ROSEMONT, Ill. — Two days after the Miami Marlins shocked their fans and the baseball world by announcing a trade that purged their roster of large salaries and much of its talent, Bud Selig, the baseball commissioner, weighed in.
“I want to think about all of it, and I want to review everything," Selig said. “I want to be my usual painstaking, cautious, slow, conservative self in analyzing it. There’s a lot of variables here."
Speaking after two days of meetings with owners at a hotel near O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Selig said the trade that would send Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and others to Toronto for role players and a handful of prospects had not yet been officially presented to him, but that he, indeed, was considering it.
The trade comes just a year after the publicly financed $515 million Marlins Stadium opened in Little Havana, and there has been an outcry in Miami that the city’s financial commitment has not been reciprocated by the team.
Despite the upheaval, Selig gave no indication that he had any plans to block the trade, saying there was no such precedent. He also made an effort to defend the deal. Selig said he talked to two independent baseball people who thought the Marlins did “very well" with the prospects they received from the Blue Jays.
“Clubs have to make their own decisions, and that’s not up to the commissioner," Selig said.
Still, a sense of betrayal exists in Miami after the Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria promised a new way forward for the team with a new stadium, new uniforms and a new name last year. He delivered on it by spending $106 million on Reyes last winter and millions more on the free agents Buehrle and reliever Heath Bell, who was traded last month. With the latest deal, the Marlins have continued their salary dump, and are likely to return to their days of minuscule payrolls.
“I am aware of the anger, I am," Selig said. “The questions are fair about the Marlins fans. I want you to know that. It’s a subject that I’m extremely sensitive about."
He added, “I am very protective of this sport."
Other small-market owners were reluctant to say where they stood on the trade. Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio said: “Every team makes their own decision on how they handle things. They’re choosing to retool."
Stuart Sternberg, whose Tampa Bay Rays have helped upend the conventional wisdom that small-market teams with small payrolls cannot compete, spoke of the plight facing his team and the Marlins.
“You can’t sustain success as a small-market team," he said. “You do the best you can."