Nine years ago, on January 12, 2005, the Marlins signed catcher Paul Lo Duca to an extension. While the signing was expected to be one that led to many more of the positive memories for Marlins fans, it ended up bringing forth various thoughts and tidbits that can't really lean in any direction.
After amazingly and shockingly winning a World Series title in 2003, the Marlins spent the next couple of seasons trying to make another championship run. Along with trying to keep certain players together, the Marlins made other transactions in the effort. This included a 2004 deadline deal in which they traded away Brad Penny, first baseman Hee Seop Choi and pitching prospect Bill Murphy to the Dodgers in exchange for Lo Duca, relief pitcher Guillermo Mota and to bring back outfielder Juan Encarnación. At the time, Lo Duca was particularly brought in to replace Ivan Rodriguez and become the latest top-tier catcher in Marlins history after the likes of Rodriguez, Charles Johnson, and Benito Santiago.
After an overall solid season, in the 2004-2005 offseason, the Marlins determined to sign Lo Duca long term to be their catcher for the next championship quest.
In early 2005, the Marlins started the New Year with avoiding arbitration and coming to an agreement with Lo Duca. The new deal was for three years and $18 million. This extension was one of the key signings of that offseason, which also saw the Marlins bring back LHP Al Leiter and add slugging first baseman Carlos Delgado. At the time, for the championship hopes, Lo Duca was expected to contribute by continuing to be the man to guide a talented pitching staff that, along with Leiter, included rising stars Josh Beckett and Dontrelle Willis along with the erratic, but talented, AJ Burnett.
In 2005, despite not providing as much offensive help as expected, Lo Duca still went on to have a good enough season behind the plate to be a member of the 2005 All Star team. He also worked with his talented pitching staff to help them to strong seasons that saw Dontrelle Willis lead the league in wins, complete games and shutouts, while competing for the ERA title and Cy Young Award. That same season saw both Beckett and Burnett have breakout, healthy seasons that led to future success for both. Lo Duca also worked with reliever Todd Jones, who re-established his career as a quality closer, after years of struggles with health and consistency. It was a quality season the pitchers and for Lo Duca as the backstop.
However, 2005 would be Lo Duca's last season with the Marlins. After the team as a whole had a disappointing season in which they failed to make the playoffs, Lo Duca became a part of the Marlins second fire sale in team history during the offseason, when he was traded to the New York Mets for two prospects that never panned out. The following year, Lo Duca would play in the postseason for the only time in his career.
As the years passed by, Lo Duca and the Marlins were tied together again with regard to the Marlins acquisition of Lo Duca back in 2004. In December 2007, Lo Duca was named in the infamous Mitchell Report. The same evidence that tied Lo Duca to the use of HGH (among other PEDs), also indicated that Lo Duca became available for trade, because the Los Angeles Dodgers discovered Lo Duca's PED usage and non-usage tendencies and patterns. Cited information indicated that the Dodgers surveyed potential suitors for Lo Duca and targeted the Marlins as a potential trade partner that could give them a maximized return, for a player that the Dodgers knew was not as good as advertised. This cited information was from a meeting consisting of Dodgers officials that took place six months prior to the trade that sent Lo Duca to the Marlins. Due to the many storylines attached to the Mitchell Report, especially with bigger name players mentioned, this story was treated more as a footnote rather than placed under a large microscope. However, it is a story that Marlins fans can make of it what they will, especially since Lo Duca was a popular player while he was here.
While there are various thoughts and tidbits that can be associated with Lo Duca's time with and after he was with the Marlins, his being extended is something that can be remembered on this day, nine years ago.