In the offseason leading up to the 2006 MLB campaign, the Florida Marlins went through another rebuilding stretch. They traded away veterans Mike Lowell, Josh Beckett, Carlos Delgado, Paul Lo Duca, Juan Pierre, Luis Castillo and others to bring in a group of prospects. This youth movement was built around Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis, who would be traded together two years later.
If that group of prospects stayed together, it was thought that Marlins would be a perennial playoff team. That group included Mike Jacobs, Dan Uggla, Hanley Ramirez, Cody Ross, Josh Willingham, Josh Johnson, Anibal Sanchez and Ricky Nolasco. With yearly payroll concerns, the Marlins had to pick a couple of these guys to keep long term and ship everyone else away during their arbitration years.
The decision was made to give Hanley Ramirez a six year extension, Nolasco a four year extension and Johnson a three year extension and build the team around these guys. In 2010, the Marlins saw top prospects Gaby Sanchez, Logan Morrison and Mike Stanton come up to the big leagues and make an impact. With the trio of veterans and this group of young talented hitters, the Marlins knew they needed to full just a few holes to contend.
When the Marlins moved into their own stadium in 2012, they made a big splash by signing Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, Mark Buehrle and trading for Carlos Zambrano. The message from the front office was that they were building a team to help Hanley Ramirez make the playoffs.
However, upset about being moved to third base and being paid less than Reyes, Ramirez wanted out. He asked to be traded during the offseason, and when he wasn’t accommodated the former batting champion played himself out of Miami. His lackluster attitude was finally too much for the Marlins to take so they shipped him to the newly rich Los Angeles Dodgers. With a new ownership group and a very lucrative TV Deal, money was not an issue for the Dodgers.
At the end of the 2012 season, the underachieving Marlins shipped away every player that they acquired the offseason before. They sent Bell to the Arizona Diamondbacks and they packaged Reyes, Buehrle and Johnson to the Toronto Blue Jays for a handful of prospects.
All that was left from that class of 2006 was Nolasco. He was about to be part of his third rebuilding effort with the Marlins. There were rumors circulating that they wanted to trade him, but the commissioner forced them to keep their payroll above a certain level. Therefore, they held onto Nolasco and waited for a team that needed a pitcher to come calling by the trade deadline.
Once again, the newly rich Dodgers, had no problem taking on his salary and adding him to a rotation that already included Clayton Kershaw and Zach Greinke. Just like that he was in the middle of his first pennant race with his former teammate Hanley Ramirez alongside him.
Since being traded from the Marlins on July 6, Nolasco has been easily the best mid-season acquisition by any team. He has gone 8-2 with a 3.14 ERA in 14 starts with Los Angeles. Ramirez is putting up the best numbers of his career. While he has been on and off the Disabled List, he has played 81 games and has hit .351 with 20 homers and 57 RBI. The Dodgers are 53-28 in games that Hanley has played and 35-37 in games that he has missed. Nolasco started the clinching game against the Diamondbacks and Hanley went 4-for-5 with four RBI and two home runs.
Ramirez and Nolasco will both play in their first postseason and it will be as teammates. This is something Marlins fans wished would have happened in 2009 for Florida and not in 2013 for Los Angeles.