The Marlins have had some truly All-Star fire sales over the last 20 years, starting with the original flushing of finances and talent after the one-season wonder 1997 World Series champions.
Few franchises over the last 20 years can boast that they’ve sent so many good players away because they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) pay big for that big-time player. As far as true mass salary dumps, there was the one after the 1997 World Series title; the one in 2005, two seasons after the 2003 World Series title; the 2012 one that aborted the excitement over brand new Marlins Park; and the current one as new ownership slashes payroll like some financial Red Wedding.
Here are the Miami Herald’s selections for the Marlins salary dump All-Star team.
▪ Catcher Mike Piazza: The Hall of Fame catcher’s résumé includes five Marlins games in which he went five for 18 with five RBI. That covers the eight days in May 1998 between the Marlins getting Piazza and pitcher Todd Zeile from the Dodgers for Bobby Bonilla, Charles Johnson, Gary Sheffield, Jim Eisenreich and Manuel Barrios; and the Marlins flipping Piazza to the Mets for minor leaguer Geoff Goetz, Preston Wilson and Ed Yarnall.
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▪ First base, Derrek Lee: Lee came to the Marlins with minor leaguer Steve Hoff and Rafael Medina as part of the post-1997 championship purge that got rid of pitcher Kevin Brown. He was hitting his stride as a hitter, pounding 31 home runs with a .278 batting average for the 2003 World Series winners, when the Marlins sent him to Cubs for minor leaguer Mike Nannini and Hee-Seop Choi. Lee led the National League in hitting two years later.
▪ Second base, Luis Castillo: Castillo led the league in stolen bases twice for the Marlins. After the 2005 season, the Marlins traded him to Minnesota for minor leaguer Scott Tyler and Travis Bowyer.
▪ Shortstop Hanley Ramirez: When the Marlins jettisoned Josh Beckett (see below), Mike Lowell and Guillermo Mota after 2005, they got Ramirez. He won Rookie of the Year in 2006 and was second in the National League MVP voting in 2009 before his 2012 trade to the Dodgers with Randy Choate for Nathan Eovaldi and Scott McGough.
▪ Third base Miguel Cabrera: In the last 50 years, there have been 49 World Series, eight “Star Wars” movies, four horse racing Triple Crown winners and one winner of baseball’s Triple Crown — leading the league in batting average, home runs and RBI: Cabrera. And he did it for Detroit in 2012 after the Marlins sent him there in 2007 with Dontrelle Willis for minor leaguer Dallas Trahern, Burke Badenhop, Frankie De La Cruz, Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller and Mike Rabelo.
▪ Outfielder Giancarlo Stanton: Not often the reigning MVP gets traded.
▪ Outfielder Gary Sheffield: Sheffield flirted with the Triple Crown while with San Diego in 1992. A year later, the Marlins traded for him in June of their first season. He went to the Dodgers in that May 1998 trade that brought Piazza to the Marlins for a minute. Sheffield played another 11 1/2 years for the Dodgers, Atlanta, Yankees, Detroit and the Mets.
▪ Outfielder Moises Alou: Before stomping like a baby as a Chicago Cub when he felt Steve Bartman interfered with catching a foul ball in the 2003 National League championship series against the Marlins, Alou had a good regular season and a very good World Series during his lone season with the Marlins in 1997. A few weeks after the Series, the Marlins traded Alou to Houston for Manuel Barrios, Oscar Henriquez and a player to be named later (Mark Johnson). He played another 11 years.
▪ Right-handed pitcher Josh Beckett: We almost went with Kevin Brown here, but instead went with a two-time World Series MVP — once with the 2003 Marlins and once with 2007 Boston — after Beckett went east with Lowell and Mota in the 2005 trade that brought Hanley Ramirez (see above).
▪ Left-handed pitcher Mark Buehrle: A close call with Dontrelle Willis, Buehrle gets it for being part of the minivan full of players and cash sent to Toronto after the 2012 season. When the Marlins sent Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio, John Buck, Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes and money to Toronto for Henderson Alvarez, Anthony DeSclafani, Yunel Escobar, Adeiny Hechavarria, Jake Marisnick, Jeff Mathis and Justin Nicolino, it stamped owner Jeffrey Loria as a cynical swindler to many fans. Only one season into Marlins Park’s existence and the team was back to rebuilding.
▪ C Charles Johnson
▪ 2B Dee Gordon
▪ 2B Dan Uggla
▪ SS Jose Reyes
▪ 3B Mike Lowell
▪ OF Bobby Bonilla
▪ SP Kevin Brown
▪ SP Dontrelle Willis
▪ SP Al Leiter
▪ SP Rob Nen