Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig has approved the controversial multi-player trade involving the Miami Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays.
Last Tuesday, the Marlins agreed to send shortstop Jose Reyes, catcher John Buck, outfielder Emilio Bonifacio and pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle to Toronto in exchange for shortstop Yunel Escobar, catcher Jeff Mathis, infielder Adeiny Hechavarria, pitcher Henderson Alvarez, minor league pitcher Anthony DeSclafini and a pair of highly regarded prospects -- outfielder Jake Marisnick and pitcher Justin Nicolino.
The deal, which also involved cash, was considered by many to be a salary dump by the Marlins, who finished last in the NL East after a spending spree that followed the building of a new ballpark.
"Since Tuesday, I have carefully reviewed the proposed transaction between the Miami Marlins and the Toronto Blue Jays," Selig said in the statement. "I asked our Baseball Operations Department and our Labor Relations Department to compare this proposed transaction with similar deals. I also consulted with experienced baseball operations executives to get their input regarding the talent involved in this transaction.
"After a thorough examination of this information, it is my conclusion that this transaction, involving established Major Leaguers and highly regarded young players and prospects, represents the exercise of plausible baseball judgment on the part of both clubs, does not violate any express rule of Major League Baseball and does not otherwise warrant the exercise of any of my powers to prevent its completion. It is, of course, up to the clubs involved to make the case to their respective fans that this transaction makes sense and enhances the competitive position of each, now or in the future.
"I am sensitive to the concerns of the fans of Miami regarding this trade, and I understand the reactions I have heard since Tuesday. Baseball is a social institution with important social responsibilities and I fully understand that the Miami community has done its part to put the Marlins into a position to succeed with beautiful new Marlins Park. Going forward, I will continue to monitor this situation with the expectation that the Marlins will take into account the sentiments of their fans, who deserve the best efforts and considered judgment of their club. I have received assurances from the ownership of the Marlins that they share these beliefs and are fully committed to build a long-term winning team that their fans can be proud of."
The Marlins have finished last in the NL East two consecutive years. With the opening of the new park, ownership pursued a few high-profile free agents last winter, including Albert Pujols.
While they lost out on Pujols, the Marlins did sign Reyes and Buehrle to big deals, while also inking closer Heath Bell to a long-term contract. Bell was traded to Arizona earlier this offseason.
"We've finished in last place the past two years and that is unacceptable to our fans, to us as an organization, and to me," said Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria in a statement Monday. "We want to get back to our winning ways and we want a winning baseball team for our fans. It's incumbent on us to make the changes necessary to make us a winner again.
"It may not happen overnight, but with the players we acquired in the second half of last season, coupled with the infusion of players we are acquiring now, we will be returning to Marlins baseball: high energy and hungry."
Loria has come under fire for the recent deals, which some liken to fire sales the club has had in the past. However, the other major overhauls came after the Marlins won the World Series in 1997 and again in 2003.