On Tuesday, the Miami Marlins franchise sunk to a new all-time low when they traded every single player earning any kind of money to the Toronto Blue Jays for a handful of prospects, a homophobic defensive wizard, and…um…well, that’s it.
Of course, fans of the Marlins had grown used to the team’s so-called “fire-sales,” and to a certain extent they didn’t even mind all that much given that, previously, such sales had come on the heels of a World Series Championship. But this time? No, it was just too much. The Marlins won just 69 games last year and finished in last place in the N.L. East. They opened a brand new stadium that was almost entirely publicly funded and promised that it would be a new era. Then things unraveled, and now the fans are left with nothing.
It really is shameful. Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is either an incompetent moron, or the world’s greatest living con artist.
In any case, in light of this new development, I thought today we would take a look at the 15 best players ever dumped by the Florida/Miami Marlins. The players will be ranked according to their career Wins Above Replacement (WAR)*, which is a stat that combines all of a player’s contributions—defense, offense, baserunning, etc.—into one number. This stat isn’t an exact measurement of a player’s value, of course, but it’s a great place to start. And for our purposes here, it works just fine.
*Actually, what I’ve done is take their total WAR score and divide it by the number of years played so to get the average WAR per season.
So let’s get started, shall we?
We start off with an honorable mention to Giancarlo Stanton, the Marlins' best player over the last two years who surely will be traded by the Marlins and soon as he's actually making good money. You see, since Stanton in only 22 and has only been in the big leagues for three seasons, he's still making the league minimum. And last year he led the league in slugging percentage and hit 37 HRs, meaning he is perhaps the best value in all of baseball. So the Marlins aren't sending him anywhere...yet. Hence his infamous tweet.
Honorable Mention: Giancarlo Stanton
Ryan Dempster wasn't the pitcher he is today back when he was with the Marlins from 1998-2002. However, he did have one season with a 3.66 ERA and 226.1 innings pitched when he was 23 years old, so he showed promise. But the Marlins traded him to the Cubs for Juan Encarnacion.
15. Ryan Dempster
Renteria's WAR-per-season is brought down a bit by the fact that he played about 4 seasons longer than he should have. If you lop off those four years, he'd have a 2.40, which more accurately reflects his value throughout his career.
Of course, in Florida he'll always be remembered for his World Series-winning hit in 1997.
14. Edgar Renteria
The Marlins' trade with the Blue Jays got everyone buzzing this week, but of course, the fire sale actually began during the season. They traded the very solid, 28-year-old Anibal Sanchez (3.75 career ERA) to the Tigers at the trade deadline.
13. Anibal Sanchez
Leiter won two World Series with the Blue Jays before coming to Florida in 1996 at the age of 30, where he posted 2.93 ERA and finished 9th in Cy Young voting. Then he helped them win the Series in 1997 before getting shipped off to the Mets where he would have his greatest individual success—a 17-6, 2.47 ERA season in 1998 and and All-Star appearance in 2000.
12. Al Leiter
Lee was part of the post-World Series fire sale in 2003 and 2004. After playing a huge part in the Marlins' championship season, hitting .271/.379/.508 with 31 HRs, the Marlins shipped him off to the Cubs before they had to start paying him big money. Of course, it was with his Cubs that Lee has his best seasons, including a .335/.418/.662, 46 HR campaign in 2005.
11. Derrek Lee
Moises played just one season with the Marlins, and it was a good one: 1997. That year he hit .292/.373/.493 with 23 HRs, helping the Fish to their first World Series title. However, he was scheduled to make $5 million in 1998, which was decent money back then. So they shipped him off to Houston, where Moises had a ridiculous year in 2000 (.355/.416/.623 with 30 HRs).
10. Moises Alou
Beckett had a great year in 2003, and along with A.J. Burnett and Brad Penny he helped the Marlins win their second World Series title. The Marlins then kept him for a couple more years while his salary was still reasonable. Then they traded him to the Red Sox in 2005, and they gave him way more money than he deserved. (Though interestingly, his best season in the big leagues was by far 2011, the year of the epic Red Sox collapse and the fried chicken eating and beer drinking. He had a 2.89 ERA.)
9. Josh Beckett
Gary Sheffield is another player (like Renteria) who would have a higher average WAR total if he didn't play so long (until age 40). But what can I say? The guy wanted to earn every single penny of his ridiculous late-career contracts, and I can't exactly blame him.
In any case, Sheffield had two truly great seaons with the Marlins in 1995 and 1996. In fact, he led the league in OPS in '96 with 1.090. However, the Marlins didn't want to pay the premium price for him, so they trade him to the Dodgers.
Interestingly, they paid the guy $5 million just to waive his no trade clause—though I imagine that was eaten by the Dodgers.
8. Gary Sheffield
Jose Reyes's numbers simply do not live up to his reputation as a superstar. Oh sure, they're good: .291 career batting average, 410 stolen bases, 111 triples. But for a leadoff hitter he has a very pedestrian .342 career OBP. Still, as you can see by his average WAR, he's definitely way above average.
7. Jose Reyes
Josh Johnson has struggled with injuries a bit over the last few seasons, but there's no doubt that when he is healthy he is one of the top pitchers in the game. He's only got one season with at least 200 innings pitched (2009), but in 2010 he started 28 games and finished with a league-leading 2.30 ERA. Thus, the Marlins had to pay him $13.75 million in 2012, which is about $10 million more than they are comfortable with. So now Johnson is a Blue Jay.
6. Josh Johnson
Hanley Ramirez, like Anibal Sanchez, was traded away in the middle of 2012 as part of the pre-fire sale sale.
Now, Hanley has had two down years in a row—an injury plagued 2011 and failed comeback in 2012—but before that he was one of the best hitters in the game. Thus, his career BA is still .298, and his career OBP is still .271, despite those down years. Hopefully the Dodgers can provide a positive environment and some stability so that he can return to his former glory.
5. Hanley Ramirez
Mike Piazza only played 8 games in a Marlins uniform. He came over in the Gary Sheffield trade in 1998, stayed for a week, and then was flipped to the Mets. Most teams, of course, would have just worked out a three-way trade, but not the Marlins. Three-way trades require managerial skill, and they obviously don't have that.
Anyway, when the Marlins had Piazza he was at the top of his game. In 1997, he his .362/.431/.638 with 40 HRs for the Dodgers. If that wasn't the height of the steroid era he probably would have won the MVP award.
I wonder how many Piazza jerseys the Marlins sold during that one glorious week?
4. Mike Piazza
Mark Buehrle might be the most underappreciated pitcher in baseball. He's never really been a dominant shutdown-type guy, but he is consistent. Every year you can expect him to post a sub-four ERA and pitch at least 200 innings. Those aren't sexy stats, but they add up to wins, which is why he averaged 3.76 WAR per season. Assuming he still has some gas in the tank for his age 34 season, Buehrle will be a great help to a Toronto team that was basically using a whole staff of rookies by the end of last season.
3. Mark Buehrle
Kevin Brown is one of the best pitchers to never win a Cy Young. This due partly to the fact that everyone seems to think he was kind of a prick, and partly to the fact that the Cy Young voters used to be completely obsessed with win totals, as though the fact that a pitcher's team can't hit is somehow his fault. (Here I'm thinking of 1996, when Brown posted a ridiculous—RIDICULOUS—1.89 ERA with only .944 WHIP and 233 innings pitched, and yet lost the Cy Young to Smoltz and his 2.94 ERA. The reason? Smoltz was 24-8, Brown was 17-11.)
Anyway, the Marlins traded Brown to the Padres for Derrek Lee in 1998 (a pickup that led directly to their next WS championship), and Brown went on to become the highest paid pitcher in the history of baseball (at the time), making $15 million per year from 2000 to 2005 with the Dodgers and Yankees.
2. Kevin Brown
At just 20 years old, Miguel Cabrera helped the Marlins win the World Series in 2003 as a rookie. He batted .333/.394/.633 in the NLCS that year with 3 HRs and 6 RBI. From there he only got better: .879 OPS with 33 HRs in 2004, .947 OPS with 33 HRs in 2005, .998 OPS with 26 HRs in 2006, and .965 OPS with 38 HRs in 2007.
Obviously, then, the Marlins traded Cabrera after 2007, because he was going to be a superstar and demand a superstar contract. So they sent him to the Tigers for a bunch of prospects who didn't pan out at all. Not for the Marlins, anyway. They got Cameron Maybin from Detroit, who still may be a good major league player, but they sent him to the Padres for Edward Mujica, a good relief pitcher, in 2011. Then they traded Mujica to the Cardinals in 2012 for another prospect who probably won't work out.
So in other words, they Marlins got almost nothing for the best player who's ever played for them. That pretty much sums it all up, doesn't it?
1. Miguel Cabrera
Florida Marlins, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, miami marlins, MLB, toronto blue jays,