This was the fire sale trade that destroyed the trust between the Marlins and their fans, the people of Miami, local government officials and the game of baseball.
Yet, it's only the second worst move in franchise history.
On Nov. 19, the Marlins saved $146.5 million in future payroll obligations by sending shortstop Jose Reyes, starting pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, catcher John Buck, Emilio Bonifacio and $8.5 million in cash to the Toronto Blue Jays for shortstop Yunel Escobar, catcher Jeff Mathis, starting pitcher Henderson Alvarez, infielder Adeiny Hechevarria, and minor leaguers Anthony DeSclafani, Jake Marisnick and Justin Nicolino.
The Marlins pulled the trigger on this blockbuster months after they moved into a new stadium built with taxpayer money.
This deal, though, was months in the making.
After beginning the season 8-14, the Marlins won 23 of their next 32 games to improve to 31-23 and claim a share of the National League East lead on June 3.
But then the bottom fell out as the Marlins lost 17 of their next 20 games to fall to last place in the division, nine games behind the Washington Nationals. The Marlins never recovered as they finished in the cellar with a 69-93 record.
Shortly after falling out of contention, the Marlins cleaned house.
On July 23, the Fish traded starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez and second baseman Omar Infante to the Detroit Tigers for prized right-hander Jacob Turner (the ninth overall pick in the 2009 draft), catcher Rob Brantly and left-hander Brian Flynn. The teams will also swap 2013 draft picks.
That trade was just an appetizer for what was to come.
Two days later, the Marlins dealt three-time All-Star Hanley Ramirez and left-handed relief pitcher Randy Choate to the Los Angeles Dodgers for right-hander Nathan Eovaldi and minor league Scott McGough.
At the trade deadline, the Marlins also shipped relief pitcher Edward Mujica to the St. Louis Cardinals and struggling first baseman Gaby Sanchez to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
When the season ended, the club dealt Heath Bell to the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-team trade, fired manager Ozzie Guillen, and then came the shocker of all shockers—which reduced the Marlins to a rubble.
The only notable names who were with the Marlins when the club opened spring training nine months ago are Giancarlo Stanton, Ricky Nolasco and Logan Morrison. Don't be surprised if Nolasco is traded as he's due $11.5 million in 2013 in the last year of his three-year, $26.5 million deal. Meanwhile, Stanton and Morrison aren't eligible for arbitration until after next season.
The fire sale was bad enough, but the impact of the move(s) reverberated throughout the city as well as baseball.
"Alright, I'm pissed off!!! Plain & Simple," Stanton tweeted after learning about the blockbuster trade with Toronto.
A week later, Buehrle spoke out about being dealt after just one season.
"I'm upset with how things turned out in Miami," Buehrle said in a statement issued through his agent, Jeff Berry (via ESPN). "Just like the fans in South Florida, I was lied to on multiple occasions. But I'm putting it behind me and looking forward to moving on with my career."
When Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig approved the trade, Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest admitted other free agents might now be reluctant to sign with the Marlins (via ESPN):
It'll be a factor. I don't think we're happy about this at all. I understand there may be some disdain in the marketplace. We won't know until we get into those negotiations with free agents. It's definitely not great for the club, and we're going to have to deal with it.
However, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria defended his decision to clear the decks less than a year after spending boatloads of cash. He said dumping veterans was the right move based on how the season unfolded (via CBSSports.com):
We have to get better. We can't finish in last place. We finished in last place. That's unacceptable. We have to take a new course.'
Those scars will heal. After all, it's a business and most agents' No. 1 prerogative is to find clients the richest contract possible. But the wound that might never heal is the public's trust in the Marlins.
After spending years pleading for a state-of-the-art retractable roof ballpark because only the revenue from it could save them, Loria finally got his wish in 2008 when funding for the stadium was approved. But with the money came an unwritten understanding that Loria and the Marlins will spend more money to field competitive teams.
Now, the city is left with a team it could barely recognize, let alone make out in a police lineup. City commissioner Mark Sarnoff said (per SI.com, via the Associated Press):
Everybody in the world wants to talk about the Marlins and the fact they're now a Triple-A team. The Marlins have lost pretty much all credibility with fans. Even if this trade is a positive move from a baseball standpoint, it won't be viewed by the general public as a positive move.
And to make matters worse, Loria is going to profit from this fire sale—one way or another—even if the Marlins do not draw a single fan into their home.
For starters, Loria agreed to pay just $125.2 million of the stadium's $634 million in construction costs. Meanwhile, the county spent $376.3 million while the city was responsible for four parking garages at $132.5 million.
The Marlins also received a $35 million interest-free loan from the county that it will pay back through yearly rent beginning at about $2.3 million and increasing 2 percent each year. Furthermore, multiple reports said the bonds issued to cover the cost of the project will amount to $2.4 billion when it is paid off in 40 years.
The Marlins also get to keep all revenue from ticket sales, concessions, suites, advertising, parking and naming rights, while the city receives about $5 million per year from parking space rental to help pay off the construction bonds.
And if Loria decides he wants to sell the club, he could reap a huge financial windfall with that route as well. According to ESPN.com's Darren Rovell, if Loria sold the team, he would owe the local governments 10 percent of the difference between what he would sell the team for and a predetermined price of $250 million.
According to Forbes Magazine, the Marlins were valued at $450 million in March. If Loria sold the Marlins for that same amount, he would only have to pay the city and county governments $20 million each from the $200 million difference.
Oh, and have we mentioned the the Securities and Exchange Commission has subpoenaed the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County for financial information about the bond sale used to finance the stadium to determine if there were any violations of federal securities laws?
What a mess of a fire sale.