Miami Marlins should be skeptical of Loria working in their best interest

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Does Loria think he has the shortstop of the future, or just a $2 million coupon? Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Does Loria think he has the shortstop of the future, or just a $2 million coupon? Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /
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In the wake of the Hechavarria trade, it seems fair to question whether or not Marlins fans can still trust their owner to operate in the best interest of the franchise.

Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has never been popular.

To be blunt, since he let Derek Lee and Ivan Rodriguez walk after the 2003 title run, he’s been increasingly despised every year. If there was ever an owner in sports who more universally and unalterably deplored by local fans and national media alike, the identify of that person eludes me.

Loria could donate $1000 to charity for every ticket sold, personally find a way to trade Tom Koehler for Clayton Kershaw straight up, and catch a falling child during the All-Star Game. It wouldn’t matter: he’d still be raked over the coals.

Of course, the enmity has been pretty well earned. Loria could give seminars on how to alienate a fanbase. The art dealer has made an art of making the wrong move, either blatantly misreading or not caring about public perception time and again.

When it comes to the cold calculus of running a business, you kind have to admire the guy.

However, this recent trade of Adeiny Hechavarria might well be his jump the shark moment. It’s worth looking at whether Loria is operating in the best interest of the Miami Marlins, or his own bottom line.

And if the answer is the latter, then it’s on Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball to make sure things don’t take a turn for the worse.

Move About Miami Marlins Or Money?

Let’s be clear. This isn’t about the decision to replace Adeiny Hechavarria with JT Riddle in the starting lineup. Yes, Hechavarria is a better defender, and will probably finish the season hitting for a higher average than Riddle. But he has shown enough promise to warrant the faith that he could develop into an overall more well-rounded player.

He needs MLB bats for that determination to be made though, and Hechavarria was in the way.

Okay then. Trade away. Especially when you consider he’s rejected previous attempts to sign him to a long term deal. Riddle and Miguel Rojas are cheaper, and have shown they can carry most of the weight. Completely understandable if you want to part ways.

What is not understandable though, and indeed is completely unacceptable, is the decision to trade Hechavarria for salary relief.

The Marlins didn’t even pull down a Top 30 Rays prospect in this deal. Not Top 30 overall, Top 30 for an individual organization. Both prospects are admittedly having solid 2017 campaigns, but for the most part, Ethan Clark and Braxton Lee might as well be a couple boxes of Louisville Sluggers.

In exchange for this paltry return, the Rays will be taking on every remaining penny of Hechavarria’s 2017 salary, saving Loria over $2 million.

Under normal circumstances, even this could be danced around by the optimistic Marlins fan. And on many occasions over the years, I have chosen that route. Every penny saved is a penny that can be spent later.

This time is different

In seasons past, I would be telling myself that saving that $2 million now means another year of Ichiro, or paying the salary raise of someone else on the roster. An impact bench or bullpen piece next year perhaps.

Bottom-line, I’d be confident the money was going to make it’s way back into the roster.

But this time, the circumstances are not normal. The impending sale of the team changes things dramatically. It”s fair to speculate that this wasn’t about better reallocating Marlins resources. Rather, it was about milking every last cent of profit out of the franchise before passing the baton to the new ownership.

If he was willing to spend that money at the start of year, and if this move was to believed for the good of the Marlins, then it should have been eaten in order to net some better prospects.

Now, maybe the front office had Clark and Lee penciled in at the top of their wish list. Even out of players they could get if they had eaten the remaining salary.

Next: Mets at Marlins: Three stories

The real test will be the next Miami Marlins trade that happens, should it come. The ascension of Riddle muddles the issue slightly, as there was a clear heir apparent in place. That isn’t the case for any other players on the active roster.

Should the team not offer any financial compensation in a deal involving Kyle Barraclough, David Phelps A.J. Ramos, or even Koehler, then there’s officially something rotten in the state of Marlins Park.

And MLB will have to step in and say that it’s not to be.

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