2/25/2013 10:39 P.M. ET
Loria says bold moves were financial necessity
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
MIAMI -- Speaking publicly on Monday night for the first time since the season ended, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria candidly discussed the large turnover of the club's roster since Opening Day 2012.
"Last year, we had a payroll of close to $100 million," said Loria, addressing selected media members in the Diamond Club at Marlins Park. "We lost tens of millions of dollars last year. We had to turn back the clock for the moment. Push the restart button and get these young players in here, and put them together and look at where we are in another year or so."
Before their inaugural season at Marlins Park, the Marlins projected selling 2.4 million tickets. The club had announced 2.2 million tickets sold, but team president David Samson said the actual number was closer to 1.4 million in the retractable-roof building that holds 37,000.
More revenue was anticipated, especially after the splashy free-agent signings of Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell and the hiring of marquee manager Ozzie Guillen. The multiyear contracts of the quartet added up to $201 million.
All four have since been traded or dismissed.
Instead of reaching the playoffs, as hoped, the Marlins went 69-93, marking their second straight last-place finish.
"We really thought it was a very small probability that the off-the-field results of last year would be what they were," Samson said. "We didn't even contemplate it in our worst-case scenario that our revenues would be what they were last year. We miscalculated what walkups would be. We were wrong."
The Marlins were anticipating about 17,000 season tickets sold a year ago, and actually had just above 12,000. Samson expects fewer than 5,000 season-ticket packages to be sold for 2013.
Under the Marlins' current local TV deal, Loria said the team cannot handle a payroll reaching $100 million again.
"It's going to be a function of the revenues that we have," Loria said. "We've built this ballpark because we thought there would be a number of fans coming here down the road. I understand that they are disappointed. That's a natural reaction.
"We are never going to get to $100 million. We don't have the TV contract to do that. We will one day, hopefully."
For the next few years, the Marlins plan on building around a young roster, which features some of the top prospects in the game. Christian Yelich and Jose Fernandez are emerging talents, but both are expected to start the season at Double-A Jacksonville.
Mike Redmond, a former Marlins catcher, has taken over as manager of the youthful squad.
Because 2012 didn't turn out as planned, the organization felt major changes were needed. Now, the club is looking for a fresh start, in hopes of building a contender with young talent.
Loria said he understands the reaction from the fans, and he hopes they give the revised roster a chance to prove itself.
"I'm sorry that we've built this amazing ballpark, and fans are feeling the way they do," he said. "But we did this for a reason. We weren't going anywhere. I think anybody who is a baseball guy, or a baseball person, will realize that after two years that we had to do something. We had to do something quickly, swiftly and bold. I'd like to turn the clock ahead two years from now and look back at what we did."
Loria discusses Reyes' 'house' comment
MIAMI -- Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria said Monday that Jose Reyes was not told to purchase a house in Miami just days before he was traded to Toronto on Nov. 19, contrary to comments made by the former Marlins shortstop at Blue Jays Spring Training on Feb. 15.
Since the trade, both Reyes and starting pitcher Mark Buehrle have said they were led to believe they wouldn't be moved. Both were traded less than a year after signing a multiyear contract.
"Buehrle is a very interesting guy," Loria said. "He's in his mid-30s. ... In this business, you have to look ahead. You have to look, two, three, four, five years down the road. You make a team four years from now, and Buehrle doesn't fit in. He's at the end of his career, earning $17-18 million. Frankly, that doesn't work down here for us, because there are other players we're going to want to keep, we're going to want to sign. And we have good, young pitching. We have good young pitching."
When Reyes reported to Blue Jays camp, his comments created further speculation on how his trade was handled.
"Jeffrey Loria always told me he's never going to trade me," Reyes said during an on-camera media session on Feb. 15. "He always called my agent and told him, 'Tell Jose to get a good place here to live,' and stuff like that.
"Before he traded me, four days before the trade, I was with him at dinner in New York. I went to vacation with my wife, and two days later I find out I was traded. I thought people were joking about it. I called my agent and he said, 'Yes.' It surprised me a little bit, but it's time to move on."
On Monday, Loria looked to clarify what happened.
Shortly before the trade with Toronto, Miami president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest gave Loria a briefing, saying the deal was close.
Loria then called up Reyes' agent, Peter Greenberg, to fill him in.
"Let me set the record straight," Loria said. "What you've been told is inaccurate. It was inaccurate. I never told him to buy a house. He was looking for a house. He came to an ALS dinner that I invited him to. He sat two people away from me.
"Larry came to me with the trade that he wanted to do. I immediately called Jose's agent, out of respect, and said, 'Jose is going to be traded.' I want you to call him before he reads about it. He hasn't bought a house, has he? No, he's contemplating. So, I said, just call him and let him know."
Stanton is central to Loria's vision for Marlins
MIAMI -- Jeffrey Loria envisions a long tenure in Miami for outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, but the Marlins owner doesn't think the timing is right to discuss a multiyear deal.
"I don't think this is the year to go to Giancarlo with an offer," Loria said on Monday night. "We have to let him play it out. Let him feel more comfortable. We have the right guy in here to manage the team. Mike Redmond is part of our success here."
The 23-year-old All-Star, who is a year away from being arbitration-eligible but won't have the necessary service time to become a free agent until after the 2016 season, expressed his displeasure over the Nov. 19 trade with the Blue Jays that sent Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck to Toronto.
Loria understood Stanton's frustration, watching popular teammates being traded, but he said the young slugger isn't going anywhere.
"He will be here this year, and I'm hopeful that he will be here the next year. And when we have an opportunity to talk to him, we will cross that bridge. We will cross that bridge," said Loria, who, along with wife Julie, dined with Stanton at the Eiffel Tower when their offseason vacations crossed paths in France. "I love Giancarlo. He's a great young talent. I wish him nothing but the best. I have nothing but fond admiration for him. Not any negative feelings. He's a young man.
"If you really look at it, you go to your workplace, and you're used to seeing all your fellow employees around you," Loria said. "And suddenly, three or four guys are gone. It's a little bit disturbing. I understand that. But I'm going to wish him a great season."
In terms of signing any player to a multiyear contract, team president David Samson noted that two sides have to be agreeable.
"The Stanton issue, to me, is separate," Samson said. "It takes two people to sign a long-term deal. I don't believe our chances are any greater or less because of this offseason. This offseason has not changed our chances of signing Giancarlo. Not even by 1 percent."