Marlins' latest payroll purge prompts fan backlash
"The next move obviously is to have Fidel Castro throw out the first pitch next year," DeForrest said. "That's the only way they could alienate the fans more than they have."
Castro became a source of acrimony last April, when Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen's praise of the former Cuban leader infuriated team supporters. That was shortly after the new ballpark opened in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood, and attendance never recovered from the tempest.
Management had projected the rebranded team would win and draw nearly 3 million fans, but instead the Marlins were out of contention by midseason, and attendance barely topped 2.2 million.
With revenue falling short of projections, Loria decided to end the franchise's brief era of big spending. The players traded by the Marlins have combined guaranteed salaries of $163.75 million through 2018, including $96 million due Reyes. The deals he and Buehrle signed when they joined Miami a year ago were heavily backloaded.
Salaries for 2013 include $13.75 million for Johnson in the final year of his contract, $11 million for Buehrle and $10 million for Reyes. The net in guaranteed salaries coming off the Marlins' books is expected to be $154 million, which does not account for any cash that may be involved in the trade.
Three years ago, the Marlins reached an agreement with the players' union to increase spending in the wake of complaints team payroll had been so small as to violate baseball's revenue sharing provisions. But the trade with Toronto leaves the Marlins with an estimated opening-day payroll of $34 million, which would be their lowest since 2008. Oakland had the lowest payroll in the majors last season at $59.5 million.
Of the lineup that took the field for the festive first game in the new ballpark less than eight months ago, only two players remain — Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison.
Stanton tweeted that he was angry about the trade and changed his Twitter photo in an apparent protest, swapping out his Marlins uniform for a black shirt.
"I'm not saying fans can't be upset," Morrison tweeted to his 123,000 followers. "I'm saying I'm not going to get upset. I can't control it. So don't expect me to be upset."
AP Sports Writers Ron Blum in New York and Jay Cohen in Chicago contributed to this report.
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