Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes aren't the first Marlins to be traded only one season into multi-year deals after receiving verbal assurances that they wouldn't. Carlos Delgado was also told not to worry when he expressed concerns about the team's unwillingness to grant him veto power with any trade.
And in all three instances, it appears that Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria was the one doing the comforting. A source told The Herald's Barry Jackson that was the case with Reyes, and I've heard it was the same for Buehrle.
Delgado's agent, David Sloane, said it was Loria who tried to allay his client's concerns when the Marlins were courting the free agent slugger In 2005. Sloane said that during the bidding process, Delgado had received an offer from the Texas Rangers that promised full no-trade rights while the New York Mets had agreed to provide limited no-trade protection that would allow Delgado to veto deals to a set list of specified teams. The Marlins, per team policy, refused to write binding, no-trade language into the contract.
But Loria -- anxious to sign the first baseman -- gave Delgado verbal assurances that the Marlins wouldn't trade him. Sloane remembers the moment vividly. Sloane said that after taking Delgado to lunch at Joe's Stone Crab, he and members of the Marlins front office returned to Sun Life Stadium to continue negotiating. That's when Loria looked Delgado in the eye and told him there was no need to sweat.
According to Sloane, Loria's exact words were: "If you play like you have in the past and I try to trade you, the fans will hang me in front of the stadium."
Delgado agreed to a 4-year/$52 million deal that was so heavily backloaded he received just $4 million from the Marlins in '05. Despite a banner season in which he finished sixth in the voting for NL MVP by hitting .301/.399/.582 with 33 home runs and 115 RBI, Delgado was traded to the Mets for Grant Psomas, Mike Jacobs and Yusmeiro Petit. The scaffold never went up.
"He wasn't happy about it," Sloane said.
It's probably no coincidence that in terms of total dollars, the three richest contracts awarded by the Marlins to free agents have gone to Reyes (6 years/$106 million), Buehrle (4/$58) and Delgado. With all three, the outcome proved to be the same. When it came time for salaries to escalate, the players were gone. One and done. Good riddance.
Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfestacknowledged on Monday that the lastest episode may make it difficult for the team to attract free agents in the future.
"I understand there may be some disdain in the market place," Beinfest said. "We don't know until we get into those negotiations with free agents or until we show over a sustained period of time that we operate in a certain manner. It's definitely not great for the club and we're going to have to deal with it."
But Beinfest said he remains in favor of maintaining the club's policy of not giving no-trade protection.
"It's not going to be my recommendation we change our view of no-trade clauses," Beinfest said. "It was certainly not the intention, and I'll speak for Jeffrey on this, when we signed these guys, to be where we are today...."
Give David Sloane credit. The Coral Springs-based agent had a healthy enough skepticism of the Marlins to shield client Carlos Delgado from the same situation Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, John Buck and Emilio Bonifacio are facing as they prepare to become members of the Toronto Blue Jays.
When the Marlins signed Delgado to a four-year, $52 million free agent contract before the 2005 season, Sloane wasn’t thrilled that the offer was back-loaded and did not include any no-trade provisions. Unconvinced Delgado would be a Marlin for the duration of that contract, he insisted on a unique clause that would allow Delgado to recoup whatever money he lost as a result of being traded to a team whose players are subject to state income tax. The Marlins after one season traded Delgado to the Mets, but he didn’t take a financial hit the way this current batch of soon-to-be ex-Marlins will.
Robert Raiola, the sports and entertainment group manager at Fazio, Mannuzza, Roche, Tankel and LaPilusa, a New Jersey-based tax, accounting and advisory firm, told the Wall Street JournalMarlins players will lose a combined $8.4 million. According to the article, a tax rate hike for high income earners in Ontario is set to come online soon.
To the best of Sloane’s knowledge, that Delgado contract was the first and only one to include protection from unforeseen state income taxes. Considering the club’s history, wouldn’t be surprised if representatives of future Marlins’ free agent targets insist on similar provisions. Of the 11 players this Marlins ownership group has signed to contracts of three or more years, five were traded after the first season (Delgado, Paul Lo Duca, Reyes, Buehrle, Heath Bell). Three others — Buck, Mike Lowell, Luis Castillo — were traded after two seasons.
The five players going from the Miami Marlins to the Toronto Blue Jays figure to be quite unhappy with one aspect of the pending blockbuster between the clubs.
Those players could take a significant financial hit moving from Florida, a state with no income tax, to Canada, a country where their tax rate will reach 47.97 percent between provincial and federal requirements, according to Forbes.com.
Retired first baseman Carlos Delgado could have faced the same issue when the Marlins traded him to the New York Mets seven years ago. But his agent, David Sloane, already had found a solution.
The Marlins had refused to grant Delgado a no-trade clause when they signed him to a four-year, $52 million free-agent contract on Jan. 26, 2005 — a stance that foreshadowed their positions last off-season with free-agent shortstop Jose Reyes, left-hander Mark Buehrle and closer Heath Bell, all of whom have since been traded.
Sloane, trying to protect Delgado, negotiated a different form of security into the player’s contract — a clause that required any team that acquired Delgado to pay him the amount of the income tax that he would be charged by his new state.
The clause would not have applied if the Marlins had traded Delgado to a team in another state without income tax — say, the Texas Rangers. But when the Marlins sent Delgado to the Mets 11 months after signing him — sound familiar? — the first baseman was covered.
Sloane said that Delgado saved $2,269,500 million in taxes over the rest of his contract. At the time of the trade, he still was owed $39 million over three years, and the Mets later exercised a $12 million club option to keep him through 2009.
“When the Marlins refused to include a no-trade clause, that raised a red flag for me,” Sloane said. “I set out to try to find a way to give my client a bit of security in a deal that lacked it.
“The way to do that was by insisting that, if he was traded to a state with state income tax, that he would be made whole and net out the same amount that he would have if he had remained in Florida.”
It is not known whether any of the five players going to the Jays negotiated a similar clause in their contracts; none of their agents responded to a question on the matter Thursday.
Four of the five were under multiyear contracts. Right-hander Josh Johnson signed an extension in January 2010. Catcher John Buck agreed to a free-agent deal in November 2010, Reyes and Buehrle to free-agent deals last December.
Johnson will earn $13.75 million in ‘13, Buehrle $11 million and Reyes $10 million. Each then would owe nearly $600,000 in Canadian taxes, according to Forbes. Buck, earning $6 million, would owe probably about half that, and Bonifacio, projected to earn about $2.5 million in arbitration, considerably less.
For Johnson and Buck, the tax hit would be a one-time thing; both are free agents at the end of the season. Buehrle, however, is guaranteed $52 million through ’15, including a $4 million signing bonus that was deferred. Reyes is guaranteed $96 million through ’17, including a $4 million buyout on a club option. Bonifacio is under club control through arbitration for two more years.
While Delgado now moves to the National League in the hopes of helping the Marlins to a second World Series title in three seasons, it was the cunning Sloane who stole the spotlight in the days and weeks leading up to yesterday's deal...
For that, he can thank Sloane, who remained fiercely protective of his 32- year-old client throughout and concluded negotiations by playing four teams - the Marlins, Mets, Rangers and Orioles - off against one another...
Florida had initially made Delgado a three-year, $36 million offer. But the key to yesterday's deal was Sloane embarking on a gutsy strategy to wait until marquee free agents like Carlos Beltran signed and left Delgado as the lone premium bat still on the market - sowing the seeds for a bidding war.
Sloane played the waiting game perfectly. This guy can deal. The Jays were among many who believed, incorrectly, that Delgado, with a glut of younger sluggers on the open market, would be forced to settle for a contract of perhaps two years, with an option, for about $10 million a season. Wrong!
Sloane had set-in-stone salary parameters for Delgado and stuck to his guns throughout. He believed Carlos Beltran would set the ceiling for Delgado in terms of dollars per year and that the trio of Adrian Beltre, Richie Sexson and Troy Glaus would serve as the floor. That's exactly what happened.
And as the bidding continued in The Price is Right fashion, the Marlins, Delgado, and his agent, David Sloane of Coral Springs, Fla., agreed upon a four-year guaranteed deal worth $52 million, the richest contract in franchise history.
In the wake of Bonds' and Boone's surrender and A's free agent Jason Giambi's seven-year contract for Delgado-type money with the Yankees, David Sloane, who had wisely included a clause which allowed Delgado's contract to be reopened last winter, could easily be voted agent of the year.
However, not every team was happy with the signing. "They're paying Carlos Delgado more than Chipper Jones? Who is his agent -- he's a good one," said one executive. "Jones won an MVP for Atlanta ... I thought that would be the ceiling for position players until Alex Rodriguez."
Toronto general manager Gord Ash panicked a year ago after being forced to trade Shawn Green, and Sloane was able to parlay that into a sweetheart deal for his client.
He got Ash to sign Delgado to a three-year, $32 million deal a year ago and forced Ash to include an opt-out clause for Delgado, allowing him to force a trade after the first year was completed.
It was a win-win situation for Delgado.
Had he been hurt or struggled on the field the past season, he had the security of the final two years of that deal.
As it was, he enjoyed a season worthy of MVP consideration.
And Delgado was able to combine that with the ego of a new ownership wanting to show fans it is committed to building a contending team into a salary that shook baseball's free-agent market before the first player had even filed for this year's bidding.
CHICAGO _ The early returns are in and they are not good for the Cubs' ongoing attempt to sign Sammy Sosa to a contract extension.
Toronto's CarlosDelgado, who at 28 is three years younger than Sosa and has hit 196 fewer career home runs, raised the bar on salaries Friday with his four-year, $68-million deal. But he won't be the highest paid for long.
Manny Ramirez, who already has turned down five years and $75 million, is expected to receive a bigger offer from the Cleveland Indians this week. And, like Chipper Jones' six-year, $90 million deal with Atlanta, these are only the contract prelims.
Things will get serious with Alex Rodriguez in November. His deal will have major bearing on Derek Jeter, who is expected to make Yankees owner George Steinbrenner pay for leaving that nine-year, $120 million deal in his desk drawer too long.
Delgado forced the Blue Jays' hand by challenging for the Triple Crown after signing a deal last winter that included the right to demand a trade after the season. He had two years left on that contract but signed for two more years. The average value of the deal is $17 million, which makes it the biggest on the books. The biggest had been Rogers Clemens' $15.45 million.
Maybe it is merely a sign of the times, but before a single pitch had even been thrown in this historic Subway Series between the Yankees and New York Mets, baseball’s salary structure had once again been turned on its ear. The free-agency filing period officially will begin the day after the Yankees and Mets play their final game, which could be as soon as Thursday or as late as Halloween.
And when the prospective free agents begin taking off their jerseys and putting on the letters of the Major League Baseball Players Association, let the record show that they will enter the winter games standing on higher ground than they might have expected. After Roger Clemens signed an, er, interesting contract earlier this season that guarantees him $30.9 million over the 2001-2002 seasons, his average salary of roughly $15.45 million was the highest in the game, exceeding the $15 million awarded to Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Kevin Brown in 1998. Now the number has gone up again, to an average salary of $17 million that will be paid to Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Carlos Delgado during the four-year period from 2001-2004.
The most questionablecontractof last winter, in fact, was signed byDelgadohimself, a three-year, $36-millioncontractthat included a $3 million signing bonus and a base salary of $5.6 million this year.But thatcontractallowedDelgadothe right to demand a trade within 10 days of the final game in this World Series, so the Jays were forced to renegotiate with a player who threatened to win the Triple Crown this season and should finish in the top five of the MVP balloting.Thiscontractincludes a signing bonus of $4.8 million, which meansDelgadohas earned $7.8 million in the last year merely for signing his name. (Autograph shows not included.)
Thankfully, thiscontractincludes a no-trade clause, which means both player and club actually may have to (gasp) honor the full deal this time.
Naturally, this is only the beginning. Technically,Delgadowasn’t even a free agent, meaning he wasn’t able to playToronto’s offers against other teams.
The Baltimore Orioles made their first significant move of what promises to be a busy offseason by signing free agent reliever Mike Timlin to a four-year, $16 million contract. His arrival means the Orioles have a proven closer for the first time since allowing Randy Myers to depart via free agency a year ago.
Timlin, 32, is the first important acquisition for new Orioles general manager Frank Wren, but he’s not likely to be the last. Orioles majority owner Peter Angelos on Wednesday discussed a significant make-over of the team, with the acquisition of a starting pitcher, center fielder, second baseman and catcher at the top of the list.
Timlin was the day’s most significant development. The Orioles had made acquiring a new closer a top priority after a season in which youngster Armando Benitez and five other relievers collected saves. “We think he has a chance to be a real dominant closer,” Wren said of Timlin. “He was one of the best in the American League in the second half. Our scouts raved about the way he threw. They felt he really had arrived on the scene. We weren’t the only club that felt that way.”
Benitez had the closer’s role for most of the season. Although his 22 saves are three more than Timlin had for the Seattle Mariners, Benitez never gained the complete confidence of Miller after hitting Tino Martinez with a pitch that started a brawl at Yankee Stadium. Benitez blew four save chances in all, but it was his lack of consistency and maturity that bothered the Orioles. Team officials have discussed a trade that would send Benitez to the New York Mets for catcher Todd Hundley, but they’re holding off on the deal because of concerns about Hundley’s health.
Although Timlin blew five saves, he was tremendous in the second half of the season, converting 18 of 19 chances. He appeared in 70 games and had an ERA of 2.95. Scouts say he has a first-rate arm, and his best pitch is a hard sinker that should make him more effective on the grass of Camden Yards. “I like Baltimore, I know Baltimore can win,” Timlin said. “I asked Alan Mills about the organization and how things are done. He said nothing but positive things. He said it was a great organization and they take care of you.”
Timlin began his big league career by spending 6 ½ seasons with Toronto. His best season was 1996 when he saved 31 games, though he blew seven chances. He was traded to Seattle in 1997 but wasn’t give the closer’s job until this season. Timlin made just over $3 million last season, and the Mariners offered him $12 million over three years. However, they declined to give him a fourth season and all but gave up on signing Timlin yesterday morning when they completed negotiations with Jose Mesa. They informed Timlin that they were reducing their offer, thereby forcing his hand. He had two four-year offers, one from the Orioles and the other from the New York Yankees, who wanted him to be a setup man and occasionally share the closer’s job with Mariano Rivera.
Timlin chose the Orioles after Wren and agent David Sloane agreed on a deal that includes a $1 million signing bonus and base salaries of $2 million in 1999, $4 million in 2000, $4 million in 2001 and $5 million in 2002.