Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes aren't the first Marlins to be traded only one season into multi-year deals after receiving verbal assurances that they wouldn't. Carlos Delgado was also told not to worry when he expressed concerns about the team's unwillingness to grant him veto power with any trade.
And in all three instances, it appears that Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria was the one doing the comforting. A source told The Herald's Barry Jackson that was the case with Reyes, and I've heard it was the same for Buehrle.
Delgado's agent, David Sloane, said it was Loria who tried to allay his client's concerns when the Marlins were courting the free agent slugger In 2005. Sloane said that during the bidding process, Delgado had received an offer from the Texas Rangers that promised full no-trade rights while the New York Mets had agreed to provide limited no-trade protection that would allow Delgado to veto deals to a set list of specified teams. The Marlins, per team policy, refused to write binding, no-trade language into the contract.
But Loria -- anxious to sign the first baseman -- gave Delgado verbal assurances that the Marlins wouldn't trade him. Sloane remembers the moment vividly. Sloane said that after taking Delgado to lunch at Joe's Stone Crab, he and members of the Marlins front office returned to Sun Life Stadium to continue negotiating. That's when Loria looked Delgado in the eye and told him there was no need to sweat.
According to Sloane, Loria's exact words were: "If you play like you have in the past and I try to trade you, the fans will hang me in front of the stadium."
Delgado agreed to a 4-year/$52 million deal that was so heavily backloaded he received just $4 million from the Marlins in '05. Despite a banner season in which he finished sixth in the voting for NL MVP by hitting .301/.399/.582 with 33 home runs and 115 RBI, Delgado was traded to the Mets for Grant Psomas, Mike Jacobs and Yusmeiro Petit. The scaffold never went up.
"He wasn't happy about it," Sloane said.
It's probably no coincidence that in terms of total dollars, the three richest contracts awarded by the Marlins to free agents have gone to Reyes (6 years/$106 million), Buehrle (4/$58) and Delgado. With all three, the outcome proved to be the same. When it came time for salaries to escalate, the players were gone. One and done. Good riddance.
Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest acknowledged on Monday that the lastest episode may make it difficult for the team to attract free agents in the future.
"I understand there may be some disdain in the market place," Beinfest said. "We don't know until we get into those negotiations with free agents or until we show over a sustained period of time that we operate in a certain manner. It's definitely not great for the club and we're going to have to deal with it."
But Beinfest said he remains in favor of maintaining the club's policy of not giving no-trade protection.
"It's not going to be my recommendation we change our view of no-trade clauses," Beinfest said. "It was certainly not the intention, and I'll speak for Jeffrey on this, when we signed these guys, to be where we are today...."
New manager Mike Redmond has talked things through with Giancarlo Stanton after the slugger openly complained about the Marlins' salary dump.
"I reached out to him," Redmond said Tuesday on SiriusXM's Inside Pitch with Casey Stern and Jim Bowden. "I've been through that as a player, where guys have been traded, and it's tough. I appreciate the fact he's upset. As a player myself, and now as a manager, that's the kind of intensity and fire you want in your players.
"I told him how much he means to this organization and to our team. He understands what is at stake as a player, and what he has got to do to go out there, and not only to be successful for the Marlins, but to have a great year for himself and his family. I'm not worried about him. I know he will be ready for spring training, and ready to help us win ball games."
The Marlins on Tuesday added four players to their 40-man roster: outfielder Marcell Ozuna, catcher Kyle Skipworth, outfielder Kyle Jensen and left-handed pitcher Edgar Olmos. The roster now stands at 37.