With the way things are going during Derek Jeter’s honeymoon period as the new Marlins owner, he may want to wear a disguise at Marlins Park once the 2018 baseball season starts.
After the team completed its most recent trade of another star player – dealing center fielder Christian Yelich to the Brewers Thursday – the Players Association has communicated with commissioner Rob Manfred’s office that the Marlins’ and Pirates’ continuing winter fire sale business strategy is a concern.
“We have raised our concerns regarding both Miami and Pittsburgh with the Commissioner, as is the protocol under the collective bargaining agreement and its Revenue Sharing provisions. We are waiting to have further dialogue and that will dictate our next steps,” Greg Bouris, a union spokesman, said in a statement to the Daily News.
Yelich is the latest bold-face player to be dealt by the Marlins. The team already traded Marcell Ozuna to the Cardinals, Dee Gordon to Seattle and 2017 National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees. Jeter, the former Yankee captain, and businessman Bruce Sherman became the South Florida baseball team’s new owners in September after the other MLB owners approved the sale.
But in an effort to slash the team’s payroll, Jeter, the team’s new chief executive officer, has already raised red flags with the union over the revenue sharing issue. In the Basic Agreement, which is collectively bargained between baseball and the Players Association, small market teams like the Marlins receive a larger portion of the overall revenue generated by teams in their local markets, as well as a portion of the revenue from national broadcasting deals. By sharing the wealth, the theory is that a competitive balance will play out among the 30 teams.
One sports attorney, however, said that even if Jeter and Sherman came in with ideas to reduce the club’s revenue-sharing dependence, shedding all of your stars in one winter might send the wrong message to not only the union and MLB, but a fan base that has already been frustrated for years by the product Loria would put on the field.
“The Marlins have consistently been the biggest recipient of revenue sharing,” said the attorney. “You’re supposed to use revenue-sharing money to put into your minor league system, or into your scouting and player development or into payroll. And now (Jeter and Sherman) are doing this. Like other teams have done in the past, they’re trying to build for the future.”
According to the Miami Herald, Jeter is giving himself a $5 million annual salary, and million-dollar annual bonuses if the team makes a profit.
In 2010, when Jeffrey Loria still owned the Marlins, the club came under fire from the union and baseball for similar issues, and Loria agreed to spend more on payroll. The late Players Association executive director Michael Weiner acknowledged then that the Marlins would abandon their stingy ways.
“In response to our concerns that revenue sharing proceeds have not been used as required, the Marlins have assured the union and the commissioner’s office that they plan to use such proceeds to increase player payroll annually as they move toward the opening of their new ballpark,” Weiner said in 2010.
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MLB did not return calls from the Daily News, and a Marlins spokesman declined comment.
The Marlins haven’t reached the playoffs since 2003, when they won the World Series against the Yankees, and although they finished in second place in the NL East last year, 2018 looks to be another season in which the Marlins won’t be contending for a postseason spot.
“Houston did it this way for years, and look where they are now,” said the attorney, referring to the reigning World Series champions.