Retooling Marlins trade two stars

Big ones get away

Posted: Friday, July 12, 2002

Cliff Floyd is going back to Montreal, the Cincinnati Reds are adding pitching for a wild card run and the Florida Marlins are retooling yet again.

Coming out of baseball's All-Star break with two trades, Florida dealt Ryan Dempster, the winningest pitcher in Marlins' history, to the Reds on Thursday for outfielder Juan Encarnacion, infielder Wilton Guerrero and minor league left-hander Ryan Snare.

Florida then sent the power-hitting Floyd to Montreal along with minor league right-hander Claudio Vargas, Guerrero and about $1.5 million for pitchers Carl Pavano and Graeme Lloyd, infielder Mike Mordecai and minor leaguer Justin Wayne.

The Marlins also get a player to be named that the team said would be significant -- one high-ranking official on a major league team, speaking on the condition he not be identified, said it would be a top pick from the 2001 draft.

''This is not a firesale by any stretch,'' Florida president David Samson said. ''This is making moves given the realities of the position of our players. ... The payroll did not go down. The definition of a firesale is to put your bottom line in a position to cut losses. This does not do this at all.''

Floyd, hitting .287 with 18 homers and 57 RBIs, was the last remaining member of the Marlins' 1997 World Series championship team who had played with the team in every season since, and is eligible to become a free agent at the end of the season. Florida didn't want to lose him for nothing and didn't want to sign him to contract for market value -- perhaps $10 million annually or more.

''You make trades trying to get better for now and the future, and I think we've done that,'' Marlins president David Samson said. ''To our fans, I say change in baseball happens and it's good. This is not a white flag by any stretch.''

Surprising Montreal, perhaps playing its final season, began Thursday night 5 1/2 games behind Arizona, the NL wild card leader. Cincinnati trailed first-place St. Louis by two games in the NL Central and was five games back of the Diamondbacks in the wild card race.

The Expos are owned by the other 29 teams and can't raise their payroll. On June 27, they acquired pitcher Bartolo Colon from Cleveland.

''To be able to add Bartolo Colon and Cliff Floyd without taking on money, that's a huge challenge,'' Expos general manager Omar Minaya said.

Cincinnati also has payroll limitations. To save money, the Reds traded Guerrero and his $850,000 salary and placed pitcher Seth Etherton, who makes $224,000, on waivers. He was claimed by the New York Yankees.

Reds manager Bob Boone will start Dempster on Friday against the Astros in place of Joey Hamilton, who will go to the bullpen.

''We hated to give up a player like Encarnacion but we felt with our depth in the outfield and with Junior (Griffey) coming back, we could do this,'' Boone said. ''There is no question we wouldn't be where we are without Encarnacion but to get where we need to go, we'll need the pitching. Ryan chews up a lot of innings.''

Floyd began his career with the Expos and recently said he'd welcome a trade back to Montreal. When he left Pro Player Stadium on Thursday before the deal was announced, the 29-year-old Floyd told reporters: ''I'll see you all next week, over there,'' and pointed to the visitors' clubhouse. The Expos play at Florida starting July 19.

''From a business standpoint, I think it has to be done,'' Floyd said before the deal was announced. ''From a competitive standpoint, it looks bad. But we're not the business guys. We're players.''

Dempster, a 25-year-old right-hander and Canadian native, was 5-8 with a 4.79 ERA in 18 starts and has 42 career wins with the Marlins.

''Although we had to give up Encarnacion and Guerrero, who have contributed to our success this year, we couldn't pass on the opportunity to get a 25-year-old pitcher who has the potential to be a No. 1 or No. 2 starter for years to come,'' Reds general manager Jim Bowden said.

Dempster had a feeling a trade was coming.

''I just know from playing against the Reds and knowing some of those guys, they have fun,'' Dempster said. ''They're exciting, they have a good team, they work real hard, and winning means a lot to them.''

Encarnacion, 26, is hitting .277 with 16 homers and 51 RBIs.

''We know it happens and you can't do anything about it,'' Encarnacion said. ''I played well here and I'll play well there. I have friends here but I'm happy that the Marlins want me.''

Pavano, 26, was obtained by Montreal from Boston in the Pedro Martinez trade but the right-hander slumped this year. He was optioned to the minor leagues on June 21 after going 3-8 with a 6.30 ERA in 15 games with the Expos, but Florida put him on the major league roster.

Lloyd, a 35-year-old left-hander, is 2-3 with five saves and a 5.87 ERA in 41 relief appearances this season. He isn't fond of Jeffrey Loria, who sold the Expos earlier this year and bought the Marlins.

''I would rather be here than there,'' Lloyd told the Canadian Press in Montreal before learning of the trade. ''I've been lied to by (Loria) once or twice, and I don't want to get lied to again.''

Florida manager Jeff Torborg thinks the reformed Marlins have a chance to contend for the playoff berth.

''This team is a very strong team as far as character is concerned,'' he said. ''I'm just hoping we can bring the new guys into the picture and get the pitching where we hoped it would be. I still really believe we could make a run.''

Etherton, a 25-year-old right-hander, missed the 2001 season following arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder and has made three rehabilitation starts in the minor leagues this year. The Yankees optioned him to Double-A Norwich and cleared space on their 40-man roster by transferring right-hander Christian Parker from the 15-day disabled list to the 40-day disabled list.



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