THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon everybody, welcome everybody to the call. We have got the Marlins CEO
DEREK JETER: on the line with us and we'll go ahead and open it up to any questions from the media.
Q. When you look at the process that you went through here is there anything you would have done differently?
DEREK JETER:: No, there isn't anything I would have done differently, because like I told you guys when I was down at the owners meetings, there's been constant communication between Michael Hill and Giancarlo, Mike Hill, Giancarlo's agent throughout this process. When you guys spoke to me at the owners meeting, you asked me if I had spoken to him personally and I had not spoken to him at that point, I said if there was something to talk about I would speak with him. Since then we have talked, we have met in person, so, no, there isn't anything I would have done differently throughout this process.
Q. How would you summarize your rational for this trade? Why is this a good deal for the Marlins?
DEREK JETER:: Yeah, this is a situation that we, prior to us obtaining or acquiring the organization we had heard that Giancarlo had said that he would not want to be a part of a rebuild and those sentiments were relayed to us after we had took over the organization and one thing that I understand is that you don't want to have someone that does not want to be with your organization. He signed his contract, well-deserved contract, he had a no-trade clause in his contract, he earned it, he negotiated it, and so from that standpoint it is what it is, so we met with him, we talked to him, we spoke to him of our plans of going forward in the future, and he wanted to continue his career elsewhere, so we went out, we spoke with teams and presented him with his options and this is where he ended up going. So for us it gives us flexibility. It gives us flexibility to build our organization, not just at the major league level but our entire organization and if you want to be sustainable as an organization you have to be good from top to bottom or bottom to top and we're going to invest and build this organization the right way, so that we can year in and year out be able to compete.
Q. Can you just kind of explain what moving his contract means in terms of the blueprint of what you all are trying to accomplish here?
DEREK JETER:: Well one it gives us some flexibility, financially it gives us flexibility. The blueprint of the organization is we have to increase our talent pool at the minor league level. In order to be sustainable year in and year out have you to have a pipeline of players that you're able to use at the major league level and that's something that we need to address as an organization. We spent quite a bit of time, I did, with Michael Hill and his team and learning as much as I could about the players that are in place and we're all in agreement that we need to have talent and this allows us to add talent.
Q. Obviously a lot of folks in St. Louis were excited about the idea of adding Stanton. Can you describe what you can about the Cardinals offer, how desirable it was to your end and why in your opinion it was vetoed by Stanton with his no trade?
DEREK JETER:: Well, one, I don't want to get into the discussing other teams' offers. If they want to disclose that, that's entirely up to them. But, yeah, we did have offers, as you know, we did have an offer in place, and Giancarlo, he used his veto right, which he earned, he deserved, and it's his. It's one thing that he negotiated and if he did not want to go to St. Louis, then he had the right to say no. So what we did and when I talked to Giancarlo I told him, listen, we're going to present to you the options and ultimately it is your decision. I say us as an ownership group when we acquired this team, our thoughts were that you were going to be with us and I relayed to him that we want him to be a part of the organization, but it's his choice. He said he wanted to move on, so we presented him with the options, there were three great options for him and he chose which one he wanted to go to.
Q. I want to go back to something that you said at your introductory press conference, you gave us a heads up that some tough decisions were going to have to be made and at times they might be unpopular, how do you balance having to make the best decision for the franchise, but also keeping the fan base engaged, because that's another thing that you wanted to make a priority.
DEREK JETER:: Yeah, you're a hundred percent right, I think the one thing that everyone needs to realize is this is an organization that has not been successful. They have not been in the playoffs since 2003. So, look, I understand -- well actually I can't say I do understand, I don't understand how the fan base feels, because they have been through quite a bit. But for us here, we haven't been winning. So if you haven't been winning, then it's time to make a change. And in order to make a change, there's going to have to be some moves and, like I said, that you alluded to, there may be some unpopular decisions at times but every decision that we makes an organization is to try to put us in a better position and we're trying to fix something that is broken and the fans want a team that's going to win. They show that because we obviously have to get fans back into the stadium because we haven't had, our attendance has been low and I think that the attendance is low because they want to have an opportunity to win. If they want that, then we're going to have to make some changes. So you are right, it is a balancing act, but hopefully they understand that we're trying to put an organization together that is successful.
Q. In terms of deepening the minor league pool of talent what would you tell those who don't understand why the Marlins received so little in return in terms of players for the NL MVP.
DEREK JETER:: Well, so little in return, you mean in terms of quantity?
Q. No, just in terms of obviously major league second baseman and then two prospects who are not ranked among the Yankees top tier.
DEREK JETER:: Well, what I would say to that is we have people in place whose jobs are to know about talent and I think they would disagree with you. We think we got some good prospects in return and now it's up to us as an organization to help develop them. So, yes, you're right, the National League MVP, I don't care what prospect you get back, it won't be household names for a fan base. But we have a talented group in the front office and in baseball operations side that have a lot of confidence in the prospects that we got in return. One other thing I would like to clear up is I've heard things out there that people are saying we were stuck with a deal with the New York Yankees and we had better options from other organizations. That is not the case, this was the best move and the best deal for the organization.
Q. On a personal level, I'm just wondering what this experience has been like for you so far. You were so popular as a player and as you said the day of the news conference you're going to have to make unpopular decision here. To have the word unpopular attached to your name, what is this experience like?
DEREK JETER:: It's been a learning experience. I think one thing is, there has been a lot of stories that have been out there that haven't entirely been true and one thing that has been consistent with me throughout my career, I do not operate through the media, especially when you're talking about players. So there have been some stories that I think have gone different directions, but it's a part of it. But, yeah, it has been a learning experience, I'm learning, learning a lot about this organization, learning that there are a lot of things that need to be fixed and so that's going to take some time. We're not going to turn this organization around overnight, it's going to take some time to get it to where we want it.
Q. You mentioned earlier about this move giving the organization flexibility. Are you satisfied with the amount of flexibility you have now after moving Stanton's contract and will there be more trades to expect with Marcell Ozuna or Christian Yelich?
DEREK JETER:: Once again, I'm not going to operate through the media in terms of specific players. We will look at every opportunity to make this organization better. That's the bottom line. If those opportunities present itself, then we're going to take a look at it. But we will sit down and as a baseball operations side led by Michael Hill and we'll see how we can make this franchise better.
Q. You said that you intended to move forward with Stanton on the team. So that means that you could have absorbed all those contracts going forward, you didn't feel like when you got the team that this was a guy you had to move, and when he told you that he didn't want to be a part of a rebuild, how did that unsettle you, because you said you had planned to have him going forward.
DEREK JETER:: When we took on the team, because he had a no-trade clause, you have to assume that he's going to be here, you can't make the assumption that he's not going to be here, he's under contract with the organization. When he made his, when he was vocal with his desires, that's when we had the conversation with him. But you can't assume that someone is going to waive a no-trade clause.
Q. How much does it help you financially though to get out from under him and when he told you that he didn't want to be part of a rebuild, was that disappointing to you?
DEREK JETER:: Well, of course it helps us, it gives us financial flexibility. It's tough -- listen, it's tough to have one player who is such a huge part of your payroll. So again, yeah, obviously it gives us financial flexibility and then when he said he did not want to be a part of it, we reached out, Michael Hill reached out. There's been constant conversation, constant dialogue between Michael Hill and Giancarlo and Michael Hill and his agent and I have had dialogue with Giancarlo, with his agent, and, so we sat down and looked at two different directions that we can go and we presented him with that and he made a decision, which I have the utmost respect for, he has that opportunity to make that decision, he negotiated that in his contract. So we had a conversation with him and he decided that he wanted to move on, so that's when we got the opportunity to move him.
Q. So now that you have moved Stanton's contract does that give you enough financial flexibility or are you going to have to gain some more through subsequent moves and also along with that what is your message to Marlins fans who may be upset about seeing Stanton and some of these trades being made?
DEREK JETER:: Yeah, like I said before, we will look at every opportunity to make our organization better. I wish I could give you specifics, but you don't deal with player movement or player potential movement through the media. I think that's unfair to the players. But we will look at every opportunity that we can to make this organization better. From the fans' standpoint, look, I get it, they're upset, they're passionate, that's what makes them fans. But the bottom line is the fans want to see a winning product on the field, they haven't seen a winning product on the field, and in order for us to do this we're going to have to make some moves and we're going to have to build this organization. It's not just building an organization at the major league level, we have to, this is minor leagues, this is a pipeline of players, this is player development and scouting. We need to have a strong organization from the bottom up and that's what I would tell the fans is be patient, they have been patient because they haven't won for a long time, but what has been in place has not been working, it's evident that it has not been working and we need to fix that, we can't just continue to dig ourselves a bigger hole.
Q. You mentioned a few times that you talked to Giancarlo. Can you, when was the first time, were these face-to-face, how many times, and what were the conversations like?
DEREK JETER:: Well, one, I did speak with him, I can't give you a date, an exact date when it's been. We did meet face-to-face in person. Like I said, I spoke with his agent as well. What our conversations were was exactly what I said is that the fact that I told him that this organization is trying to build and we can build with you or without you. He's earned that right to make the decision because of the contract that he negotiated and having a no-trade clause. So that's what the conversation was about.
Q. So does that mean that when he won his MVP you did not reach out to him and speak to him?
DEREK JETER:: I'm sorry, what?
Q. When he won his MVP did you like call and congratulate him? This is a guy who was still on your team at that point, I'm just curious, he won the first MVP in the history of the organization, did you reach out earlier and try to like congratulate him or did you see no value in that?
DEREK JETER:: I congratulated him on winning the MVP. Was it right after he won the MVP? No. But I reached out to him.
Q. What was your reason for deciding not to attend the Winter Meetings this week?
DEREK JETER:: I was never planning on attending the Winter Meetings. Michael Hill is our President of Baseball Operations and that is his job.
Q. Any estimate on when you might hire a President of Business Operations?
DEREK JETER:: It's not -- I don't want to say, give you an estimate, I think it's a process that takes some time and we want to make sure that we hire the right person. So I wouldn't put a timeline on it, but it is a top priority for us.
Q. How is the search going?
DEREK JETER:: The search is going good. It's going well.
Q. You mentioned that the money saved in the Stanton deal will enable you to get more talent going forward and yet at the same time you could have taken more money back and acquired talent that way. If talent is the priority, why not do that?
DEREK JETER:: You're saying taking more money back from? I'm sorry, guys, my phone is in and out.
Q. No problem. Assuming more of the obligation to Stanton, if you had taken more of the money and you could have, in theory, this is the way it generally works, you get better players back. Why not just do it that way?
DEREK JETER:: Well I think we were presented with offers. Michael Hill did a great job negotiating, you can ask him that question. But that is Michael's job, but, yes, it gives us financial flexibility. I can't reiterate that enough. You guys all know that it's very difficult for this organization to absorb that contract moving forward. And that was obviously one of the reasons why we were hoping to do it as well. We were prepared to move forward with him on the team, him not on the team obviously gives us more room.
Q. What were your feelings about trading him to the Yankees ultimately?
DEREK JETER:: My feelings on trading him to the Yankees? I had no feelings about trading him to the Yankees, we wanted to get the best deal. And like I said, contrary to popular belief, we were not stuck with this deal, this was the best deal out of the three for our organization. It was the best deal for us. So in terms of trade, I know it's gotten a lot of headlines, but my feelings are to try to make the Miami Marlins organization better and that is my number one priority.
Q. And was it ever an option for you just not to trade him at this point and have him go into the season with you guys?
DEREK JETER:: Yeah, I said that.
Q. You mentioned financial flexibility a couple times. Both teams in Florida have obviously struggled financially and at the gate. What do you think it will ultimately take to work in Miami?
DEREK JETER:: Well, there's multiple things. One, we have to get the fan base back in the stadium. We have to get them engaged. We have to increase attendance, that's the bottom line. Giancarlo had an, arguably, one of the best seasons that anyone's seen in years and years and at the same time the fans still didn't come in. So we have to get the fans more engaged with this organization and that will take time. I think that starts with putting a team on the field that has an opportunity to win and that's what we're trying to build here and that's what we will build here.
Q. You talked about preaching patience. That was not been your MO as a player. How difficult do you think it's going to be for you to be patient and go through this process?
DEREK JETER:: That's a good question. Like I said, this is a learning experience and, yeah, it will take patience and it is difficult because, look, I get the fact that the fans want a team that's going to have an opportunity to win right away. I get that because, like you said, that's what I expected and that's what I wanted. But this organization -- how this organization has been run has to change and I think you understand that, I think everyone understands that, and it's going to take some time to build this. It starts with patience. But, yes, it's as difficult for me as I'm sure it is for the fan base, because the fan base has been waiting for a team to at least just be in the playoffs since 2003. So we have to change that. I'm just as impatient as them.
Q. I just want to clarify something that you said. You said you wanted to make the best deal for the Marlins and that the Yankees deal was the best deal that you were offered. So why even present the Cardinal and Giants deals to Stanton?
DEREK JETER:: Because I told him point blank, that I would present you with the best offers that were on the table. And those were the offers that were on the table and those were the only offers that were on the table, and we presented each and every one to him. So that's why I presented it to him because I was honest with him, we were honest with him, Michael Hill as well, we were honest with him and we told him, the offers that we have for you, we will present you with. Because he has the no-trade clause, he has an opportunity to move along if he wants to. So we presented him with all offers that were given to us.
Q. So just to follow-up on that, at any point before that had he made clear to you the one, two, three, whatever number of teams it was he was willing to go to or was it not until after you presented it?
DEREK JETER:: No, he had made, he was very clear with Michael Hill and he told Michael Hill the teams that were on his list. So we knew what teams were on his list and we told him that we would get back to him with what offers were on the table. So there was no miscommunication.
THE MODERATOR: All right, thank you everybody for joining us, thank you Derek Michael Hill will be available in Orlando outside the work room shortly here right about 1 or just a little after 1 p.m. thank you.