I’ve lived in South Florida since 1999, and while we have had our share of selling – giving away established players for prospects – we occasionally do make a run for players. Sometimes we have gone overboard – like in 1997 – and other times we do a subtle move here or there to finish the product (2003). In 2009, the Marlins decided they wanted someone with on base skills to replace Emilio Bonafacio – fast but not a leadoff hitter – and found one in Washington: Nick Johnson.
Florida Gets: One of the hidden gems when he’s healthy, Nick Johnson is a tolerable first baseman and left fielder, but his best skill is working the count for hits and walks. Johnson has a .399 OBP in his career which started more than a decade ago with the Yankees. Johnson isn’t going to make the Marlins infield more airtight – and moving Jorge Cantu back to third isn’t an improvement over the mobile Bonafacio – but he is going to help score runs. The Marlins offense is already potent – not Boston on Steroids potent, but capable of routing people.
Washington Gets: Well – Nick Johnson wasn’t staying around anyway – he’s a free agent after the season. Aaron Thompson is a former Marlins #1 pick (2005) who has some control, but seems to be hittable and despite that #1 tag hasn’t moved that quickly through the system. Thompson may make the Nationals in a year or so, but he isn’t going to make a splash. Maybe he can become a middle reliever and stick around a while.
Winner: Marlins, who seem to win on all these deals. I know Josh Beckett and Lowell for Hanley Ramirez is probably a wash, but Hanley is all that. If Anibel Sanchez ever comes back to where he was three years ago (not likely, if you ask me), the Marlins would have won that deal, too.