The Marlins have invited 19 players to spring training as non-roster invitees. The 19 are: Hector Almonte (P), Bruce Aven (OF), Fletcher Bates (OF), Chris Clapinski (IF), Archie Corbin (P), Benji Gil (SS), Lionel Hastings (C), Tim Hyers (IF), Kevin Millar (IF), Chris Norton (C), Pablo Ozuna (SS), Dario Perez (P), Ryan Robertson (C), Bobby Rodgers (P), John Roskos (C), Dennis Springer (P), Rob Stanifer (P), Darond Stovall (OF), and Ed Yarnall (P). The first full squad work-out is scheduled for February 26. The Marlins expect 58 players in camp.
Josh Booty, a former first round pick, star high school quarterback, and opening day third baseman has been given a release from his contract. Booty, signed a lucrative contract including a $1.6 million signing bonus. But the contract explicitly stated that Booty may not play football. After a failing minor league career, the Marlins have released Booty from his contract so he can play football at LSU. The only condition is that the Marlins own his right, should he choose to play baseball in the future.
In a first validation of John Henry’s committment to succeed, the Marlins signed Cliff Floyd to a 4 year $19 milllion contract. Floyd was the team’s best player last year and many believe he will develop into a superstar. Floyd becomes the second highest paid Marlin (second to Alex Fernandez). Floyd will earn $2.5 million this season, $4.5 million in 2000, $5.5 million in 2001 and $6.5 million in 2002.
John Henry held his first press conference as the owner of the Florida Marlins. Henry’s main points: he is committed to raise the payroll ($10 – 15 million more than last year); he needs the fans help to build a ballpark (the more public money, the more he will invest in payroll); and fans need to buy season ticket (call 930-HITS). Henry will not name a team President to replace Don Smiley. Jim Ross will handle the marketing and non-baseball issues, CFO Jonathan Mariner will handle the finances and the new ballpark, and Dave Dombrowski will oversee the baseball operations.
Major League Baseball owners unanimously approved the sale of the Marlins from Wayne Huizenga to John Henry. Henry plans an introductory news conference on January 19, 1999 alongside his friend and current Yankee owner George Steinbrenner. As a sign of goodwill, Henry is likely to simply give away his share of the New York Yankees, a share valued at $10 million.
Pat Watkins, a former first round pick, was acquired by the Marlins from the Cincinnati Reds for minor league pitcher Pedro Minaya. The 26 year old outfielder was added to the team’s 40-man roster and is expected to provide needed right hand hitting off the bench. Watkins split the season between the Reds and their AAA affiliate, while Minaya split the season between A and Rookie League.