Selig OKs Marlins-Toronto MLB Trade, Sympathizes With Miami Fans

Jose Reyes no longer will be playing for a division rival of the New York Mets. Instead, he’ll be at shortstop for a division rival of the New York Yankees.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig yesterday approved a 12-player trade in which the Miami Marlins sent Reyes and three other All-Stars to the Toronto Blue Jays for prospects and financial relief.

The deal drew anger from both fans and remaining players in Miami, while allowing the Marlins to dump what MLB.com said was $165 million in salary. The trade was held up until it got approval from Selig, who said he understood the public reaction.

“Going forward, I will continue to monitor this situation with the expectation that the Marlins will take into account the sentiments of their fans, who deserve the best efforts and considered judgment of their club,” he said.

Selig said in an e-mailed statement that he consulted with his baseball operations and labor relations departments before concluding that the deal “does not violate any express rule of Major League Baseball.”

“After a thorough examination of this information, it is my conclusion that this transaction, involving established major leaguers and highly regarded young players and prospects, represents the exercise of plausible baseball judgment on the part of both clubs,” Selig said.

The Marlins agreed to move Reyes and pitcher Mark Buehrle, both acquired during last year’s offseason, in addition to pitcher Josh Johnson, catcher John Buck and outfielder Emilio Bonifacio. Reyes, Buehrle, Johnson and Buck all have been All- Stars. In return, the team will receive shortstops Yunel Escobar and Adeiny Hechavarria, pitcher Henderson Alvarez, catcher Jeff Mathis and three other prospects.

Reyes’s Moves

Reyes, 29, left the Mets before last season to sign as a free agent with the Marlins. Both teams are in the National League East. Now he’ll be playing in the American League East, home to the Blue Jays and Yankees.

The Marlins moved this past season into a $515 million, retractable-roof ballpark that was 80 percent publicly financed, and raised their payroll to $118 million -- seventh among baseball’s 30 teams -- from a 24th-place $60 million in 2011, according to USA Today.

The team traded three-time All-Star Hanley Ramirez during the season and finished 69-93, last in the five-team NL East. This is the third time in the team’s 20-year history that it has shed financial obligations and All-Star talent, after similar moves following the 1997 and 2003 seasons that produced World Series championships.

Long-Term Assurances

“We’ve finished in last place the past two years, and that is unacceptable to our fans, to us as an organization, and to me,” owner Jeffrey Loria said in a news release. “We want to get back to our winning ways, and we want a winning baseball team for our fans. It’s incumbent on us to make the changes necessary to make us a winner again.”

Selig said he has received assurances from Marlins ownership that it remains dedicated to building a long-term winning team in Miami.

“Baseball is a social institution with important social responsibilities and I fully understand that the Miami community has done its part to put the Marlins into a position to succeed with beautiful new Marlins Park,” the commissioner said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eben Novy-Williams in New York at enovywilliam@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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