LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Agent Scott Boras took a shot at the Miami Marlins' new ownership Wednesday, telling reporters at the MLB winter meetings that "we've seen one of our major league jewelry stores become a pawn shop.''
Although he declined to personally take issue with Derek Jeter, the Marlins' new part-owner and CEO, Boras said MLB needs to improve its vetting process in the sale of clubs.
Jeter, who partnered with billionaire businessman Bruce Sherman to buy the Marlins from Jeffrey Loria in October, has already traded National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton, two-time All-Star second baseman Dee Gordon and All-Star outfielder Marcell Ozuna, a Boras client, to reduce payroll.
Outfielder Christian Yelich is no longer in play as a trade candidate, a source confirmed. After trading Stanton, Gordon and Ozuna, the Marlins can easily afford to keep him. Yelich will make $7 million this season and is owed a guaranteed $44.5 million through 2021.
"You have a community down there that grew to know four or five star players,'' Boras said. "They have a tremendous outfield there. They have a new ballpark. They have an excitement they grew to know. They suffered a tremendous tragedy and loss with [the death of] Jose Fernandez. As a community, they bonded around that team.
"You would hope that [with] ownership -- new ownership -- that MLB would screen the ownership, so that we have an ownership that comes in and provide additions. ... [Instead], they come in and they redirect, so you're not a jewelry store that's coveting your diamonds. You now become a pawn shop that is trying to pay the rent of the building. ...
"I think major league markets are damaged by that. I think it's disappointing for players who grew up with one another. You always hear people talk about development and growing in an organization. That process was exhibited and functioning at a high level in Miami, and it was basically redirected due to debt service -- paying off the purchase price for the ownership, as opposed to giving that fan base something to look forward to.''
After Jeter and Sherman bought the Marlins for $1.2 billion, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said he was pleased with the purchase price of the franchise. Manfred also said Miami's new ownership group should not be judged too quickly for trying to shed long-term salary obligations that were agreed to by a previous regime.
"I think it's important for new owners to come in, evaluate the state of their franchise, decide where they think they're headed long term and kind of write with a clean slate,'' Manfred said during the general managers meetings in November. "Whatever decisions are made, I hope the fans in Miami give Bruce and Derek an opportunity to show what their plan is for moving that franchise forward.''
Jeter, who was revered during a 20-year playing career with the New York Yankees, has come under fire for several perceived missteps since taking over the Marlins. At a news conference Monday, Stanton made several comments critical of the way the Marlins handled his blockbuster trade to New York.
Jeter is not attending the winter meetings this week. He engendered some criticism Monday night when TV cameras showed him attending an NFL game in Miami while Marlins officials were in Lake Buena Vista conducting team business.
"Certainly, with the visibility of Derek's stature as a player, people ask questions about his decision-making,'' Boras said. "I'm not clear that it is his decision-making. He's not the principal owner. He's certainly a part of the ownership. But he probably hires people to do that.
"From afar, when I'm getting ready to go to bed at the winter meetings at 4:30 in the morning, and I see the highlights and you see an owner at an NFL game, something tells me that he's hired someone to manage the construct of the team. In fairness to him, I don't really have a proclamation of what his involvement is -- to really know what his decision-making is.''