Reports indicate that Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter intend to slash payroll significantly. It could be worse.
The introductory press conference held by the Miami Marlins new owners left a lot of fans uneasy. Derek Jeter said “unpopular decisions” were in the near future. We are starting to have a clearer picture of exactly what that means.
According to a source in Major League Baseball, and reported in the Miami Herald, Jeter and Sherman intend to cut payroll down to the $90 million range before the start of next season. The figure supposedly comes directly from the operating plan Jeter and Sherman submitted as part of their purchase of the team.
Several players could be on the move, but not all of them.
Giancarlo Stanton appears to be the likeliest casualty. Coming off a monster year in which he slugged 59 home runs, his contract is more tradeable now than it’s ever been. As much as $295 million could come off the books if the team found a taker for his entire contract.
But with financial commitments elsewhere, he might be one of several winter meetings casualties.
Dee Gordon bounced back in a major way in 2017 and produced tremendous value. The 3.1 WAR he created was the second best of his career and his trade value has never been higher. Moving him to a team that figures to contend right away would clear $10.8 million for 2018.
The Marlins would love to be able to move Martin Prado, but that might too tall a task after struggling through injuries last season. His $13.5 million looms large on the payroll, and the team is keen to cycle youngster Brian Anderson in full-time.
Other players that could be moved
The Marlins will put feelers out for Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna as well. Yelich is on a reasonably team friendly contract, and it will take a pirates booty steal him away from Miami. Ozuna is remains under team control, but could make over $10 million in arbitration next year.
Dan Straily will get somewhere between $4-5 million in arbitration, which means the team might look to move him too.
Unfortunately, players who can’t reasonably contribute are receiving a lot of cash next season. Edinson Volquez will make $13 million while he rehabs from Tommy John surgery; Brad Ziegler and Junichi Tazawa don’t figure to make good on their combined $16 million hit.
But the crown jewel of all bad contracts is that of Wei-Yin Chen. The Taiwanese lefty has battled injuries and failed to deliver on the monstrous contract Jeffery Loria awarded him. He’ll make $10 million next season (and an additional $8 million in June). Then make over $20 million the succeeding two years.
There is doubt as to whether or not he’ll see the field next season.
The Miami Marlins face a long road to financial solvency, and unpopular decisions do indeed appear on the horizon. The team is undoubtedly in need of retooling, and if the new ownership group hits on most of their trades, playoff baseball could be in the near future.