Ranking the Biggest MLB Team Fire Sales of All Time

Robert Knapel@@RobertKnapel_BRCorrespondent INovember 16, 2012

Ranking the Biggest MLB Team Fire Sales of All Time

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    There has been yet another MLB fire sale this year as the Miami Marlins have liquidated almost every high-paid player from their roster in a deal with the Toronto Blue Jays.

    Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Joe Buck and Emilio Bonifacio were all sent packing, in large part due to their salaries.

    This was not the first fire sale in Marlins history, and it shows that the team higher-ups are not interested in winning, but rather in being as profitable as they can be.

    Unfortunately for fans, fire sales are part of the game and they will likely continue to be for a long time. Teams will deal some of their best players for 75 cents on the dollar just so that they will not have to pay them.

    Here are five of the biggest fire sales of all time.

5) 2012 Boston Red Sox

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    After making the postseason for six out of seven years from 2003 until 2009 and after winning two World Series over that time, the Boston Red Sox began to struggle.

    As a big-market team, they were able to bring in expensive and talented players such as Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez.

    The Red Sox struggled again in 2012, and during the season they decided to have a small fire sale. The Red Sox found a willing suitor in the Los Angeles Dodgers, and they were able to trade away the huge contracts of Crawford and Gonzalez as well as Josh Beckett and Nick Punto.

    It will be interesting to see how Boston proceeds in the future when it comes to giving players big contracts.

4) 2012 Miami Marlins

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    With a new ballpark opening up in Miami, there was a lot of excitement surrounding the Marlins following the 2011 season. They signed top free agents such as Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell to turn the team into a contender.

    When the high-paid team did not manage to be in contention by midseason, it was time for the Marlins to make a change.

    During the regular season the Marlins traded away star third baseman Hanley Ramirez and reliever Edward Mujica in separate deals. They also dealt starter Anibal Sanchez and second baseman Omar Infante in July.

    In October, Miami traded away one of its high-priced free agents, Heath Bell, in a three-team deal. Just over a month later, the Marlins traded away their two other major free-agent signings, Reyes and Buehrle, to the Toronto Blue Jays in a deal that could only be described as shocking. Also involved in that trade was Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck (according to Ben Strauss of the New York Times, the trade is still pending, and it is currently being reviewed by commissioner Bud Selig).

3) 1975-76 Oakland Athletics

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    During the 1975 season the Oakland Athletics won their division and were led by the talented Reggie Jackson. He was an All-Star that season and was coming off his third-straight year of finishing in the top five of the American League MVP voting.

    The team struggled in the playoffs and lost in its first series against the Boston Red Sox. Before the next season started, Jackson and Ken Holtzman, who was coming off an 18-win year, were traded away to the Baltimore Orioles.

    When the Athletics did not live up to expectations during the '76 season, owner Charlie Finley tried to sell ace Vida Blue, closer Rollie Fingers and left fielder Joe Rudi for a sum of $3.5 million (h/t Peter Gammons of ESPN). The sales were voided three days later by commissioner Bowie Kuhn, and the players stayed with the Athletics for the full season.

2) 1997 Florida Marlins

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    Just five years after the Florida Marlins became an MLB franchise, they won their first World Series title in 1997. The celebration did not last long, however, as the team went into fire-sale mode that offseason.

    Al Leiter, Robb Nen, Moises Alou, Kevin Brown, Jeff Conine and Devon White were all shipped out of Miami after the championship. All of these players played an integral role in the Marlins' victory, and none lasted the offseason.

    During the 1998 season, the fire sale continued as the Marlins traded away the first draft pick in franchise history, Charles Johnson, as well as Bobby Bonilla, Gary Sheffield, Manuel Barrios and Jim Eisenreich for Mike Piazza and Todd Zeile.

    This would not have been a bad move, but the Marlins then quickly flipped Piazza to the New York Mets and then dealt Zeile later that summer.

1) 1914 Philadelphia Athletics

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    The 1914 Philadelphia Athletics represented the American League in the World Series after winning 99 games during the regular season.

    After such a successful year, it appeared as if the Athletics could return to the World Series again the following year. However, Connie Mack sold a number of the team's top players that offseason.

    Four of the players that Mack sold would go on to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Second baseman Eddie Collins was sold to the Chicago White Sox as he was entering his prime.

    Home Run Baker did not play at all in 1915 and then was purchased by the New York Yankees in time for the 1916 season.

    Star pitcher Chief Bender left the Athletics to go join the Baltimore Terrapins of the Federal League.

    The last Hall of Famer to leave that team was Eddie Plank. He decided to leave the A's to go to the St. Louis Terriers of the Federal League.

    Needless to say, the Athletics struggled the next season and were only able to win 43 games, which was stunning 56-game difference.