This week in Marlins history marks the start of a period of time when the Marlins, whether for better or worse, have been more active than at any other time of the year. It is particularly noted for the Marlins being very active in continuing its 1997 fire sale and, years later, for making a trade that had a major impact in building their second World Series championship team. The busy, historical trend of trades started on November 18, 1997 and consisted as follows and continued afterward.
November 18, 1997
On November 18, 1997, the Marlins made two major moves to trade away two key pieces from the newly crowned World Series Champions. On that day, starting center fielder, Devon White was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for a talented left-handed pitcher, Jesus Martinez, who was the younger brother of All-Star pitchers, Ramon and Pedro Martinez. He was available because, while having the same pitching tools as his older brothers, Martinez had a difficulty with control. As a result, he was left unprotected by the Los Angeles Dodgers for the 1997 Expansion Draft, and ended being drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks. The trade with the Marlins was completed right after the draft. Martinez would never pitch in the Marlins' system as he was let go by the start of the next season and was sent to the Reds organization. He never pitched in MLB.
The other trade that day resulted in a bigger piece heading out. Closer Robb Nen was traded to the San Francisco Giants for former first-round pick and top-100 prospect, right-handed pitcher Joe Fontenot. This was expected to be a trade that would help both teams, but bad luck hurt the Marlins on this one. After only pitching and struggling in eight MLB starts for the Marlins in 1998, Fontenot was injured. He ended up only pitching one more year in MiLB, but never pitched again in MLB. He retired after the 1999 season, at the age of 22.
November 20, 1997
The 1997 fire sale, in full stride at the time, continued a couple of days later, on November 20, 1997. On that day, the Marlins traded "Mr. Marlin", Jeff Conine, to Kansas City Royals in exchange for a decent right-handed pitching prospect named Blaine Mull, a former Sixth Round draft pick out of high school. The Marlins were also unfortunate with this deal as well. Mull's career came to an end after the 1998 MiLB season, at the age of 21. He had quality success in MiLB, but didn't get the chance to advance to MLB.
Despite the disappointment of this trade, there is one thing that can help Marlins fans cope with it. Conine's career with the Marlins was not done because the Marlins did bring "Mr. Marlin" back in 2003 to help them win their second World Series title. While this has nothing with this particular trade, it does help with forgetting that memory.