NASHVILLE — Florida Marlins General Manager Larry Beinfest strongly denied Angels owner Arte Moreno's claims that the teams had a deal for slugger Miguel Cabrera in place twice in November, only to have the trades fall apart because the Marlins increased their demands at the last minute.
"There were no deals," Beinfest said during Wednesday's news conference to announce Florida's trade of Cabrera and pitcher Dontrelle Willis to the Detroit Tigers for six players, including young pitcher Andrew Miller and top outfield prospect Cameron Maybin.
"I think our track record has been that we deal straight up. We know what we want, and if there's a deal to be made, it will be made. . . . We knew what our bottom line was. I've always taken the tack that there's not a deal until there's a deal on both sides."
Though Beinfest did not identify Moreno and San Francisco Giants GM Brian Sabean by name, he criticized both for their comments last week.
Sabean, who was also in the hunt for Cabrera, wondered if the Marlins "really want to trade the player or if they absolutely, positively have to win the deal in such a one-sided fashion."
Said Beinfest: "We're in a private world here in baseball, there's discussions about players every day; if you don't like the asking price, so be it, no harm, no foul, and you move on. To talk about it publicly, especially with the magnitude of the player we were discussing, is just disappointing, that's all."
Angels GM Tony Reagins declined to comment, and when asked if he was concerned teams might view Moreno's comments as unprofessional, he said, "I don't deal with perception."
Clearly, there is some ill will between the Marlins and Angels, who discussed four-for-one and six-for-two deals, but the six-for-two scenario did not include Willis, who went 10-15 with a 5.17 earned-run average last season.
With second baseman Howie Kendrick the centerpiece of the Angels' offer, the Angels were believed to have asked for Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla as part of an eight-player deal that would have sent two more prospects to Florida.
According to baseball sources, the Angels' original offer for Cabrera was Kendrick, catcher Jeff Mathis and top pitching prospect Nick Adenhart. The Marlins wanted Ervin Santana added to the package; the Angels preferred to add outfielder Reggie Willits.
Talks broke down after Moreno's Nov. 28 comments, and when the Angels, according to a source, pulled Kendrick from their offer at the winter meetings Monday night, the Marlins turned their full attention to the Tigers, who acquired a 24-year-old third baseman who would have looked awfully good in the Angels' lineup.
Before finalizing the trade with the Tigers, the Marlins called the Dodgers and White Sox to give them one last chance to sweeten their offers for Cabrera. They did not extend that courtesy to the Angels, who probably wouldn't have budged, anyway.
"The cost was much higher to us as to where we were going to be and what we were going to be able do," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "The people that were going to leave our club would have left us with not as much depth in some areas we need to be deep in."
The Marlins, eager to shed payroll, thought they had a better match with Detroit, which will add Cabrera, who is expected to make about $11 million in arbitration, and Willis, who should make about $9 million, to its 2008 payroll.
The Angels have payroll concerns of their own -- they're already at about $125 million for 2008, over budget, according to Moreno. They had no interest in Willis, and financial constraints also appear to be a factor in their lukewarm attempts to acquire ace Johan Santana from the Minnesota Twins.
The Angels just committed $90 million over five years to center fielder Torii Hunter, they want to negotiate an extension for slugger Vladimir Guerrero and a multiyear deal for closer Francisco Rodriguez.
The contracts of pitchers John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar expire after 2009, and several young players will reach arbitration soon, all pushing the payroll upward over the next few years.
"You have a budget, and you have to adhere to it," Reagins said. "If you go over it, you have to have some strong reasons, or else you're going to be in financial trouble."