Baseball owners quiet on first day of meetings
CHICAGO — While the Miami Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays worked on a blockbuster trade with far-reaching implications, major league owners and executives descended on Chicago on Wednesday for the first of two days of meetings.
The deal was the talk of the baseball world. But the game’s power brokers didn’t seem too interested in talking about the trade in public, perhaps waiting to see its full scope.
“Not today, boys,” Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria said as he strolled by a group of reporters. “If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m not going to figure it out for you.”
Loria went on a spending spree last winter, handing out lucrative free-agent deals to All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes, left-hander Mark Buehrle and closer Heath Bell. The Marlins thought they would contend for the NL East title and draw 3 million fans in the first year of their publicly financed ballpark.
But they flopped, finishing last in the division. Bell was traded to Arizona in October, with the Marlins agreeing to pay $8 million of the remaining $21 million owed to the reliever. Now Reyes, Buehrle and Josh Johnson — probably Miami’s best pitcher when healthy — are headed to Toronto for a package of top prospects.
“I really haven’t focused on it,” said New York Yankees president Randy Levine, whose team will have to contend with the improved Blue Jays in the AL East. “Obviously, they got great players and both teams felt they improved themselves.”
The deal is pending physicals for the players, and Miami could be sending money to Toronto in the trade — something that likely caught the attention of the owners at the meetings.
“That’s an interesting question, but I think you might want to address that to the commissioner,” White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf said.
Commissioner Bud Selig said Wednesday night that no deal has been submitted to him for approval, but otherwise declined to address the potential trade. He is expected to talk at the conclusion of the meetings on Thursday.
Selig and the owners shuffled in and out of rooms all day, but no one seemed interested in talking about the topics discussed at the meetings.
Oakland is interested in building a new ballpark in San Jose, but that area is considered part of the San Francisco Giants’ territory. Selig said at the World Series he is working on the issue, and A’s managing partner Lew Wolff refused to talk about the situation on Wednesday.
The owners are expected to hear more about expanding the use of instant replay to fair-foul calls and trap plays on potential catches, and possibly even more. But it was unclear if that topic was addressed on the first day of the meetings.
“Without focusing on a general type of play, I would say that we need to, baseball needs to move forward,” Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said. “I’m confident the commissioner and the special committee he’s got in place will examine a variety of options that will begin to address that problem.”