The Florida Marlins continue illustrating why Major League Baseball will eventually need to implement a salary floor.
The Fish reportedly have agreed to trade up-and-coming starter Scott Olsen and veteran outfielder Josh Willingham to the Washington Nationals for utility man Emilio Bonifacio and two minor leaguers, according to sportingnews.com.
Owner Jeffrey Loria has reportedly authorized a payroll of $40 million for the first time since 2005. But while the Marlins have reportedly made plans to increase their salaries this season, they’d already traded arbitration-eligible first baseman Mike Jacobs to Kansas City for a middle reliever. And acquiring Bonifacio makes it possible that also arbitration-eligible second baseman Dan Uggla could be on the block as well.
The Marlins were surprisingly competitive, winning 84 games in 2008. So imagine what this team could have done with a payroll above $22 million. I could see why the team would want to keep its salaries criminally low given a poor stadium situation and the occasional lack of fan-dom. BUT THE MARLINS RECEIVED $25 MILLION IN REVENUE SHARING FROM THE LEAGUE’S LARGE MARKET TEAMS!!!
In my mind, the Marlins’ ongoing salary dump is just as big a disgrace to Major League Baseball as the New York Yankees constant efforts earlier in the decade to buy their way into the playoffs every year with salaries exceeding $200 million. Revenue sharing was not meant to line the pockets of ownership.
Jeff Loria has been playing these games since revenue sharing began. Regardless of whether or not he trades Uggla and continues the cuts and regardless of where the Marlins’ payroll ends up at the beginning of the 2009 season, his ongoing youth movements are a sham.
It’s not a sham as well publicized as that being pulled by the teams on the other end of the salary spectrum. But it’s a sham nonetheless. And it’s one more problem Major League Baseball and Commissioner Bud Selig are going to have to address if this sport is going to build and retain any credibility with its fans.
EDIT: As expected, the fans are not happy, both with the continued trading of young, up-and-coming players or with the return garnered in this deal.