Biggest trades for top MLB talent in Miami Marlins history

21 May 1998: Mike Piazza #31 of the Florida Marlins in a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at the Pro Player Stadium in Miami, Florida. The Diamondbacks defeated the Marlins 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Andy Lyons /Allsport
21 May 1998: Mike Piazza #31 of the Florida Marlins in a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at the Pro Player Stadium in Miami, Florida. The Diamondbacks defeated the Marlins 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Andy Lyons /Allsport /
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(Photo by Don Smith /MLB Photos via Getty Images)
(Photo by Don Smith /MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

When the Miami Marlins tried to defend their title-eventually

When compared to previous Miami Marlins title defenses, the 2004 team was an unstoppable juggernaut.

But when compared to nearly every other MLB team that tried to defend their title, the 2004 team was kind of a letdown. Based on 2003 production, three of their top six hitters weren’t brought back due to money issues. They actually spent less on payroll in 2004 than they did during their World Series run. Among that pair of not retained sluggers? Future Hall of Fame catcher Ivan Rodriguez.

Pudge’s absence was certainly noticed over the course of the season, not surprising considering no one was brought in to replace his production, and the job reverted to long time No. 2 catcher Mike Redmond. After a hot start in April, the Marlins were barely playing .500 ball. Despite still having a very talented roster, a shakeup was needed. It was time to make another trade with the Dodgers.

It was even for an All-Star catcher again.

If Miami had improved in one area in 2004, it was pitching depth. So they felt no qualms about dealing Brad Penny, Hee-Seop Choi, and Bill Murphy in exchange for Paul Lo Duca, Juan Encarnacion, and Guillermo Mota. Effectively, it was a total renunciation of the penny pinching decisions they made in the offseason. Lo Duca canceled out the Pudge mistake. Choi was supposed to replace Lee, and even came over in the trade that sent the Gold Glover to Chicago. But after an MVP caliber April, he was downright abysmal the rest of the way. Juan Encarnacion was a Marlin in 2003, and was the third of those three discarded hitters mentioned a moment ago. Finally, bringing in Mota made up for the fact that Miami released their top two relievers from 2003, only bringing in one replacement.

This trio helped Miami make a real run of it right until the end once they came aboard. In fact, if you want to play the part of the ultimate Miami Marlins optimist, you can make a pretty good case that the only reason this team didn’t return to the playoffs was too many hurricanes. They also were all brought back for 2005, so this trade does somewhat qualify as being part of a bigger plan. And the combined influence of the three players does probably roughly equal the impact of one superstar.

However, we’re still talking about just 1.5 years of usefulness. These were all older players, ones much closer to their decline than their peak. In Mota’s case, the decline started the moment the plane touched down in Florida. The investment cost required was also pretty low considering, arguably the lowest on this list.

Still just not the same thing as a Reynolds trade. A Reynolds trade, or this franchise defining moment for Miami and San Diego…