Bud Selig was on hand when the Miami Marlins played their first regular-season game in their swanky new ballpark in April. The commissioner provided a glowing review of the $634 million US project and boldly declared that opposition to the facility would fade away within five years.
So far, it's not looking so good for that last prediction.
Selig said Thursday he is examining the pending blockbuster trade that sends at least three of Miami's best players to Toronto for a package of prospects just seven months after the Marlins moved into their new home, which was financed primarily with tax money.
Speaking at the conclusion of the owners' meetings in Rosemont, Ill., Selig said he also is aware of fan anger in South Florida but is going to do what's in the best interests of the sport.
"People have different views of that as to what you should do and how you should do it, but I think I've been able to come through all these situations and the sport's been stronger and better as a result," he said, pointing to his recent experience with the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers going through bankruptcy proceedings.
"So when I say I have this matter under review and I've talked to a lot of our people and I've spent a lot of time here in between all the other meetings — this is a tough place to do it — that's exactly what I mean. It is under review. I am aware of the anger, I am. I'm also aware that in Toronto they're very happy."
News and Notes
- Owners approved new television deals with ESPN, Turner Sports and Fox worth about $12.4 billion from 2014-21, according to Selig.
- Joe Torre, MLB's executive vice-president for baseball operations, said the league still is looking into expanded use of instant replay. "Whether we do something for next season or not, I think by the time we start next season I'm confident we'll have a plan," he said.
There was no update on the situation in Northern California, where Oakland wants to build a ballpark in San Jose — an area that is part of the San Francisco Giants' territory.
Selig is planning to travel to next month's winter meetings to speak to team doctors and trainers about drug testing, and he reiterated his support for baseball's drug program and its penalties.
The Blue Jays, who finished fourth in the loaded American League East last season, are bringing in all-star shortstop Jose Reyes, left-hander Mark Buehrle and right-hander Josh Johnson under the deal, which is contingent on physicals for the players. Selig also said there is money going from Miami to Toronto, but did not offer any details and said the trade hadn't been officially presented to his office yet.
Reyes and Buehrle signed lucrative free-agent contracts with the Marlins last off-season, and Johnson has been Miami's best pitcher when healthy.
The Marlins get infielders Yunel Escobar and Adeiny Hechavarria, right-hander Henderson Alvarez and several top prospects, a nice haul but certainly not enough to satisfy a fan base that went through similar rebuilding after the franchise won the World Series in 1997 and 2003.
"I've talked to two baseball people — I have a lot of people that I check with and talk to — who have, actually, an interesting view on the trade." Selig said at airport hotel just outside of Chicago. "They think that [Miami], in terms of young players, did very well. These are two independent baseball people. These are not chefs in these kitchens here.
"So I want to think about all of it and I want to review everything. I want to be my usual painstaking, cautious, slow, conservative self in analyzing it. … There's a lot of variables here."
Paul Beeston, the president and CEO of the Blue Jays, rushed by a group of reporters as he left the owners' meetings. Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria was seen in the lobby at the hotel but did not make himself available to media.
Loria went on a spending spree last off-season, also signing free-agent closer Heath Bell. The Marlins thought they would contend for the National League East title and draw three million fans in the first year of their ballpark.
But they flopped, finishing last in the division. Bell was traded to Arizona in October, with the Marlins agreeing to pay $8 million of the remaining $21 million owed to the reliever.
Asked Thursday if it's in the best interests of baseball for Loria to continue to own a franchise, Selig said he wasn't going to comment any further other than saying the trade is under review.
"I know what the commissioner can do, can't do, what his legal responsibilities are," he said. "I understand the feeling and in the end I'll do what I've done in the other past situations. People always ask me, 'Boy, don't you wish it didn't happen?' Well, there are a lot of situations I wish hadn't happened, but they have, and then I have to try to do what I have to do."