You might be sick of hearing about all the players who the Marlins used to have. After all, resetting the roster—and organizational culture—was in everybody’s best long-term interest. But the bottom line is, this rebuild under new ownership was initiated with arguably the largest talent exodus in baseball history. Between the end of the 2017 regular season and Opening Day 2019, the Marlins cut ties with enough solid-to-superstar contributors to practically fill a starting lineup.
Periodically here on Fish Stripes, we have to ask, “Where are they now?” The All-Star break is as good a time as any to check in on what ex-Marlins have accomplished elsewhere.
Specifically, the players being monitored are those inherited from the Jeffrey Loria era who had track records as bonafide major leaguers. Everybody featured below could have been under contract/club control through at least the current season if not for the decision to rebuild.
2018-19 stats: .267/.347/.505, 127 wRC+, 4.4 fWAR in 743 PA
Stanton was the most important player on the Yankees from June through August of last season. He served as a steady offensive force while many teammates dealt with regression and injuries. Overall in 2018, he led the team in home runs (38), runs batted in (100) and total bases (314) en route to 100 wins.
That being said, the production is a tick below his Marlins career numbers, especially when you adjust for New York’s favorable ballpark conditions. Stanton’s exorbitant salary—$26 million in 2019—has limited the Yankees’ roster flexibility, though they enter the break with a comfortable lead in the AL East.
The former NL MVP is a non-factor so far this season, currently sidelined due to a knee sprain and without a clear timetable to return.
2018-19 stats: .327/.413/.636, 171 wRC+, 12.6 fWAR in 1,016 PA
The breakout did not happen immediately. Yelich had a .167 Isolated Power at the time of his first career All-Star selection in 2018, which was almost identical to his previous two Miami campaigns.
And then...everything clicked. Over the past calendar year, the former Marlins first-round draft pick has blossomed into the best player in the National League. Slight adjustments have yielded over-the-fence pop, as he leads the majors with 31 home runs in 2019.
Hey @Marlins, this home run just reminded us that we never said how much we appreciate you for bringing Christian Yelich into our lives. Thanks for the NL MVP. #ThisIsMyCrew pic.twitter.com/CtCiad1WAf— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) June 6, 2019
While it’s too soon to fully assess the Marlins’ side of the deal, the Brewers are understandably thrilled with how things have worked out.
2019 stats: .273/.328/.438, 99 wRC+, 2.8 fWAR in 338 PA
Realmuto asserted himself as MLB’s top catcher with the 2018 Marlins. His bat has regressed to approximately league average, but he’s been having a huge impact regardless thanks to improved pitch framing and a career-best 49.1 CS%.
Realmuto arrived with only two years of club control remaining, so the Phillies are riding him hard in their attempt to contend for the postseason. Starting 76 of the first 90 games behind the plate, he has caught the most innings in baseball.
Should be interesting to see how that workload affects his performance down the stretch.
2018-19 stats: .273/.327/.461, 110 wRC+, 4.4 fWAR in 954 PA
All four players sent to Miami in the trade were prospects at the time. Marlins fans have not been shy about rubbing it in that one of them—Alcantara—earned an MLB All-Star selection with his new team before Ozuna did.
The offensive numbers that Ozuna is posting in St. Louis are eerily similar to his Marlins days. Problem is, a lingering right shoulder issue has sapped the former Gold Glove winner of his special throwing arm.
Still making consistent, quality contact with the bat, Ozuna will have suitors in free agency this winter, but they certainly won’t be offering contracts with the length or guarantee dollar figure that he once anticipated.
2018-19 stats: .268/.291/.352, 77 wRC+, 0.4 fWAR in 846 PA
Dee Gordon and the 2018 Mariners raced out to one of baseball’s best records for the first several months of the season. It was all a tease, unfortunately, as the Astros and Athletics zoomed past them in the AL West and AL Wild Card, respectively.
Gordon’s speed has gradually declined, and generally speaking, his skill set simply isn’t as valuable as it used to be considering how stolen base attempts are being discouraged and run production relies so heavily on homers.
The extension he originally signed with the Fish runs through next summer.
Traded to Phillies on 8/10/18 with cash considerations for LHP McKenzie Mills
2018 MLB stats with Phillies: .224/.296/.347, 77 wRC+, -0.1 fWAR in 54 PA
2019 MLB stats with Angels: .181/.260/.391, 73 wRC+, -0.1 fWAR in 154 PA
The Bour stats above don’t account for his brief June demotion to the Angels Triple-A affiliate. It’s been two short years since he was lighting up the Home Run Derby, and now he doesn’t even merit a permanent roster spot on a middling American League team.
First basemen seldom age gracefully.
Non-tendered by Marlins, then released on 11/27/18; signed by Reds on 2/19/19
2019 stats: .221/.349/.544, 126 wRC+, 1.8 fWAR in 236 PA
So...there was this weird period of a few weeks when national baseball media tried to present Dietrich as one of the faces of baseball? Because he was blasting some homers and showing swag, I guess?
With all due respect to an A+ human being and solid platoon player, that’s just not who he is.
The fit between Dietrich and the Reds has been perfect. The team got him on a minor league deal and found a prominent role for him when Scooter Gennett suffered an injury this spring. Those 18 long balls are already a single-season best.
However, he’s only projected to perform slightly above replacement level during the next few months.
Released by Marlins on 3/25/19; signed by Orioles on 4/5/19
2019 MLB stats: 9.82 ERA, 9.33 FIP, -1.2 fWAR in 47.2 IP
Straily’s tenure with the O’s is almost without precedent. After three straight seasons of wavering between mid-rotation and back-end starter quality, he suddenly can’t get major league hitters out in any role. Old pitchers who lack swing-and-miss stuff occasionally fall off a cliff, but 30 isn’t that old!
A Marlins transaction that initially reeked of penny-pinching—the timing of the release saved about $3.7 million—now looks fully justified.
The right-hander is trying to recapture his form with Baltimore’s Triple-A affiliate.
Aside from Yelich, I wouldn’t say that any of these departures really “haunt” the Marlins. They turned the page in an effort to escape the treadmill of mediocrity, left with no other alternative after the José Fernández tragedy and ill-conceived trade deadline deals from previous years depleted the organization’s pitching depth.
However, portions of the fanbase were (understandably) disgusted by taking a step back from competing at the major league level.
Moving forward with a flexible payroll and revamped set of decision-makers, the Marlins hope to gradually build up from a punching bag to the kind of sustainable contender that can earn back their support.