It feels like a lifetime ago and, in some ways, it was, when catcher Ivan Rodriguez signed with the then-Florida Marlins in 2003. Cast your mind back to the 2003 season and it was a completely different time. The colors, stadium, and even the team’s name was different. Marlins fans are hoping for something different during the 2020 season when the Fish take the field. Fans can use the Ladbrokes bonus and get the latest tips and bet bonuses for baseball games when the first pitch is thrown.
The Florida Marlins entered the Major League Baseball season after finishing the previous campaign 79-83. Only the New York Mets posted a worse record in the National League East. During the 2003 offseason the Marlins made several key moves that would push them into title contenders with none being bigger than the addition of Ivan Rodriguez.
Sure, the Marlins would start the season in a terrible state going 16-22 before firing manager Jeff Torborg, but it was the addition of a veteran leader and catcher to oversee the pitching staff that made the team credible.
When the Marlins shelled out $10 million for Rodriguez on a one-year contract in January 2003, it was one of the most significant free agent signings the club made to that point. Pudge’s $10M deal was less than half of what Major League Baseball’s highest paid player made at the time, Alex Rodriguez, who was in his last season with the Texas Rangers.
Pudge was the complete package for the Marlins. He could hit, play defense, lead, and coach the pitching staff. The Marlins got more for their money than ever expected with Rodriguez and looking back, they underpaid for the catcher. Interestingly, in 2019, San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey made more than double what Rodriguez did during his one and only season with the Fish. How much would Pudge received if he was playing today?
Rodriguez’s numbers on offense were solid. He had a .297 batting average, 16 home runs, and 85 RBI. By the time Pudge arrived in South Florida, he had 12 years on his body. For a normal position player, 12 years is a lot, but for a catcher, you might as well double that figure. The wear and tear on the knees, ankles, back, and shoulders is tremendous.
Perhaps the wear and tear is why the Marlins were able to get Rodriguez for such a steal. According to the Miami Herald, Rodriguez was even being shopped by his agent to Japanese baseball teams in hopes of a big-money offer. The Marlins, who moved on several big earners in the offseason, made a good enough offer to the catcher and it proved to be money well spent.
The Marlins won their second World Series in October with Rodriguez playing a pivotal role. When the season ended, both Pudge and the ball club showed interest in a new contract. However, Scott Boras had been hired by Rodriguez following his original Marlins contract. Seeking a long-term, high-paid deal for his client, Boras outpriced the Marlins.
Pudge went on to play for the Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees, Houston Astros, Texas Rangers once again, and Washington Nationals. Despite winning a few individual awards, his World Series win with the Marlins remained his one and only.