They went from all-in to “trying to get back as much talent as possible” following a 34-38 start to the 2012 season.
The Miami Marlins made nine trades, waving goodbye to 13 players who were in uniform the night their new ballpark opened in Little Havana.
They shipped off two batting champions, two pitchers with no-hitters on their résumés, eight All-Stars, a former first-round pick and their all-time wins leader in a span of 368 days — from one July through the next. In exchange, Miami received two established major-leaguers (one has since retired), five players whose big-league careers were just getting off the ground, and 11 minor-league prospects.
Heading into the final stretch of what probably will end in the franchise’s second 100-loss season, the Marlins are filling their ballpark to only 51.5 percent capacity on average during home games (27th out of 30 and worst in the National League). Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria said in February the franchise’s makeover was simply “pushing the restart button … a chance to get young players in and see where the franchise is in another year or so.”
So where are the Marlins today? “We’re excited about the future,” general manager Mike Hill said on the night 21-year-old ace Jose Fernandez pitched his final game of what probably will be a Rookie of the Year season.
Of course, Hill and Beinfest might not be part of the Marlins’ future at all. ESPN baseball analyst Tim Kurkjian believes the Marlins’ venture into the offseason likely won’t include the current front office, which, despite trading away one of the 10 greatest hitters of all time in Miguel Cabrera a few years ago without much at all to show for it, “has done a pretty nice job bringing talented players back in.”
“It’s hard to say they’re going in the right direction when they’re 40 games under .500 and headed for 100 losses and 34 games out of first place and been outscored by 132 runs,” Kurkjian said. “It’s hard to find something positive out of that and yet Jose Fernandez is one of the best young pitchers in the game. [Marcell] Ozuna kind of came out of nowhere, at least for me. It looks like Christian Yelich has a chance to be a pretty good player. Jake Marisnick has really struggled, but all indications are he’s going to be a good player. With Giancarlo Stanton, it looks like they have the makings of a great outfield.
“They just have to develop a few more pitchers, like every other organization, and they have to find some other players. They have to find a third baseman, second baseman and first baseman probably, maybe a catcher who can hit a little bit more, and those are big, big tasks. So as you look forward at the Marlins, you have to ask yourself if they’re going to go out and spend a little bit of money and see if they can bring some complementary pieces to all these young players they’ve brought up and are starting to develop, which is encouraging. But 100 losses is 100 losses and even though you’re going in the right direction with it, it’s tough to take.”
When teams trade veterans for young players or prospects, it usually takes a while to determine the wisdom of those deals. But the Marlins now have a sense of the value they netted. Here’s a look at those deals and what they’ve amounted to so far: