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The Miami Marlins let go of a longtime scout in need of a kidney transplant as he lay in the hospital days after undergoing colon cancer surgery, the latest in a series of questionable decisions made by the organization under the stewardship of newly installed CEO Derek Jeter.
Marty Scott, who joined the Marlins as a vice president in 2011 and in recent years had worked as a scout, said he was told his contract would not be renewed Oct. 16 while at the Cleveland Clinic in Weston, Florida, where doctors three days earlier had removed a cancerous tumor and polyps from his colon. Doctors initially found the cancer in late August as Scott underwent a battery of tests in preparation for a kidney transplant needed because of diabetes.
Over a four-decade career in the game, the 64-year-old Scott had worked as a scout, farm director and manager, among other jobs. He hoped to return to the Marlins under the management of Jeter, the former New York Yankees star who in his first two months as CEO offered reduced roles to four popular front-office figures, fired multiple top baseball-operations officials, dangled reigning National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton on the trade market, vowed to slash the team’s payroll and solicited money from outside investors to stabilize the Marlins’ finances.
“Derek Jeter doesn’t owe me anything,” Scott told Yahoo Sports. “Probably in their hearts they did what they thought was right. I know based on certain aspects of the game, I probably was making too much money. But we all love the game. We’re all in it together. I just think 40 years was worth more than a spank on the butt and see you later.
“I’m very hurt. Forty years in baseball, I let a lot of people go. I never, ever fired somebody 10 days, 15 days before their contract was up. If I knew I was going to fire somebody, I did it at the beginning of September.”
Through a team spokesman, the Marlins said not renewing Scott’s contract, which expired Oct. 31, was a baseball-operations decision overseen by president Michael Hill. While Scott said he received a call from pro scouting director Jim Cuthbert informing him of the decision, the spokesman said Scott sought clarification on his status from Cuthbert and then was told he would not be renewed. Three others in similar positions were also let go around the same time, the spokesman said. The team declined further comment.
Though Jeter’s ownership group did not take control of the Marlins until Sept. 27, it had agreed to buy the team for nearly $1.2 billion in mid-August and spent the next six weeks considering how it wanted to reshape the organization. One of the first publicly revealed moves was not renewing the contracts of Hall of Famers Andre Dawson and Tony Perez, former longtime manager Jack McKeon and Jeff Conine, nicknamed Mr. Marlin. Each had served as a special assistant and team ambassador, and Jeter drew significant criticism for asking outgoing team president David Samson to let them go.
Optics have been an issue for the Marlins, who are engaged in talks with the San Francisco Giants, among other teams, to deal Stanton, who hit 59 home runs this past season and would need to waive his no-trade clause. If they cannot strike a deal for Stanton, they are expected to dismantle other pieces of their roster to shrink their payroll as they seek a quarter-billion dollars in outside capital, according to FanRag Sports.
Following the acceptance of the bid, led by majority investor Bruce Sherman, multiple officials in the Marlins’ front office urged outgoing owner Jeffrey Loria to either address employees with expiring contracts or ask Jeter to do so, sources familiar with the discussions told Yahoo Sports. Scott sat in limbo for more than two months. Contrary to the team’s accounting of the story, he said he spoke with Cuthbert about a week before his surgery, curious about his status. On Oct. 16, he said, his phone rang and he saw Cuthbert’s name on the caller ID.
“My heart sank a little bit,” Scott said. “At the same time, I thought, ‘They’re not going to do this while I’m in the hospital.’”
He said Cuthbert was apologetic. Scott said he had hoped to speak with someone in upper management but never heard from Jeter or Hill.
“I didn’t want to get upset, get my blood pressure up,” Scott said. “I was lying in a hospital bed and couldn’t move.”
One day later, Scott was discharged from the hospital. Two days after that, he returned to a different hospital with a urinary tract infection. Doctors started him on dialysis, in hopes of protecting his kidney, and in the middle of a session, he lost consciousness.
“Next thing I realize,” Scott said, “I’m in the ICU, and they’re asking, ‘Mr. Scott, Mr. Scott, are you all right?’ ”
Scott said he needed daily three-hour physical therapy sessions for weeks to return to health. During that time, he said, his Marlins-issued cell phone was shut off, which complicated extending his health insurance through COBRA. Eventually, he was able to secure the insurance, and as long as a follow-up appointment for the cancer surgery goes well this Monday, Scott said he hopes to schedule his kidney-transplant surgery in January.
Once he heals, Scott said, he plans on returning to baseball. Friends have reached out, offering him opportunities and telling him they couldn’t believe how the Marlins handled his situation – that waiting on an expiring contract was bad business but letting go of a sick employee was simply wrong.
“The ironic thing about all this is in their playing days, my two favorite athletes over the past 20 years were Brett Favre and Derek Jeter,” Scott said. “Because they played their respective games the way they need to be played. They respected the game. They weren’t hot dogs. They hustled. That’s why they were my favorite players. But Derek’s in a new game now, one of management and ownership, and certain things about this side of the game he needs to learn.”