ORLANDO, Fla. — As trade rumors continue to swirl around Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, new owner Derek Jeter is leaving it to his baseball operations people to keep the face of the franchise in the loop.
Jeter also cautioned that it’s not a foregone conclusion that Stanton will be with another team on Opening Day of 2018.
Jeter met with reporters at the MLB general managers meetings Wednesday and said he has yet to speak directly with Stanton. He has left it to Michael Hill, the Marlins’ president of baseball operations, to be the point man for outreach with the team’s star right fielder.
“There are some financial things we have to get in order. … How we do that is not clear. It’s easy to point the finger at (Stanton) because he makes the most money, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the move that’s going to be made.”
Jeter also declined to predict whether Stanton, a prime candidate for National League Most Valuable Player, will still be with the team on Opening Day of 2018.
“There are some financial things we have to get in order,” Jeter said. “That’s the bottom line. It’s an organization that’s been losing money for quite some time, so we have to turn that around. How we do that is not clear. It’s easy to point the finger at [Stanton] because he makes the most money, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the move that’s going to be made.
“I understand the assumptions. I do. But we have not come out publicly and said we are trading any particular player. I’ve been a player. You don’t like to see your name constantly in the rumors that are going back and forth with every organization. You can drive yourself crazy. So we have not come out and pointed the finger specifically at any one player.”
Jeter, a 14-time All-Star shortstop with the New York Yankees and future Hall of Famer, assumed control of the Marlins in October as part of a group that includes billionaire Florida businessman Bruce Sherman. The team was saddled with debt under former owner Jeffrey Loria, and Jeter’s group reportedly plans to reduce the payroll from a franchise-record $115 million to about $90 million next season.
That’s put the focus on Stanton, who led the majors with 59 home runs, 132 RBIs and a .631 slugging percentage this season. Stanton has a guaranteed $295 million left on his contract, which runs through 2027, and trade talks are further complicated by a blanket no-trade clause that requires him to sign off on any deal.
During his 17-minute Q&A with reporters, Jeter said he feels no need to reach out directly to Stanton with updates. So he’s left that task to Hill.
“If there’s a reason to call, I’ll call,” Jeter said. “But at this point, there’s no reason to call. I don’t know how often the owner calls and talks to all the players on the team and shares his vision. I had a close relationship with Hal [Steinbrenner], but he didn’t share his vision every single offseason.
“If you get into the practice of reaching out to every player every time there’s a rumor, you’d be spending 95 percent of your time on the phone trying to dispel rumors. Michael Hill has been in contact with him. That’s Michael’s job. He’s the president of baseball ops and he’s spoken to him. So it’s not like it’s radio silence coming from the organization.”
The Marlins finished second in the NL East this year with a 77-85 record — 20 games behind the first-place Washington Nationals — and the payroll squeeze could make a leap to contention even more challenging. But Jeter said he’s unwilling to accept the idea that the Marlins face an extended run of losing as they potentially transition to a younger and cheaper roster.
“I said in my initial press conference, ‘We’re trying to build an organization that’s sustainable over time,”’ Jeter said. “I don’t like the word ‘rebuild,’ because I think a lot of negativity comes with that. But we’re trying to build something here. And we will build something. But it will take time, and there has to be patience.
“The team hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2003, and they haven’t had a winning season since ’09. That’s unacceptable to the ownership group and the fan base. Yes, it will take time. But every team has to go through a period where they have to build. We’re in that position right now.”