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Miami Marlins Owner Defends Blockbuster Trade

Jeffrey Loria, Miami Marlins owner, defended the pending blockbuster trade Wednesday that would send shortstop Jose Reyes, pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, catcher John Buck and infielder-outfielder Emilio Bonifacio to the Toronto Blue Jays for your prospects.

Loria was asked Wednesday during the winter meetings in Chicago why he dismantled most of the talent on the team after a short period of time.

“We finished in last place. Figure it out,” he told CBSSports.com in aggravation.

Loria went on to tell the website that trading the veterans was the right decision after finishing 69-93 for the season.

“We have to get better,” Loria added. “We can’t finish in last place. We finished in last place. That’s unacceptable. We have to take a new course.”

Loria hopes that he can production out the players that he will receive from the Blue Jays: shortstop Yunel Escobar, right-hander Henderson Alvarez, catcher Jeff Mathis and prospects Jake Marisnick (OF), Adeiny Hechavarria (SS), Justin Nicolino (LHP) and Anthony DeSclafani (RHP) to the Marlins, according to ESPN.

The trade will potentially save Loria and the Marlins approximately $150 million, if the players pass their physicals, which does not sit well with South Floridians who just paid for the new ballpark.

“Everybody in the world wants to talk about the Marlins and the fact that they’re now a Triple-A team,” city commissioner Marc Sarnoff said, who was against the building of the new stadium. “The Marlins have lost pretty much all credibility with fans. Even if this trade is a positive move from the baseball standpoint, it won’t be viewed by the general public as a positive move.”

Reyes and Buehrle were signed to massive contracts in free agency last season to draw attendance to the new stadium. The attendance barley topped 2.2 million after being projected to draw almost 3 million fans.

Former Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen may have contributed to the low attendance. In April, Guillen praised former Cuba leader Fidel Castro, which ignited backlash from Cuban residents and members in Miami’s Little Havana community. The attendance was unable to recover after Guillen’s remarks.

While the projections were off by the Marlins management, they have potentially unloaded a total of $163.75 million in guaranteed salaries through 2018, which includes the $96 million due to Reyes.

The salaries for 2013 include $11 million for Buehrle, $10 million for Reyes and $13.75 million for Johnson in the final year of his contract. Approximately $154 million of guaranteed salaries are coming off the Marlins’ books, which does not include cash that may be involved in the trade.

When the Marlins begin opening day, their payroll is estimated to be $34 million, which would be their lowest since 2008. The Marlins reached an agreement three years ago with the players’ union to increase spending due to complaints team payroll was small and violated baseball’s revenue-sharing provisions. The Oakland Athletics had the lowest payroll last year with $53 million.

Some have wondered if Loria trading the best players is an early sign in attempts to sell the team. Loria denies those notions.

“Absolutely not,” Loria said, according to CBSSports.com. “That’s more stupidity.”

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