The Miami Marlins made two major mistakes in team history. One was not re-signing Iván Rodríguez after the 2003 season. I recently wrote about him in fact. The other was trading Miguel Cabrera in 2007. That was the worst trade in team history.
What if the then Florida Marlins (I’ll just say Miami Marlins going forward), kept both players? I’ll use WAR and the team’s records. Obviously it won’t be completely accurate, but it’s the best estimate that we can do.
What if the Miami Marlins kept Iván Rodríguez and Miguel Cabrera?
The Miami Marlins would’ve been better with Pudge in 2004 instead of Mike Redmond. Redmond had a -0.4 WAR for The Fish, while Pudge had a 4.5 WAR for Detroit. The extra 0.5 WAR for Pudge and -0.4 for Redmond add up to roughly 1 more WAR. The extra 5 wins would’ve given The Fish an 88-74 record instead of the actual 83-79 record. Still no playoffs.
In 2005, the Miami Marlins had an 83-79 record again. Paul Lo Duca was our catcher and had a 1.2 WAR. Pudge had a 2.8 WAR, the 1.6 WAR upgrade wouldn’t have done much for The Fish, as the closest playoff team were the Houston Astros with 89 wins.
In 2006, the Miami Marlins had a 79-83 record and the nearest playoff team the Los Angeles Dodgers had 88 wins, so having Pudge and his 3.1 WAR wouldn’t have helped. In 2007, The Fish had a 71-91 record so unfortunately having him again wouldn’t have helped.
Both Pudge and Miguel Cabrera were gone prior to the 2008 season, what if the Miami Marlins had both of them then? The Fish had an 84-77 record and Pudge had a 2.5 WAR for Detroit in his last productive season. Cabrera had a 2.7 WAR. That’s 5.2 WAR combined. The Fish had Matt Treanor with his 0.3 WAR at catcher and Mike Jacobs at first base with -2.0 WAR. Assuming The Fish move Cabrera to first from third base too, that’s 6.9 WAR or 7 extra wins.
The Miami Marlins would’ve had a 91-70 record, that would put us ahead of the 90-72 Milwaukee Brewers for the NL Wild Card! Would the Miami Marlins have won it all that season? The 92-70 Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series, so maybe that would’ve indeed been a championship year for The Fish.
The Miami Marlins should’ve kept Pudge and Miguel Cabrera. Keeping them both would’ve likely sent the team to the playoffs in 2008 and potentially led to a pennant or a Championship. Our would-be World Series opponents? The Tampa Bay Rays. Imagine that…