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It’s not common to see teams make trades with division rivals. When the New York Mets have made trades with the Miami Marlins, they tend to come away on top.
The New York Mets and Miami Marlins are not opposed to making trades together. In a ten-year span in the late 1990s and into the new millennia, the two teams made several transactions. For the Mets, they managed to swipe away four incredibly important players from South Florida.
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The Marlins are an organization best known for trading away its players. After winning the 1997 and 2003 World Series, the franchise underwent rebuilds. The rebuild after 1997 was much more crippling to the franchise.
It was after this historic championship the Mets and Marlins began a tradition of moving veterans for minor leaguers. Just a few months after a championship in Miami, the Mets managed to pick up one of their starting pitchers in a February deal.
Welcome to New York, Mr. Leiter
Al Leiter spent two seasons with the Marlins before joining the Mets for seven. He was an All-Star in 1996 and more of a back-of-the-rotation arm in 1997. His poor postseason performance made it easy for the Marlins to swap him with a divisional opponent. Thank goodness they did. Leiter went on to have a brilliant career with the Mets.
In order to bring the Toms River native to Flushing, the Mets sent Rob Stratton, Jesus Sanchez, and A.J. Burnett to the Marlins. By far the most notable in this trade was Burnett whose time with the Marlins spanned seven seasons and even included a no-hitter.
Also headed to New York was Ralph Milliard. His time with the blue and orange squad included 10 games and only a single plate appearance. As far as this trade goes, it was Leiter for three prospects. Only one of them panned out.
Although Burnett had a good career with the Marlins, he missed most of 2003 when the team won the World Series. Based on what the Mets got from Leiter, there’s nothing to complain about in this first of several important trades with the Fish.
Leiter’s career with the Mets included 95 wins and a 3.42 ERA. He never once finished with a below .500 record and didn’t see his ERA rise higher than 4.23 in any season. For this period of baseball when home runs were flying out of ballparks aplenty, it’s an even more impressive achievement.