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Marlins payroll to be cut, and that’s OK

It was always going to be a controversial decision, but if it is done correctly, the team will be more successful long-term.

Derek Jeter Ceremony Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The calendar has flipped to September, and as the Marlins stand on the outside looking in for the 14th season in succession, with a talented yet flawed roster once again, another player overhaul looks to be on the horizon.

The sale of the team just a few weeks ago was supposed signal the end of the penny-pinching ways which have plagued baseball in Miami for more than a decade, 2012 aside, but it has emerged that the new ownership group likely has cutting payroll near the top of their to-do list this off-season.

While the mere thought of another fire sale will probably send approval ratings for Derek Jeter and the other investors free-falling before they even take the reins, their hands really are tied, and they cannot be judged so quickly for trying to fix the Marlins, even if it means saying goodbye to the likes of Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich and, most importantly, Giancarlo Stanton.

It has been well documented just how much of a hole the franchise is in financially. The Marlins are set to lose $70 million this season, and that is on top of roughly $400 million in existing debt. The team’s payroll is extremely high for a team that has the worst TV deal in baseball, does not reap the rewards of stadium naming rights deals (potentially worth $2 million a season) and is only filling just over 50% of their seats, on average, despite having one of the newest stadiums in all of baseball, and a slugger that could break some extremely prestigious records over the final month of the season.

Given these circumstances, it does not take a genius to realize that a 2018 player payroll of well over $100 million is not feasible, and none of that is the new ownership group’s fault. All that Marlins fans can hope for is that the forthcoming trades signify the start of a true rebuild, not a salary dump, even if that means waiting until the Trade Deadline next season to deal some players to get the best prospects in return.

If Jeter is committed to seeing this team win in the next few years, which he will be judging by his competitiveness and career success to date, then he will craft each move to maximize the talent the Marlins will have to replenish the farm system and build from the ground up. Some people are questioning Jeter’s lack of experience in heading a front office, but no one can take away his desire to win, which will only bring good things for Miami baseball in the near future.

Repairing relationships with the people of Miami and negotiating better business deals to reduce the debt while the payroll is low during the rebuild is the quickest fix for this franchise. Then, once the acquired prospects reach the major leagues, the team will have more money to add the necessary pieces to contend, and more fans will flock to the ballpark to watch a truly competitive Marlins team for the first time since 2003.

Derek Jeter epitomizes success, and many had hoped that he would bring that pedigree with him to Miami to send this talented, but incomplete team to the top of the standings for years to come. Turning Miami into a perennial playoff contender could still happen, but it may take a few years and a completely different set of players to do so, and that’s OK.