Examining Marlins' top execs: Frisaro's take
No one loves a good debate quite like baseball fans, and with that in mind, we asked each of our beat reporters to rank the top players by position, top managers and top baseball executives in the history of their franchise, based on their career while with that club. These all-time selections are for fun and debate purposes only.
In their history, the Marlins have had just three executives oversee baseball operations with the title of either executive vice president or president of baseball operations.
Due to that small number, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reviews their tenures.
1. Dave Dombrowski, 1992-01
Key fact: Transformed an expansion franchise in 1993 into World Series champions in '97
Before becoming the team's first general manager, Dombrowski had developed the reputation for building first-rate farm systems while with the Expos. That made him a natural choice to take over the expansion Marlins.
Hired by the Marlins on Sept. 18, 1991, Dombrowski became the youngest GM in the Majors at 35. He wasted no time making moves. The front office came up big by selecting four-time Gold Glove Award-winning catcher Charles Johnson in the first round of the 1992 Draft.
The Marlins' inaugural season was 1993. The organization became the first expansion team to improve its record in each of its first five seasons. In Year 5, the Marlins won the '97 World Series, becoming the fastest expansion team to win the championship. The D-backs later broke that record in 2001 when they did it in four years.
Under Dombrowski, the Marlins acquired Gary Sheffield from the Padres for Trevor Hoffman in 1993. Free-agent signings like Alex Fernández, Al Leiter, Bobby Bonilla, Moises Alou and Kevin Brown helped elevate the ‘97 team to the title. And in '98, after being mandated to break up the team by former owner H. Wayne Huizenga, Dombrowski’s trades netted Derrek Lee, Mike Lowell, A.J. Burnett and Brad Penny.
In 1999, the Marlins signed international free agent Miguel Cabrera and took Josh Beckett second overall in the MLB Draft, putting a foundation in place for the 2003 World Series team.
2. Larry Beinfest, 2002-13
Key fact: Traded for Juan Pierre, sign free agent Ivan Rodriguez and hired manager Jack McKeon, key additions to 2003 World Series title team
When the Marlins changed ownership from John Henry to Jeffrey Loria in 2002, Beinfest came to South Florida after previously being with the Expos. He would enjoy a 12-year tenure with the club. He started off with the title of general manager, and it evolved into him being named president of baseball operations in '07.
The first trade Beinfest made turned into a winner, as he was able to get Dontrelle Willis in the '02 Spring Training deal that sent Antonio Alfonseca and Matt Clement to the Cubs.
In 2003, Beinfest made a creative three-team trade that moved Charles Johnson and Preston Wilson from Miami to Colorado. Juan Pierre came back to South Florida in exchange. The free-agent signing of Rodríguez and the hiring of McKeon as manager in May '03 put the pieces in place to win the franchise’s second World Series crown.
The Marlins have had six winning seasons in club history, and five were during the Beinfest regime. The franchise also underwent two roster overhauls. It started in 2005, when the core of the ’03 team was broken up.
Beckett and Mike Lowell were dealt to the Red Sox in a deal that paid off for both clubs, because Hanley Ramirez and Aníbal Sánchez were brought to South Florida. Claiming Dan Uggla in the 2005 Rule 5 Draft proved to be a steal.
But at the Winter Meetings in 2007, Miguel Cabrera and Willis were traded to the Tigers for Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller and four Minor Leaguers. That blockbuster deal didn’t pan out as well for the Marlins.
In 2012, the club moved into Marlins Park and went on a spending spree, signing free agents José Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell. After a slow start, that team was broken up, and all three were traded in less than a year.
3. Michael Hill, 2013-present
Key fact: Signed Giancarlo Stanton to the then richest MLB contract (13 years, $325 million in 2014), and guiding the current franchise building process
After Beinfest was dismissed in the final days of the 2013 season, Hill was promoted from general manager -- a role he held for six seasons -- to president of baseball operations. He was asked to be part of two roster overhauls -- in '12 (working with Beinfest) and after the '17 season.
In the offseason in 2014, the Marlins signed Stanton for a record 13 years and $325 million.
The Marlins lost 100 games in '13, but they rebounded and were close to a .500 season in '14. Miami became one of only three teams in MLB history to win 77 or more games following a 100-loss season. Under Hill, the Marlins attempted to retain their core players. In March '15, they signed Christian Yelich for seven years and $49.57 million. Dee Gordon signed for five years and $50 million in January '16.
After the Marlins changed ownership after the 2017 season, again Hill was asked to deal away core players. Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, Gordon, Yelich and J.T. Realmuto were all dealt over the next year, giving the organization payroll flexibility. Since then, the organization has improved its farm system from one of the worst in the Majors to one of the best.