Unpopular trade may turn out right for Marlins

“What’s right isn’t always popular. What’s popular isn’t always right.” — Howard Cosell

MIAMI — The words of Howard Cosell, the late broadcasting legend, can certainly apply to the Marlins’ controversial 12-player trade with the Blue Jays two offseasons ago.

Few moves in any sport created as much negative backlash as what the Marlins received for dealing several high-priced, popular players after the inaugural
season at Marlins Park.

Here’s a refresher for one of the most criticized deals in recent MLB history.

On Nov. 19, 2012, Miami completed a deal that sent Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, John Buck and Emilio Bonifacio to Toronto for Henderson Alvarez,
Adeiny Hechavarria, Jeff Mathis, Yunel Escobar, Jake Marisnick, Anthony DeSclafani and Justin Nicolino.

As unpopular as the trade was, Marlins’ ownership insisted it was the right thing to do.

Yes, the trade was a money purge, ridding Miami of $163.75 million in guaranteed salaries owed through 2018. Yes, the trade made the club younger, and in the short-term meant more losing. That clearly happened with a 100-loss campaign in 2013. And to the Marlins, yes, the deal was necessary because it helped reset the culture in a clubhouse in need of changing. Mike Redmond replaced Ozzie Guillen as manager, and the organizaiton now has a “team first” mentality.

Why rehash one of the darkest days in Marlins’ history today? Because of how that blockbuster continues to influence the roster overall as we head into 2015.

Four players directly involved in the deal remain: Alvarez, Hechavarria, Mathis and Nicolino. Alvarez, an All-Star in ’14, is a top of the rotation fixture.
Hechavarria was a Gold Glove finalist at shortstop. Mathis is a highly-respected backup catcher, and Nicolino was the Organizations Top Minor League pitcher last season.

Apply the six degrees of separation theory to the trade, and seven more players with links to the Toronto trade are now with the organization — infielder
Derek Dietrich, right-hander Jarred Cosart, right-hander Mat Latos, second baseman Dee Gordon, right-hander Dan Haren, infielder Miguel Rojas and outfielder Austin Wates.

Each of these players is connected, either directly or indirectly, to the Blue Jays’ deal.

Haren’s situation remains up in the air, because he is considering either retiring of requesting a trade to a West Coast team. But Cosart and Latos are
projected to be in the rotation. Gordon will be the starting second baseman, while Dietrich, Rojas and Wates will be in Spring Training competing for bench
spots.

Cosart and Wates, for example, were acquired in July from the Astros in a package of players that included Marisnick. Enrique Hernandez was also part of that trade. At the Winter Meetings a few weeks ago in San Diego, Hernandez was part of the trade with the Dodgers that brought in Gordon, Haren and Rojas.

Taking it a step further, moving the $163.75 million off the books, also gave the Marlins the financial flexibility to sign Giancarlo Stanton, their MVP-
candidate, to the richest contract in North American sports history — 13 years, $325 million.

It’s often said, you can’t measure the true impact of a trade until three or four years later. In the Marlins’ case, that big deal, as unpopular as it ws at the time, may end up being right after all.

Six degrees of Marlins trade with Blue Jays

Nov. 19, 2012

To Blue Jays: RHP Josh Johnson, LHP Mark Buehrle, SS Jose Reyes, C John Buck, INF Emilio Bonifacio

To Marlins: RHP Henderson Alvarez, SS Adeiny Hechavarria, C Jeff Mathis, INF Yunel Escobar, OF Jake Marisnick, LHP Justin Nicolino, RHP Anthony DeSclafani

Dec. 4, 2012

To Rays: INF Yunel Escobar

To Marlins: INF Derek Dietrich

July 31, 2014

To Astros: OF Jake Marisnick, 3B Colin Moran, RHP Francis Martes

To Marlins: RHP Jarred Cosart, INF Enrique Hernandez, OF Austin Wates

Dec. 10, 2014

To Dodgers: INF Enrique Hernandez, LHP Andrew Heaney, RHP Chris Hatcher, C Austin Barnes.

To Marlins: 2B Dee Gordon, RHP Dan Haren, INF Miguel Rojas

Dec. 11, 2014

To Reds: RHP Anthony DeSclafani, C Chad Wallach

To Marlins: RHP Mat Latos

Joe Frisaro

7 Comments

Reblogged this on MLB.com Blogs Central and commented:
Marlins beat writer Joe Frisaro revisits the blockbuster Miami-Toronto trade from two years ago that continues to reap rewards for the franchise. Joe’s blog, The Fish Pond, is essential reading for Marlins fans.

Pingback: Quick Hits: Williams, Viciedo, Scherzer, Rangers, Mets – MLB Trade Rumors

Very well said Joe. The deal looked bad at the time, but not so much now.

Not to brag but I was one of the few people who supported that deal when it was done. From a business standpoint the Marlins did what they had to after investing money in the team and coming up way short. They had two choices, invest more money or rebuild. They made the right decision despite all the backlash and appear to have made themselves viable for the next 5 years.

Some are still calling this trade a “salary dump.” When you move that much money to free up payroll, you can call it whatever you want. Those people don’t seem to have a grasp with how the industry works. Teams shed money all the time. The Braves are doing it now. The Phillies are trying to do it. I can go on and on. Did those fans want the Marlins to have kept Reyes and Buehrle for the backended contracts they had? If so, the club could have kept them but the club definitely wouldn’t have had the money to sign Stanton.
Some also felt betrayed because the Marlins are in a new ballpark. Well, taking a step back in 2013 with a low payroll to be a contender from ’14 and now the foreseeable future, shows that one year setback was worth it.
Still others, who don’t really know how the industry works, say the Marlins could have gotten more from Toronto. That’s completely silly stuff. Alvarez is an All-Star and Hech is a future All-Star. Those two alone make the trade worth it. Marisnick was the Blue Jays No. 2 prospect at the time. Marisnick was spun to get Cosart, and as this blog shows, the Marlins cleaned up on what they’ve acquired. Also, fans, don’t get too swept away by subjective rankings. Teams don’t sit there and say, unless that top prospect is someone the caliber of Jose or Yelich, those top prospect lists are mostly for recreational purposes. Within organizations teams have differing opinions on their own guys.
Bottom line is the results of the trade. Anyone other than just trying to stir things up can’t make a sound argument otherwise.

The argument regarding the trade and its results is sound. And if the Fish are now seeking to emulate their cross-state counterparts on the Gulf Coast by developing young pitching, extending franchise talent, keeping young, and filling in with undervalued veterans (McGehee), then bully for them. If it works for small market Tampa, it will work for Miami. The difference is Tampa is a small market because it is small. Miami doesn’t fill Marlins Park because fans don’t trust the ownership to put a winning team on the field at the expense of padding Loria’s pockets.

The criticism of the trade had little to do with its long-term baseball and financial merit. It had to do with the fact that the Marlins threw in the towel less than four months after the first pitch was thrown in their expensive (to the fans and taxpayers) new park. Following the trades with LA and Detroit which unloaded HanRam, Anibal and Infante, the Toronto deal showed that the high-profile free-agent signings of Buehrle and Reyes in the previous offseason were just a PR stunt. That betrayal was the reason for the criticism.

Also while the trade by itself may have made business sense, it’s hard to give too much credit to management who made the decision to sign those free-agents to begin with…unless of course it really was a PR stunt.

BTW, the 2014 Marlins weren’t much better than the 2012 version. True, 2015 will likely be a different story, but it looks like a .500 team.

I get it. You’ve said nothing that is new. Fans have a mistrust in management. But the argument that the ’12 team was sold out too quickly doesn’t carry much weight. From a business side, the club banked on better attendance in their inaugural season, and the crowds simply weren’t there. They weren’t. Miami had a great May, and no one showed because the market said the Heat was in the playoffs.
In June they slumped and did more of the same in July. You may recall Stanton had knee surgery in early July, so he was out of the lineup at a time the team was sinking in the standings. Hanley had worn out his welcome in the clubhouse and had to go. Anibal was pitching great, but he was a free agent and was not going to return in ’13. JJ was not pitching like the JJ we knew a few years before. Buehrle and Reyes did their parts. They deserved better. But both had backloaded contracts that everyone in the game said would strangle their payroll for years. So do you keep two backloaded contracts, keep losing and not have the resources to sign Stanton? No.
You can say the 2015 club looks like a .500 team. Whatever. That’s better than a last place team. And it is a team that has entirely bought into the program and improving, rather than a collection of players who didn’t fit. Look around the league. The Dodgers got rid of Hanley and Kemp and others. They didn’t like their fit. Did they make a salary dump? You bet. That’s the smart thing to do, part with bad contracts when you can.

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