Marlins' top 5 Winter Meetings transactions

December 7th, 2020

MIAMI -- MLB’s virtual Winter Meetings will be held this week, which, for the Marlins, means an opportunity to further explore the free-agent and trade markets.

The Marlins certainly have a history of being active at the Winter Meetings, with some of their most significant player moves stealing headlines in years past. Not all panned out as the organization had hoped.

MLB.com explores the top five Winter Meetings transactions for the Marlins.

1) Dec. 14, 2017, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.: OF dealt to the Cardinals for RHP , OF , RHP and LHP
Key fact: Alcantara was an All-Star in 2019, Marlins’ Opening Day starter in '20

How this trade ultimately plays out is yet to be determined, but there are plenty of encouraging signs that the Marlins are still reaping the rewards of this blockbuster deal. Granted, the price of trading a proven middle-of-the-order threat like Ozuna is steep.

But Alcantara alone is establishing himself as a frontline starter. The 25-year-old is entering his prime seasons, and he has made major strides in the past couple of years, emerging as Miami’s ace.

“The ace needs to be ‘that guy,’” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “When he pitches, your team should feel like you’re going to win.”

Alcantara posted a 3.00 ERA across seven starts in 2020 after logging 197 1/3 innings in '19. In two postseason starts, he struck out 12 in 12 2/3 innings.

“They want me to be a leader,” Alcantara said when he was announced as the Opening Day starter in 2020. “That’s what I’m trying to do. Keep preparing myself. Keep getting better. Become an ace.”

Sierra is a speedster who appears to have a role as a backup outfielder. Gallen was traded to the D-backs for shortstop , and Castano showed promise in 2020, sporting a 3.03 ERA in 29 2/3 innings.

2) Dec. 7, 2011, in Dallas: Marlins sign free-agent shortstop
Key fact: Reyes’ six-year, $106 million deal was the largest free-agent contract in Marlins history

With Marlins Park opening in 2012, the club loaded up on high-profile free agents to usher in the new building and rebranding of the franchise. While the Reyes signing didn’t produce the ultimate results the Marlins wanted, it was historical in the fact that he became the organization’s first signing for more than $100 million. Reyes’ contract also was the largest consummated by a Marlins player, until inked his benchmark 13-year, $325 million contract after the '14 season.

Reyes was a big part of the rebranding of the franchise, as the organization went from being the Florida Marlins to the Miami Marlins, complete with a new logo and uniforms. Reyes spent just one season with the Marlins, and it was a productive one, as he hit .287/.347/.433 with 37 doubles, 12 triples, 11 home runs, 57 RBIs, 86 runs and 40 stolen bases. But the Marlins sputtered in the standings, and the roster began to be dismantled in July. Following the season, Reyes was dealt to the Blue Jays as part of an 11-player trade.

3) Dec. 4, 2007, in Nashville: 3B and LHP traded to the Tigers for OF , LHP , C , RHP , RHP and RHP
Key fact: Cabrera and Willis were the last two remaining players from the Marlins’ 2003 World Series championship

As lopsided as the trade eventually became, it was the buzz of the 2007 Winter Meetings. At just 24 years old, Cabrera already was a four-time All-Star. The 25-year-old Willis was the National League Rookie of the Year Award winner in '03 and a two-time All-Star. In '05, he set a Marlins franchise single-season record with 22 wins.

Both young stars, however, were headed towards major paydays, and their trade value was high. Cabrera made $7.4 million and Willis earned $6.45 million in arbitration in 2007. Without the approval of a new stadium in place, the Marlins parted with the two faces of their franchise.

The return, based on prospect rankings at the time, appeared strong. Maybin and Miller were former first-round Draft picks projected for stardom. Both ended up achieving success, but elsewhere. Badenhop became the most productive player the Marlins received in the trade, striking out 190 batters in 250 2/3 innings over four seasons.

4) Dec. 11, 2014, in San Diego: Marlins acquire 2B Dee Strange-Gordon, RHP and INF from the Dodgers for LHP , RHP , INF and C
Key fact: Strange-Gordon won the NL batting title (.333) in 2015. Rojas is Miami’s starting shortstop

Looking to infuse more speed into their lineup, the Marlins swung a seven-player deal, with Strange-Gordon as the headliner. Coming off an All-Star season in 2014, Strange-Gordon enjoyed his best all-around season in '15, being named an All-Star, Silver Slugger and Gold Glove Award winner. He paced the NL in hits (205) and stolen bases (58).

“I’ve said in the past that we like the speed component in our club,” former Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said after making the trade. “I would like more. We’ve always liked the component, so we’re exploring those types of options.”

Haren ended up spending about half a season with the Marlins before being dealt to the Cubs in 2015. Initially a utility player, Rojas has become the club’s regular shortstop.

5) Dec. 9, 1996, in Boston: RHP Alex Fernandez signs as a free agent
Key fact: Fernandez’s 220 2/3 innings in 1997 rank eighth most in franchise history for a season

The Marlins made a big splash by locking up Fernandez to a five-year, $35 million contract. A Miami native, Fernandez was a workhorse in the first seven years of his career with the White Sox. In 1996, Fernandez logged 258 innings in 35 starts. After signing with the Marlins, his contract made him the second-highest paid pitcher in the Majors, behind Atlanta’s John Smoltz.

"It's a very exciting, emotional day," Fernandez said after the deal was finalized. "It's a great feeling to know you'll be sleeping in your own house and be with your wife and kids every day."

Fernandez was a big part of the Marlins’ 1997 World Series championship team, posting a 17-12 record with a 3.59 ERA in 220 2/3 innings.

Unfortunately, Fernandez wasn’t available for the World Series after sustaining a rotator cuff tear in his right shoulder during the NL Championship Series. The injury also caused him to miss all of 1998.

Still, Fernandez’s impact with the Marlins is lasting, because of his contributions overall during the organization's first World Series championship season.