Miami Marlins: The 7 Worst Moves in Franchise History
Giancarlo Stanton, if you're reading this, you might find yourself on here someday.
Then again, after his "Alright, I'm pissed off!!! Plain & Simple" tweet nearly three weeks ago, he might enjoy making his way onto the long list of the worst moves in Miami Marlins history—which, barring injury, might be a trade out of Miami after the 2014 season, when he will probably earn an eight-figure salary during his second go-round in the arbitration process.
Let's face it, unless Stanton
is traded or granted free agency signs a franchise-altering 15-year extension with a full no-trade clause, Stanton and every talented Marlin after him will always be one move away from the next blockbuster fire sale.
And to imagine, the Marlins have won more World Series championships (1997 and 2003) in their 20 years of existence than 11 franchises. How is that possible?
Anyway, without further ado, in descending order, here are the seven worst moves in Miami Marlins history.
A Not-So-Booty-Licious Draft Pick
Josh Booty idolized John Elway.
The Marlins, however, were foolish enough to think that throwing gobs of dollar bills would entice Booty to give up his dream of emulating Elway's NFL Hall of Fame career one day. But at the same time, Booty took the money instead of going to LSU to be a two-sport star.
On June 2, 1994, the Marlins drafted Booty, a shortstop from Evangel Christian High School (La.), with the fifth overall pick in the 1994 amateur draft. While the players drafted ahead of Booty (in order: Paul Wilson, Ben Grieve, Dustin Hermanson and Antone Williamson) were no great shakes, the Marlins passed on luminaries such as shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, first baseman Paul Konerko and catcher Jason Varitek.
To make matters worse, the Marlins persuaded Booty to play baseball by giving him a $1.6 million signing bonus, the largest handed out to a drafted player at the time.
By 1997, though, Booty tried to get out of the "baseball only" clause in his contract to go to LSU, but the Marlins would only allow it if Booty paid back the signing bonus. He nearly got his wish.
According to a Jan. 25, 1998 New York Times article (subscription required), Booty and the Marlins came to an agreement where Booty would repay $1 million of the signing bonus, the Marlins would then trade him for $600,000 to another team that would allow him to play football, and if Booty chose football over baseball, Booty would repay his new club the $600,000. Although there were a couple of suitors, a trade never materialized.
A year later, the Marlins allowed Booty to skip the final year of his contract to play football at LSU.
Booty finished his baseball career with a .269 batting average in 26 at-bats at the major league level, while he hit .198 with 62 home runs and 252 RBIs in five seasons toiling in the minor leagues.
The Phone Rang, but He Didn't Answer the Call Properly
Of the three All-Stars the Marlins signed during their 2011-12 offseason spending splurge, Heath Bell was the first to ink a deal with the club.
It's only fitting he was the first to leave.
Less than a year after Bell put his John Hancock onto a three-year, $27 million contract to become the Marlins' closer, he was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-team deal.
In addition to Bell, the Marlins will send $4 million each in 2013 and 2014 to help pay for Bell's deal, and in return, the Marlins received 22-year-old minor leaguer Yordy Cabrera from Oakland. In three seasons, Cabrera has batted .230 with nine home runs and 68 RBIs in 595 at-bats, none of which has been higher than at the Single A level.
The other moving parts in the deal include Oakland shipping infielder Cliff Pennington to Arizona for center fielder Chris Young and cash.
When Bell signed with the Marlins, he was expected to take over the closer role for Juan Carlos Oviedo (the artist formerly known as Leo Nunez) and anchor the team's bullpen. Instead, Bell struggled, was demoted from the closer role on multiple occasions and was critical of manager Ozzie Guillen, who was fired days after Bell was dealt to the Diamondbacks.
Bell did not get off to a good start as he blew his first two save opportunities. On May 5, a day after he blew a save for the fourth time in seven chances, Bell was demoted. At the time, he sported a 0-3 record with a 11.42 earned run average in 11 appearances. Furthermore, he yielded 15 hits, 10 walks and had just six strikeouts in eight and two-thirds innings.
Two weeks later, though, Bell had regained the closer role. Despite some rocky moments that followed, the three-time All-Star righted the ship with 14 saves and a 3.57 ERA during a 20-game stretch from mid-May to July 1. But then came the week leading up to the All-Star break.
On July 3, the Marlins erased a seven-run deficit and took the lead in the 10th inning against the Milwaukee Brewers. But all that hard work went to waste when Aramis Ramirez blasted a walk-off two-run home run off Bell. Afterwards, Guillen unleashed the following tirade (per the Miami Herald):
Make sure Miami people don't (expletive) Bell. Bell gave up two runs. How about the rest of the (expletives) 10 or 12 runs they scored? That's why this (expletive) game is not (expletive) fair.
It's Ozzie talking (expletive)? No. It's Ozzie talking the truth, about how (expletive) we were before that (expletive) inning. Put that (expletive) down!
Then, in the final game before the All-Star break, Bell blew his sixth save in 25 chances as Rafael Furcal hit a walk-off two-run single with the bases loaded in St. Louis' 5-4 win.
Bell finished the first half with a 2-5 record and a 6.75 ERA. Despite pitching more effectively in the second half of the season, Bell didn't accumulate another save as he was removed from the closer role.
What Bell did do before he was traded was assess Guillen during a radio interview on "The Dan Sileo Show" on 560 WQAM in Miami (via ESPN), saying, "It's hard to respect a guy that doesn't tell you the truth or doesn't tell you face-to-face. There's probably reasons why."
Bell attempted to clarify his comments the next day during an interview with MLB Network Radio (also via ESPN): "I was never criticizing Ozzie. I don't think that's what I was doing on the radio. I was choosing my words kind of right. Apparently, I didn't get it too right, but the thing is I respect Ozzie as a manager."
When Guillen was asked about Bell's comments, Guillen said Bell was entitled to his opinion. Guillen also added he thought Bell had not accepted responsibility for his poor performance.
"It was my turn this week," Guillen said (via Fox News Latino). "Last week, it was the pitching coach. The week before, it was his teammates. Every week it's something. That's why I don't respect him as a person. You have to have principles."
The Marlins could've avoided the disastrous signing if they had considered a multitude of factors.
For instance, Bell might have been a product of Petco Park, the San Diego Padres' ballpark renown for transforming average pitchers into All-Stars. Consider the following:
- Bell's career at Petco Park: 22-10 record, 2.42 ERA, 61 saves. In 201 innings pitched, he allowed 147 hits, 54 earned runs, 10 home runs, 70 walks, and struck out 200 batters.
- Bell's career away from Petco Park: 10-19 record, 3.81 ERA, 92 saves. In 344 and two-thirds innings pitched, he allowed 339 hits, 146 earned runs, 25 home runs, 120 walks, and struck out 353 batters.
Meanwhile, the Marlins could've looked at cheaper, possibly better alternatives in the free agent market.
The Tampa Bay Rays accomplished this feat when they found Fernando Rodney for two years at $4.25 million. All Rodney did was post a 2-2 record with a minuscule 0.60 ERA and notch 48 saves.
If the Marlins wanted a closer with a proven track record similar to Bell's, they could've nabbed Joe Nathan or Jonathon Broxton.
Nathan signed a two-year, $14.5 million deal with Texas, and the four-time All-Star rewarded the Rangers with a 3-5 record, 2.80 ERA and 37 saves. Broxton signed a one-year, $4 million contract with Kansas City and was traded to Cincinnati at the trade deadline. The two-time All-Star went 4-5 with a 2.48 ERA and 27 saves with the two clubs.
While some might say Rodney was unproven and Nathan and Broxton were returning from arm injuries that required surgery, they were better alternatives than Bell because they signed shorter deals with lower average annual salaries at a position where long-term deals are risky.
Moreover, it seemed as though everyone in the Marlins' front office, with the exception of owner Jeffrey Loria, agreed Bell wasn't the best signing, according to an August column from the Sun-Sentinel's Dave Hyde:
There was tepid interest in Bell by the Marlins baseball people. Loria decided there was complete interest to the point he negotiated the $27 million deal that looks as silly to everyone now as it did to Marlins baseball people when it was presented.
The Managerial Musical Chairs Game
Speaking of Loria, Hyde also said it was Loria's idea to hire Joe Girardi as manager against his baseball people's wishes after Jack McKeon retired after the 2005 season.
On the field, it seemed Loria made the right decision as the Marlins exceeded expectations with a 78-84 record, and Girardi became the first person with a losing record to win the National League's Manager of the Year award after the franchise's second fire sale.
Off the field, however, it was a disaster between Girardi and the Marlins front office, and Girardi was fired after the 2006 season.
Girardi's dismissal has turned into a game of musical chairs when it comes to the Marlins managerial position. When the 2013 season begins, the Marlins will be on its seventh manager in eight seasons after Mike Redmond was hired to replace Ozzie Guillen, who was fired after one season thanks to a disappointing 69-93 record in 2012.
Issues between Girardi and Loria surfaced during an Aug. 6 home loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. According to reports, Girardi didn't leave the dugout to question home plate umpire Larry Vanover when two borderline pitches by Marlins reliever Taylor Tankersley were called balls. Loria, sitting in the stands next to the dugout, yelled at Vanover, prompting Girardi to turn and ask Loria to stop yelling.
Immediately following the game, Loria, Girardi, team president David Samson and general manager Larry Beinfest had what two sources told the Palm Beach Post was a heated discussion. That was followed by a 90-minute team meeting, which Girardi described as a "learning session" rather than a scolding or pep talk, and players described his tone as positive (via ESPN).
At one point, team employees started setting up an interview room for a press conference—the same room where the team has announced managerial changes in the past. The news conference was never held.
Two months later, Girardi was fired.
However, what Girardi accomplished was beyond what anyone could've imagined. After starting 11-31, the Marlins won 62 of their next 102 games to pull to within two games of the San Diego Padres in the wild-card race. But the Marlins lost 13 of their last 18 games to fall out of contention.
Nonetheless, the Marlins became the first team to climb above .500 from 20 games under, the first team to have four rookie pitchers win 10 games, and they set a record for most home runs by rookies with 112.
Girardi's club was able to accomplish all this despite playing 22 rookies and a $15 million opening day payroll, the lowest in the major leagues by more than $20 million.
After McKeon retired, the Marlins allowed starting pitcher A.J. Burnett, outfielder Juan Encarnacion, shortstop Alex Gonzalez and closer Todd Jones to hit free agency, and traded first baseman Carlos Delgado, starting pitcher Josh Beckett, third baseman Mike Lowell, second baseman Luis Castillo, catcher Paul Lo Duca and center fielder Juan Pierre in five separate deals that netted the Marlins infielder Hanley Ramirez, and starting pitchers Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez.
Fredi Gonzalez was chosen to replace Girardi, and Gonzalez went 276-279 in three-plus seasons before he was fired in June 2010. Loria, who declared his playoffs-or-bust expectations for his team that spring training, announced he decided to change managers after 70 games, saying "we can do better and be better" (via ESPN).
Gonzalez added his dismissal was not connected to his run-in earlier that season with Ramirez. Ramirez criticized Gonzalez to the media after Gonzalez pulled Ramirez from a game for failing to hustle after a ball he booted. Ramirez sat out the next game, but later apologized.
Gonzalez added, "This is something that I want to make very clear: My exit from the Marlins had nothing to do with Hanley. The situation with Hanley had to do with them—the Marlins. They wanted to make a change to move in another direction."
Edwin Rodriguez replaced Gonzalez, and Rodriguez went 78-85 before he unexpectedly resigned as the Marlins were mired in a 1-17 June at the time of his resignation. Brandon Hyde managed the Marlins for one game before McKeon returned to finish out the 2011 season.
Guillen was given a team-record $10 million, four-year deal to not only be the Marlins manager, but he was chosen as the man to lead the franchise into their new stadium. However, he was fired Oct. 23.
The Guillen era unraveled quickly when he praised Cuban dictator Fidel Castro in a magazine interview, which angered Cuban Americans, who make up a large segment of the Marlins' fan base. Guillen, a Venezuelan, apologized repeatedly at a news conference and then served a five-game suspension five games into his tenure.
On the field, the Marlins finished last in the National League East and their 69-93 record was the franchise's worst since 1999.
Miggy Takes the D-Train to Mo-Town
The Marlins have completed so many fire sale trades over the past 15 years, they could probably field a 25-man roster worthy enough of winning a World Series title. Possibly multiple World Series titles.
But of all the players the Marlins have dealt away, the one that might hurt the most involves Miguel Cabrera.
On Dec. 4, 2007, the Marlins traded Cabrera and left-hander Dontrelle Willis to the Detroit Tigers for two highly rated prospects: left-hander Andrew Miller and outfielder Cameron Maybin. The Marlins also received catcher Mike Rabelo and right-handers Burke Badenhop, Eulogio De La Cruz and Dallas Trahern in the eight-player deal.
Cabrera made $7.4 million, and Willis earned $6.45 million during the 2007 season. Both players were eligible for arbitration and were likely to receive raises. Without a new ballpark, they were traded.
"We received some terrific players in this trade, and we're confident they will make a positive impact," Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria said in a statement (via Washington Post). "Although we cannot ignore the economic realities we face, which will change the moment we are in a new facility, our determination to win on the field remains as steadfast as ever."
Willis flamed out and was out of baseball after the 2011 season, but Cabrera has kept on chugging.
Since arriving in Detroit, Cabrera has finished in the top five of the Most Valuable Player award voting for four consecutive years, was named to three All-Star teams and won two Silver Slugger awards and two American League batting titles.
In 2012, Cabrera led the Tigers to the World Series, where they were swept by the San Francisco Giants, and was named league MVP after becoming the first Triple Crown winner since Boston's Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.
Also during his five-year tenure with the Tigers, Cabrera has ranked in the top 10 in some of the following categories:
- First in runs batted in with 600.
- Second to Joe Mauer with a .323 batting average.
- Second to Albert Pujols with 183 home runs, .579 slugging percentage and .980 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage).
- Second to Ichiro with 960 hits.
- Fourth in runs scored with 512.
- Tied seventh with Ben Zobrist in WAR (Wins Above Replacement level) at 27.3.
Throw in Cabrera's career marks in his five years with the Marlins (.313 batting average, 138 home runs, 523 RBIs) and accomplishments (four All-Star Game selections, two Silver Slugger awards and two top five MVP award finishes), and it seems the Marlins traded away a future Hall of Famer who has yet to hit 30 years old.
Moreover, the players the Marlins received for Cabrera have not come close to replacing Cabrera's production.
- Miller went 10-20 with a 5.89 ERA in three seasons with the Marlins. He was traded to the Boston Red Sox for Dustin Richardson.
- Maybin batted .257 with 12 home runs and 43 RBIs in 144 games over three seasons with the Marlins. He was traded to the San Diego Padres for Edward Mujica and Ryan Webb.
- Badenhop was 13-15 with a 4.34 ERA in 151 appearances over four seasons with the Marlins. He was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays for minor leaguer Jake Jefferies.
- Rabelo lasted one season, in which he hit .202 with three home runs and 10 RBIs in 34 games in 2008. He has been out of baseball after the 2010 season.
- De La Cruz played the 2008 season with the Marlins, allowing 18 earned runs in nine innings pitched for an 18.00 ERA in six appearances. His contract was purchased by the Padres before the 2009 season. Two weeks ago, he signed with the Milwaukee Brewers organization.
- Trahern never saw a day at the Major League level and is now out of baseball.
The Prince That Got Away
Four years after they traded away Cabrera, the Marlins had the opportunity to right a wrong when they came within one sticking point away from snagging a future Hall of Famer still in his prime off the free agent market.
That man was first baseman Albert Pujols.
The snag, though, was a no-trade clause. Prince Albert wanted it. The Marlins have a strict policy against it.
The Marlins had already signed closer Heath Bell to a three-year deal worth $27 million and shortstop Jose Reyes to a six-year pact for $106 million, but the Fish had their sights on Pujols, the biggest prize of all. Before Thanksgiving, the Marlins met with Pujols and made him a nine-year offer worth less than the St. Louis Cardinals' nine-year, $198 million extension Pujols rejected the previous offseason. But once Reyes was in the bag, the Marlins increased their offer substantially.
A USA Today report said Miami presented Prince Albert with a 10-year deal worth $275 million. However, Marlins president David Samson refuted the claim and said the Marlins' offer was for 10 years and "a hair" over $200 million.
Nonetheless, one condition Pujols wanted in any deal was a no-trade clause, which the Marlins refused to include. Once a report was leaked that Mark Buehrle agreed to a four-year, $58 million contract with the Marlins, they withdrew their offer to Prince Albert.
Then, on Dec. 8, 2011, Pujols signed a 10-year, $254 million deal with the Angels, the second-richest contract in baseball history and the third to break the $200 million barrier.
Some will argue giving any 31-year-old a 10-year deal is not a good idea, and that might very well be the case. However, this was more than just the signing of a talented player.
Not only did the Marlins have the chance to sign a baseball legend, they could've rebuilt their reputation as a franchise willing to spend money—wisely—in order to win, which is something the industry hadn't seen since the 1996-97 offseason. And yet, the Marlins passed.
Here's what the Marlins would've gotten from Pujols at the time if they had signed him:
- Two-time World Series champion (2006 and 2011).
- Three-time National League Most Valuable Player (2005, 2008 and 2009).
- Nine-time All-Star (2001, 2003-10).
- Six-time Silver Slugger award winner (2001, 2003-04 and 2008-10).
- Two-time Gold Glove award winner (2006 and 2010).
- 2001 NL Rookie of the Year.
- Led the NL in WAR (Wins Above Replacement) for five consecutive years from 2005-09. His 83.9 WAR from 2001-11 was the highest during that span, topping Alex Rodriguez's 72.6.
- Led the NL in runs scored five times (2003-05 and 2009-10). His 1,291 runs scored from 2001-11 was the most during that span, topping Alex Rodriguez's 1,197.
- Led the NL in hits in 2003 with 212. His 2,073 hits from 2001-11 was third to Ichiro and Derek Jeter.
- Led the NL in slugging percentage and OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) three times (2006, 2008-09) and was in the top 10 every year since 2001.
- Led the NL in on-base percentage in 2009 at a .443 clip. His .420 OBP from 2001-11 was fourth, behind Barry Bonds, Todd Helton and Larry Walker.
- After hitting .299 with 37 home runs and 99 RBIs in 2011, it was the only season to date Pujols had not hit above .300 or drive in 100 runs.
- In his first 11 years, he hit .328 with 445 home runs and 1,329 runs batted in, which would've been good for a Triple Crown during that span.
That is what the Marlins allowed to slip away from their grasp.
Everything Must Go ... Again!
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.
The Fire Sale That Started It All
Of course, the Marlins probably wouldn't be in the situation they are in today if the first fire sale hadn't occurred 15 years ago.
Shortly after Craig Counsell leaped joyously onto home plate on Edgar Renteria's walk-off single, then-Marlins owner Wayne Huizenga ordered a fire sale of the 1997 World Series championship team before players and coaches had a chance to dry off from spraying champagne on each other and the victory cigar smoke had cleared the air.
Huizenga's motive was simple. After spending $89 million on free agent signings in the offseason, he claimed to have lost $34 million running the team that year and wanted to cut payroll from $54 million in an effort to sell the club. The only way Huizenga said he would keep the franchise is if taxpayers build him and the Marlins a new retractable roof stadium.
Sounds familiar, right?
Two weeks after hoisting the championship trophy, the first domino fell when Moises Alou and his five-year, $25 million contract was shipped to the Houston Astros on Nov. 11, 1997.
A week later, the Marlins completed three more trades. Two days after that, two more trades were consummated. Less than a month later, three more Marlins in three separate trades found new homes before Christmas.
At the rate then-general manager Dave Dombrowski traded his assets, he was busier than a handful of day traders on Wall Street.
Below are just some of the trades related to the 1997 fire sale:
- November 11, 1997: Traded Alou to the Houston Astros. Received a player to be named later, Manuel Barrios and Oscar Henriquez. The Houston Astros sent Mark Johnson to the Florida Marlins to complete the trade.
- November 18, 1997: Traded Devon White to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Received Jesus Martinez. Traded Robb Nen to the San Francisco Giants. Received Mike Pageler, Mike Villano and Joe Fontenot.
- November 20, 1997: Traded Jeff Conine to the Kansas City Royals. Received Blaine Mull. Traded Ed Vosberg to the San Diego Padres. Received Chris Clark.
- December 15, 1997: Traded Kevin Brown to the San Diego Padres. Received Steve Hoff, Derrek Lee and Rafael Medina.
- December 18, 1997: Traded Dennis Cook to the New York Mets. Received Fletcher Bates and Scott Comer.
- December 19, 1997: Traded Kurt Abbott to the Oakland Athletics. Received Eric Ludwick.
- February 6, 1998: Traded Al Leiter and Ralph Milliard to the New York Mets. Received Robert Stratton, A.J. Burnett and Jesus Sanchez.
- May 14, 1998: Traded Manuel Barrios, Bobby Bonilla, Jim Eisenreich, Charles Johnson and Gary Sheffield to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Received Mike Piazza and Todd Zeile.
- May 22, 1998: Traded Mike Piazza to the New York Mets. Received Geoff Goetz, Preston Wilson and Ed Yarnall.
- July 4, 1998: Traded Scott Makarewicz and Jay Powell to the Houston Astros. Received Ramon Castro.
- July 31, 1998: Traded Todd Zeile to the Texas Rangers. Received Daniel DeYoung and Jose Santo. Traded Steve Hoff and Felix Heredia to the Chicago Cubs. Received Todd Noel, Kevin Orie and Justin Speier.
- December 14, 1998: Traded Edgar Renteria to the St. Louis Cardinals. Received Armando Almanza, Braden Looper and Pablo Ozuna.
- December 23, 1998: Sent Gregg Zaun to the Texas Rangers as part of a conditional deal.
- February 1, 1999: Traded Todd Noel, Mark Johnson and Ed Yarnall to the New York Yankees. Received Mike Lowell.
- June 15, 1999: Traded Craig Counsell to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Received a player to be named later. The Los Angeles Dodgers sent Ryan Moskau to the Florida Marlins to complete the trade.
- July 25, 1999: Traded Livan Hernandez to the San Francisco Giants. Received Nate Bump and Jason Grilli.
- March 27, 2002: Traded Antonio Alfonseca and Matt Clement to the Chicago Cubs. Received Jose Cueto, Ryan Jorgensen, Julian Tavarez and Dontrelle Willis.
- July 11, 2002: Traded Cliff Floyd, Wilton Guerrero, Claudio Vargas and cash to the Montreal Expos. Received a player to be named later, Graeme Lloyd, Mike Mordecai, Carl Pavano and Justin Wayne. The Montreal Expos sent Donald Levinski to the Florida Marlins to complete the trade.
- November 16, 2002: Traded Vic Darensbourg, Charles Johnson, Pablo Ozuna and Preston Wilson to the Colorado Rockies. Received Mike Hampton, Juan Pierre and cash.
*Marlin who was on 1997 World Series roster
*Player whom Marlins acquired before being traded away in a different highly publicized trade
*Marlin who was on 2003 spring training roster, which won the World Series that year
When the dust finally cleared, 18 of the 25 Marlins who were on the 1997 World Series roster were traded by the end of the 20th century, and three more were traded in 2002. The four players whom the Marlins didn't relocate were Darren Daulton, Tony Saunders, Alex Arias and John Cangelosi.
Some of the trades worked out. However, many didn't.
But one thing is for certain, the 1997 fire sale was the impetus to the seven worst moves in Marlins history.