The timing was poor. The uproar was pronounced and not unjustified.
But the bombshell trade the Marlins made with the Toronto Blue Jays following the calamitous 2012 season — a 12-player exchange in which the Marlins shed more than $150 million in future payroll obligations — is looking shrewder by the day.
The latest evidence came Saturday in Cincinnati when rookie Justin Nicolino delivered a gem in his big-league debut, shutting down the Reds for seven scoreless innings.
Nicolino was one of seven players the Marlins acquired in the Toronto trade.
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▪ Slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria.
▪ Starting pitcher Henderson Alvarez, who was an All-Star a season ago but has spent a good portion of this one on the disabled list.
▪ Backup catcher Jeff Mathis.
▪ Infielder Yunel Escobar, who was flipped to Tampa for Derek Dietrich.
▪ Outfielder Jake Marisnick, who was traded to Houston last July in a package for pitcher Jarred Cosart and Kike Hernandez.
▪ Pitcher Anthony DeSclafani, who was traded to Cincinnati last winter for Mat Latos.
“A lot of our current team was put together through that [Toronto] trade,” said Michael Hill, the Marlins’ president of baseball operations. “Now, hopefully, people will see what we saw when we had to make it.”
Most fans didn’t see it in a positive light at the time. Many felt bamboozled, their trust violated.
After all, the Marlins had played only one season in their state-of-the-art, publicly financed ballpark, one built largely on the premise of a new Marlins era in which the cycle of fire sales and roster purges would come to a halt.
Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle, free agents who signed long-term deals with the Marlins during the lead-up to the opening of Marlins Park, were dealt after just one season in Miami.
Sent packing with them to Toronto were Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck.
“I remember,” Hill said. “I remember like it was yesterday. It was not a happy time for anyone because of the disappointment of the 2012 season.”
But Hill said the trade was necessary.
“The way that  club was put together, we weren’t going to be successful,” Hill said. “So we had to redo it, hit the reset button. We knew that we traded away some good players. But we felt like we were getting quality talent in return.”
Almost three years later, the Marlins appear to have come out on the better end of the deal.
Reyes has missed nearly a third of Toronto’s games since the trade due to injuries. Buck is out of baseball. Johnson won two games for Toronto and hasn’t pitched since 2013 due to arm injuries. He’s now with San Diego. Bonifacio has hit .243 (2013), .259 (2014) and .167 (this season) as a utility player.
Only Buehrle, of the five players the Marlins sent to Toronto, has performed to his usual, high standards with the Blue Jays.
It hasn’t been entirely win-win for the Marlins.
Latos hasn’t performed up to expectations; Cosart, after a strong second half for the Marlins last season, has struggled to get on track this year and sits on the disabled list; and Dietrich has bounced back and forth between the minors and Marlins.
But the Marlins still like how the deal has turned out in the long run.
“It’s never easy when you trade known commodities — name players,” Hill said. “But [fans] have to have faith that we’re doing something that we think is in the best interest of the organization, and we really felt like, at the time, that we were doing what was best for the organization. You rewind to when we did it, and we just asked people to give it time.”
A second look
When the Marlins made a 12-player trade with the Blue Jays on Nov. 20, 2012, many baseball insiders called it another Marlins fire sale. More than two years later, the Marlins have received value for the deal.
WHO WAS DEALT
Shortstop has missed 115 games since joining the Blue Jays.
Won two games in 2013 and has struggled to stay healthy since.
Workhorse has pitched at least 200 innings for 14 consecutive seasons.
Catcher played for four teams since 2012 and retired March 26, 2015.
Utility man is playing for his fifth team since the trade.
WHO WAS ACQUIRED
Shortstop traded to Tampa Bay for Derek Dietrich before playing a game for the Marlins.
Starting shortstop for the Marlins since he was acquired.
Has won 17 games with the Marlins, including a no-hitter in 2013.
Backup catcher is still the perfect mentor for a young pitching staff.
Rookie threw seven shutout innings in his major-league debut last Saturday.
Marlins traded the pitcher to Houston in 2014 for starting pitcher Mat Latos.
The Marlins traded the speedy outfielder to the Astros for starting pitcher Jarred Cosart.