We are now only a few weeks into the Bruce Sherman/Derek Jeter era of Miami Marlins baseball, and, suffice to say, things have gotten off to a rocky start. Dee Gordon, Giancarlo Stanton, and Marcell Ozuna were traded away in deals that more closely resemble salary dumps than baseball trades. Martin Prado, Christian Yelich, Dan Straily and others could soon be moved in cost-cutting deals as well.
The Sherman/Jeter group is slashing payroll in an effort to get the club's debt -- which reportedly tops $400 million -- under control so they build something sustainable in the future. Is it doable? Who knows. The Marlins have been around for a quarter-century now and they've yet to have sustained success despite winning two World Series championships. Heck, the Marlins have never even won an NL East division title. Both postseason appearances came as a wild-card team.
Things did not have to be this way for the Marlins. According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, other prospective Marlins owners were planning to raise the team's payroll next year, or at least hold payroll steady. From Jackson:
Miami businessman Jorge Mas conveyed to me this month that if his Marlins offer had been accepted, he would have had a $130 million payroll in 2018, retained Giancarlo Stanton and hired a new general manager.
Instead, the Marlins intend to have a payroll of $90 million or less – a drop from $115 million last season and much lower than the $140 million it would have taken to keep the 2017 team together.
Mas bid slightly more than $1 billion for the team, less than the Bruce Sherman/Derek Jeter $1.2 billion bid.
Wayne Rothbaum, another prospective owner whose bid fell short, "hadn't planned to slash payroll in 2018 and was prepared to absorb substantial losses initially," according to Jackson. Rothbaum would have instead cut executive salaries, which were among the highest in baseball under former owner Jeffrey Loria.
Now, when you miss out on the team like Mas and Rothbaum did, it's very easy to say you would've done things much differently (and much better) than the guy who purchased the team. The Marlins' debt problems are very real. It's easy for Mas to say he would've raised payroll despite that debt after the fact. He doesn't have to put his money where his mouth is now.
Keep in mind the Marlins averaged 4.80 runs scored per game in 2017, 5th highest in the NL and 11th highest in MLB, so they had a strong offense. Pitching was the problem. They allowed 5.07 runs per game, 3rd highest in the NL and 6th highest in MLB. Had they kept the Stanton-Yelich-Ozuna offensive core intact and invested in some pitching this offseason, the Marlins could have contended for postseason spot in 2018. Instead, the Sherman/Jeter group will rebuild the franchise from the ground up.