payroll to help pay for the club.”
Said Boras to USA Today: “When we allow sales of teams, there needs to be some sort of legislation. There needs to be some restriction so that the integrity of the game, as it applies to other teams, is considered. So we don’t have divisions playing an opponent that’s going to win 55 games where other divisions have teams winning 75 to 95 games.’’
Boras represents several Marlins, including outfielder Marcell Ozuna and pitcher Wei Yin Chen, but not Stanton, whose agent is Joel Wolfe.
A couple of points worth considering:
A Marlins executive told us Jeffrey Loria was tapped out financially in loans and would have needed to dramatically reduce payroll if he kept the team.
An associate of Jorge Mas said Mas never intended to cut payroll as much as Jeter intends, but the Marlins prefered the Jeter/Sherman offer because it was higher and some Marlins people questioned whether Mas could afford the investment.
Wayne Rothbaum had the liquidity to sustain loses but his bid for the Marlins was doomed when a prominent investor, at the last minute, proved incapable of delivering the $200 million that he promised. It is believed that he would not have dramatically reduced the payroll in the first two years.
• Jeter, asked Wednesday if he sees a way for the franchise to be well operated, said: “I don’t like the word rebuild because I think a lot of negativity comes with that, but we’re trying to build something here. We will build something. But it will take time. But I’m learning the franchise as well -- learning the players, learning the players that are in the minor league system.”
• But Jeter has never experienced a losing season in professional baseball.
How tough is that going to be to have to have patience?
“You’re assuming we’re going to lose,” he said. “I don’t assume. I don’t think anyone says that the World Series is an unrealistic goal.”
• On Monday, we detailed here Jeter’s plans to increase revenue, including one thing he said today - selling naming rights to the stadium.
“It’s developing and having true partners,” Jeter said. “You have to develop that culture. You have to bring the fans back. You have to bring the corporate partners about. I’ve spent a lot of time over the last month and a half, going out and meeting with people in the community.
“Look at Miami. It’s the key to Latin America. There’s a lot of baseball fans there. You saw it with the WBC. I was surprised to see where they had those sell-outs, 85 percent of the fans at those games were from the Miami area. So there is support for Miami there.”
• Jeter commented for the first time about the dismissals of Jeff Conine, Andre Dawson, Tony Perez and Jack McKeon. All except McKeon later were offered - and turned down - new jobs with lesser responsibilities and dramatically diminished salaries.
“The version of what happened is what happened,” Jeter said of a story first reported by The Herald. “We made it clear that the former president [David Samson] wasn’t coming back. Those guys were special assistants to the president. So when he was notified he wasn’t coming back, he was told to notify the people that work for him. So they were notified.
“After we got approved for the team, I reached back and said I’d love to use you guys in some capacity. Came into the office, we spoke to them, let them know what capacity it was. And it was their decision. And I respect that decision. It’s up to them what they wanted to do. But it’s a different organization now. We’re running things a little bit differently. So they had that option and I respect their opinion.”
• One thing has surprised Jeter so far: “One thing I’ve found kind of interesting is that when you’re on the field, you’re trying to beat the other team. From an ownership standpoint, I’m surprised at how many people who have reached out saying they’re willing to help. You learn as you go. There’s really no playbook for it.”
• Here’s what Jeter said Wednesday about a Giancarlo Stanton trade and other issues.