clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

7 former MLB stars signed by Marlins during “Tom Brady phase” of their careers

The Marlins have a long tradition of plugging roster holes with aging superstars-turned-role players.

Sports Contributor Archive 2020

Quarterback Tom Brady announced Tuesday morning that he’d be leaving the New England Patriots after 20 seasons as the face of the NFL’s model franchise. Presumably, he would have stayed put if the price was right, but you can understand the Pats’ hesitancy—Brady is coming off a mediocre individual campaign and turning 43 later this year. How do you fully commit to winning while catering to an iconic athlete who’s still determined to continue playing far past his prime?

The Marlins can hardly relate because of their poor record of roster continuity and the fact that they’ve rarely been in a position to win. Rather, they only know the other side of the equation: luring former stars in free agency to bring attention to the team.

Here are seven examples of those who landed in South Florida near the end of their careers after rising to fame elsewhere.

OF Andre Dawson

  • Signed with Marlins entering age-40 season
  • 1995-1996 stats: .261/.306/.430, 91 wRC+, -0.9 fWAR in 307 PA

Dawson enjoyed arguably the best major league career of any hitter who was born and raised in Miami. Returning home to join the Marlins wasn’t about the money for him at that point, but rather going to a comfortable environment where he would still get to play (albeit in a limited role).

Even as some of Dawson’s other abilities eroded, the raw power was there until the very end.

SS Rafael Furcal

  • Signed with Marlins entering age-36 season
  • 2014 stats: .171/.216/.229, 23 wRC+, -0.2 fWAR in 37 PA

The longtime leadoff man was aiming to re-establish himself after undergoing Tommy John surgery. The Marlins had to cycle through a hodgepodge of second basemen when Furcal’s comeback attempt was derailed by multiple new injuries.

OF Luis Gonzalez

  • Signed with Marlins entering age-40 season
  • 2008 stats: .261/.336/.413, 96 wRC+, -0.8 fWAR in 387 PA

When you say “2008 Marlins outfielders,” I think of Cody Ross, Josh Willingham, Jeremy Hermida and Alfredo Amézaga (in that order). I had zero memory of five-time All-Star slugger and Florida native Luis Gonzalez being involved.

But browsing through our Getty Images database confirms it!

Florida Marlins v New York Mets Photo by Rich Pilling/MLB via Getty Images

Gonzo and The Hawk are tied in the franchise record books for most home runs in a season by a Marlins player age 40 or older (8 HR).

OF Curtis Granderson

  • Signed with Marlins entering age 38-season
  • 2019 stats: .183/.281/.356, 71 wRC+, -1.4 fWAR in 363 PA

The Marlins were cautiously optimistic that Granderson had something left in the tank. Expectations for the team were low, and it’s not like they had many intriguing, major league-ready outfielders in the pipeline at that point, anyway. Couldn’t hurt to roll the dice on a revered veteran. Either flip him to a contender midsummer for younger, more controllable talent, or reap the benefits of his contributions in the clubhouse and South Florida community.

It proved to be the latter. Granderson hung up his cleats shortly before the start of 2020 Spring Training.

OF Tim Raines

  • Signed with Marlins entering age-42 season
  • 2002 stats: .191/.351/.258, 69 wRC, -0.3 fWAR in 114 PA

Raines’ top highlight with the Fish was...the walk-off sacrifice fly? Not many to choose from.

The fifth-leading base-stealer in Major League Baseball history, 2002 was the only year of his career that he failed to add to that total—on the bright side, no caught stealings, either!

OF Ichiro Suzuki

  • Signed with Marlins entering age-41 season
  • 2015-2017 stats: .256/.315/.325, 77 wRC+, 0.5 fWAR in 1,018 PA

The Marlins were transparent about their motivations here: they signed Ichiro to sell jerseys and to record his 3,000th career MLB hit in their uniform.

His signing—and subsequent extension—worked out better than expected. Fans predictably warmed up to Ichiro, he got along great with their up-and-coming star outfielders, and the future Hall of Famer turned back to clock in 2016, performing like a league-average hitter and reaching that hallowed milestone.

Honorable mention: 3B Placido Polanco

  • Signed with Marlins entering age-37 season
  • 2012 stats: .260/.315/.302, 75 wRC+, 0.5 fWAR in 446 PA

Polanco arrived in Miami with three Gold Gloves on his résumé and had flirted with the AL batting title a couple times during his peak years in Detroit. However, his small-ball, slick-fielding skill set did not lend itself to the same degree of marketability as the others mentioned above. Not quite a STAR, in my opinion.