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Defiant Marlins owner Loria rebuffs talk of fire sale

The SportsXchange

Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria doesn't care if he's taking heat for the huge 12-player deal between his team and the Toronto Blue Jays.

"We finished in last place. Figure it out," Loria told CBSSports.com on Wednesday as he headed for the Major League Baseball owners meetings in Chicago.

Loria was both defiant and almost confrontational in his brief exchange with the media. Another question that drew his ire was whether Tuesday night's trade was a precursor of him possibly selling the Marlins.

To that, Loria chirped, "Absolutely not. That's more stupidity."

Some observers, particularly in the media, believe Tuesday's trade was the key component of a virtual fire sale, something that Loria scoffed at.

Having opened a publicly funded ballpark prior to the ill-fated 2012 season -- and then undergoing a terrible 69-93 campaign that saw the Marlins draw far fewer fans than expected to their new state-of-the-art complex -- and already having jettisoned manager Ozzie Guillen after just one season, Loria essentially implied that desperate times of a desperate ballclub means taking desperate actions like the dozen-player deal.

"We have to get better," Loria said. "We can't finish in last place. We finished in last place. That's unacceptable. We have to take a new course."

And that new course apparently includes ridding the team of highly paid players in hopes that younger -- and cheaper -- players can build a better foundation for the Marlins' future.

For example, by sending Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle to the Blue Jays, Loria unloaded a reported $166 million in total salaries. If you add in the prior departure of $20 million man Heath Bell, the Marlins have jettisoned nearly $190 million in salaries, just over $10 million less than the big free agent spending spree Loria went on prior to last season.

Loria rebuked the suggestion that the trade was a salary dump, not answering the question directly, but saying instead, "Wonderful guy. I love Jose Reyes. What's not to love?"

Furthermore, if you include the $50 million in salary to infielders Hanley Ramirez and Omar Infante, who were traded at midseason, Loria has dumped over $235 million in salaries since July.

Before the deal is completed, the Blue Jays are requiring all of the former Marlins players -- including the three high-priced stars -- to undergo physicals. Johnson reportedly headed to Toronto on Wednesday for his physical, according to CBSSports.com.

According to USA Today, the trade drew immediate scorn from the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton, who gave his reaction via Twitter: "Alright, I'm pissed off!!! Plain & Simple."

In addition to Reyes, Buehrle and Johnson, the Blue Jays also received infielder Emilio Bonifacio and catcher John Buck, along with a reported $4 million in cash.

In return, the Blue Jays sent seven players south of the border: shortstop Yunel Escobar, starter Henderson Alvarez, infielder Adeiny Hechavarria, catcher Jeff Mathis, minor league pitchers Justin Nicolino and Anthony Desclafani and minor league outfielder Jake Marisnick.
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