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Payroll could prompt changes in Marlins roster


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Payroll could prompt changes in Marlins roster

 

By Mike Berardino

Staff writer

Posted July 21 2005

 

 

If the Marlins are to hold their franchise-record payroll in check for next season, A.J. Burnett likely won't be the last familiar name out the door.

 

According to industry estimates, the Marlins would need to cut about $20 million in player payroll between now and next spring to remain in the $65 million range next season.

 

Should owner Jeffrey Loria opt to cut payroll, more tough decisions would be required.

 

Dumping Burnett would save about $8 million next year. Dealing third baseman Mike Lowell could lop as much as another $21 million off the books through 2007, including $9 million next season.

 

Depending on what players those trades would bring in return, the Marlins wouldn't be far from their possible target figure.

 

However, Burnett is one of 13 potential free agents on the Marlins. Others include shortstop Alex Gonzalez, outfielders Juan Encarnacion and Jeff Conine, relievers Todd Jones and Jim Mecir and starters Brian Moehler and Ismael Valdez.

 

While Mecir plans to retire and the Marlins could save another $8.5 million or so by letting Encarnacion, Conine and Valdez leave, the others in the aforementioned group would seem to be offseason priorities.

 

Unfortunately for the Marlins' chances of retaining Gonzalez, his agents are likely to use as a guidepost the five-year, $40 million contract fellow shortstop Jimmy Rollins received from the Phillies this summer.

 

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen remains a huge fan of Gonzalez, with whom he worked as Marlins third-base coach in 2002-03. That's one reason the Marlins have told people they expect Gonzalez to sign with the White Sox this winter.

 

Double-A prospect Robert Andino or Triple-A shortstop Josh Wilson could be asked to step in and replace Gonzalez at the minimum salary. The Marlins might also choose to sign a low-cost veteran as a one-year stopgap.

 

Resurgent right-handers Jones and Moehler could be looking at significant raises after re-establishing themselves this season.

 

In addition, 13-game winner Dontrelle Willis leads a class of six Marlins expected to qualify for salary arbitration. Moving Lowell would free more cash to sign Willis to a multiyear extension, but in the short term the iconic lefty is looking at as much as a 10-fold increase on his $378,000 salary.

 

Others who could be headed to the arbitration table include former World Series MVP Josh Beckett, leadoff man Juan Pierre and setup reliever Guillermo Mota. That quartet will receive just over $9 million this year but could see its combined haul soar to more than $16 million in 2006.

 

Two more arbitration qualifiers could come from Baltimore in a trade for Burnett. If Lowell goes in the deal, outfielder Admin Bigbie would take over the bulk of the left field duties, with Miguel Cabrera returning to his natural spot at third base.

 

Bigbie, 27, would be another first-time arbitration qualifier whose $380,000 salary could climb into the $1.2 million range.

 

Orioles reliever Jorge Julio, another key cog in the Burnett talks, is making $2.5 million this year and could see that figure rise to about $3.5 million via arbitration.

 

Also in line for large raises in 2006 are catcher Paul Lo Duca ($6.72 million) and first baseman Carlos Delgado ($13.5 million). They are making a combined $8.6 million this year in the first year of backloaded contracts.

 

Some good news for the Marlins is that Braves left-hander Mike Hampton finally comes off the books after three years and $23.5 million of net deferrals. Also, the Marlins will pay out the final $2 million owed to catcher Pudge Rodriguez for his play during the World Series-title year of 2003.

 

The emergence of rookie left-handers Scott Olsen and Jason Vargas also gives the Marlins two low-cost options for their starting rotation. Top prospect Jeremy Hermida, currently at Double-A, figures to be the Opening Day right fielder.

 

The Marlins also will have Cabrera at a bargain rate for one more year. He figures to make about $400,000 next year before heading to arbitration for the first time the following winter.

 

Neither Willis nor Cabrera can become a free agent until after the 2009 season.

 

Mike Berardino can be reached at mberardino@sun-sentinel.com.

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Last night during Jack's pregame interview with Miniverni,when asked about the rumors of his firing, he referred to the media as "spurned lovers" who have to write something.

 

When he said that I immediately thought of Mike Berardino who the Marlins left at the alter when Torborg was fired and the Herald got the story, cutting him out of the loop.

 

Berardino has constructed his scenario such that things look much worse than they are.

 

For example, it's been assumed both Encarnacion and Conine were in their last seasons with the Fish since spring training and before. Most people expected Enc to be gone by now (a big mea *culpa* is due soon on this one all you haters out there).

 

Mike also ignores what is going on with club right now as we see the emergence of Olsen and Vargas, or the expected roles Willingham and more importantly Hermida are (and have been) expected to play in 2006 and beyond.

 

And while he alludes to no longer paying Hampton, he does put a price tag on it, which is if I remember, $13.50 million.

 

You can prove any argument if you only argue one side of the question.

 

I would say shame on you Mike, but at this point, like a spurned lover, could you really expect anything else?

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2003,

 

"mea cupla" ???

 

Guess I was absent that day in school.

868626[/snapback]

 

 

mea culpa

 

(MAY-uh KUL-puh, KOOL-puh) An expresssion from Catholic ritual that assigns blame to oneself: ?I gave you the wrong directions to my house?mea culpa.? From Latin, meaning ?my fault? or ?my blame.?

 

:whistle

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I do not..DO NOT..want Rafael Furcal on this team. He is overrated defensively(very very overrated actually), and even in this year, his contract year, he is not hitting all that well.

868515[/snapback]

 

I don't think Furcal is overratted defensively. Regardless of his fielding position. The guy's got range, speed, and a canon. But thats just my opinion.

 

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen remains a huge fan of Gonzalez, with whom he worked as Marlins third-base coach in 2002-03. That's one reason the Marlins have told people they expect Gonzalez to sign with the White Sox this winter.

 

That sucks, maybe we can sign Uribe? I think that Gonzo will be one of the more persuide FA's by the Marlins. He is a team favorite and a manager favorite. Another sign of greed going over loyalty. Oh yeah Alex, the Sox fans are just like Marlins fans, arond 25-30k average.

 

Ok, Conine will probably end his career as a Marlin. I think he would be stupid not to. But who knows these days. Enc is definetely gone. He's your typical "Its my FA year so I'm going to make sure that I hit the crap out of the ball so I get my payday" player.

 

If Josh Beckett even TRIES to negotiate a high arbitration amount he needs to be kicked in the balls. The guy is so inconsistent and hasn't realy done a damn thing since October 2003 besides sitting on the DL. He wants money? The Marlins should let him go. Josh is a great talent and has great stuff and has the potential of being a great starter in this league. But he hasn't shown that on a consistent basis yet so he doesn't deserve that much more money. Willis and pierre should be easy to negotiate. And when cabrera's time comes up he should be pretty easy to negotiate w/. We'll see though.

 

I think its a good article by Mike. It is something I've been thinking about for a while. I knew that Delgado's contract is going to ballon next year but I didn't know about the arbitration and Lo Duca. We all know that with baseball it is almost impossible to fall in love with teams' players because every year they change. Especially if you are a fan of a small market team like the Marlins.

 

As long as baseball continues to ignore the obvious benifits of a salary cap I feel free agency will continue to ruin small market teams. The fact that we even got a player like Delgado (who won't be staying here much longer becaues of the $$ he makes IMO) is incredible. Our strength for the past 2-3 seasons has been young cheap pitching talent. But we can only ride that wave for so long and it seems like its about to crash on us in the next couple of years. We are one of the few remaining teams that thrives off of their farm system. How many teams out there can just call up 2 rookie AA pitchers to start games and not even skip a beat? That shows that the Marlins scouting department is incredible and their minor league coaches have to be some of the best. And it also has to be noted that the Marlins do not use their minor leaguers as trade bait as many other ball clubs (another characteristic of a smart small market team). If you look at all the small market teams in the majors (diamondbacks, devil rays, rockies are the only ones i can think of) the marlins are the best managed because of their creative use of minor leaguers.

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2003,

 

"mea cupla" ???

 

Guess I was absent that day in school.

868626[/snapback]

 

 

mea culpa

 

(MAY-uh KUL-puh, KOOL-puh) An expresssion from Catholic ritual that assigns blame to oneself: ?I gave you the wrong directions to my house?mea culpa.? From Latin, meaning ?my fault? or ?my blame.?

 

:whistle

868651[/snapback]

 

Please excuse the ocassional typo, I was running out to a real estate closing...

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Guest Juanky

This is why this town continues to be a lackluster baseball town. We just won two in a row, so out comes an article about payroll considerations? Does the media have absolutely anything better to do?

 

I refuse to even dignify this garbage with my time reading it.

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This is why this town continues to be a lackluster baseball town. We just won two in a row, so out comes an article about payroll considerations? Does the media have absolutely anything better to do?

 

I refuse to even dignify this garbage with my time reading it.

868817[/snapback]

 

I think you answered your own question. :thumbup

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