MIAMI (AP) - Former NL batting champion Hanley Ramirez was traded from Miami to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday, part of what appears to be the third big fire sale in Marlins’ history.
The trade came two days after the Marlins sent pitcher Anibal Sanchez and infielder Omar Infante to the Detroit Tigers for pitching prospect Jacob Turner and two minor leaguers.
“We weren’t winning with the group we had and we want to make changes,” Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said.
As the team prepared to move into its new $634 million retractable-roof ballpark, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria hired Ozzie Guillen as manager and committed $191 million in a five-day span during the offseason to sign All-Stars Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell. The team agreed to star in a Showtime reality series, “The Franchise.”
In their colorful new uniforms, the Marlins were 31-23 through June 3, just percentage points out of first place, then lost 17 of their next 20 games. They started Wednesday 45-52, fourth in the NL East and 12 1/2 games out of first place.
“These are tough trades, but when you underachieve at the level this team has underachieved and has not won at the level we expected it to _ we have talked about restructuring and this is part of it,” Beinfest said.
Miami might not be done, with pitcher Josh Johnson and Bell also trade possibilities before Tuesday’s deadline to make swaps without waivers.
“Be careful with what you think, what you say, and how you smile because you might be next (to get traded),” Guillen said. “That’s the way it has to go if you don’t perform. That’s business.”
After winning the 1997 World Series, the Marlins jettisoned high-priced stars Moises Alou, Kevin Brown, Al Leiter, Robb Nen, Jeff Conine and Devon White. They won the Series again in 2003, then allowed Ivan Rodriguez, Ugueth Urbina, Derrek Lee, Mark Redman, Braden Looper and Juan Encarnacion to depart.
The 28-year-old Ramirez is hitting .246 with 14 home runs and 47 RBIs, far from his big season in 2009 when he hit a league-leading .342 with 24 homers and 106 RBIs.
“I am sad to go,” Ramirez said. “This will be always be my home, but it will just be a little different.”
A three-time All-Star, he shifted from shortstop to third base this season to make room for Reyes.
“It’s sad to see Hanley go to another team,” Reyes said. “We developed a great relationship. I feel he was one of my real good friends on the team. Anytime someone close to you goes to another team it kind of surprises you a little bit and you get sad a little bit, but still need to go out on the field and play the game.”
He joined several other stars who changed teams in recent weeks, including Ichiro Suzuki, Wandy Rodriguez and Kevin Youkilis.