What is it like to be traded? Marlins' Straily knows feeling

The Miami Marlins' Dan Straily pitches against the Philadelphia Phillies on May 31, 2017, at Marlins Park in Miami. He's been traded four times in 2 1/2 years. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald/TNS)

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The Miami Marlins' Dan Straily pitches against the Philadelphia Phillies on May 31, 2017, at Marlins Park in Miami. He's been traded four times in 2 1/2 years. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald/TNS)

More than anyone else on the Miami Marlins, right-hander Dan Straily knows what it's like to be traded — the conflicting feelings of being wanted by your new team but not wanted enough by your old one, of having to pick up and move at a moment's notice, of having to settle into a new city and clubhouse.

And after being traded four times in 2 1/2 years, from the A's to the Cubs to the Astros to the Padres (to the Reds on a waiver claim) to the Marlins, Straily, 28, knows this much: "It's really like any other job."

Except for the way it's not.

"When you change jobs, most of the time people are doing the same type of work, just in a new atmosphere," Straily said. "Ours is a lot more sudden, not up to you and definitely not the same city more often than not."

The Marlins are poised to be relatively quiet as this year's trade deadline approaches, with Straily among the core players president of baseball operations Michael Hill said the club intends to keep for now.

But with trade action picking up across the league, here is a look, through Straily's eyes and wisdom, at what that is like.


This time of year is a busy one for trade rumors. Players often see them, or are told about them by family and friends, but try to stay focused on the task at hand, preparing for and playing in their game that night.

That's easier said than done. It is, Straily said, a "learned skill," one he acquired just as he has all of his other baseball skills: through practice.

Straily doesn't pay attention to trade buzz anymore, but he used to. In 2012, when he was an A's prospect having a good year in the upper minors, he saw his name connected to the Padres, among other teams.

Other teams wanting him, a guy who hadn't even reached the big leagues yet? It was flattering.

These days, he's numb to the noise. But his series of sudden moves have affected how he operates in a more materialistic way.

"You just live light," Straily said. "I bring less with me during the baseball season. I used to think I needed to bring my whole life with me. Now I just bring enough T-shirts to come to home games, bring enough dress clothes to go to road games."

Take spring 2016 as an example. He was in camp with the Astros, but figured by April he'd be elsewhere. So he did what he could to prepare logistically ahead of time. At home, in Oregon, he had a packed box of dress clothes, ready to be shipped to his eventual in-season home. He joined the Reds April 1, three days before Opening Day.

Another change: shoes. He had 15 pairs with him last year. Now, three.

In the event of an unforeseen move, packing up would be a bit simpler.

"We all signed up for this," Straily said. "But until it happens to you, you don't know how you're going to react."


What is it like to be forced to move on, via trade, from the only organization you have ever known? "It feels like that high school relationship you had and she dumped you," Straily said. For Straily, the breakup came out of nowhere July 4, 2014, when the A's sent him to the Cubs in a five-player deal.

It stings less after that, as a player gets older and more business-savvy and maybe a little cynical, but it's always a hassle. It helps that traded players are reimbursed for their moving expenses.

"It's just a logistical nightmare," Straily said. "You have to leave that day and leave it up to somebody else to clean up your life as you move to a new city."

Straily doesn't expect to be traded this season, but ...

"I'd be lying to you if I said I didn't have a plan already," he said.

That contingency plan is one born of necessity and experience. Straily would, if the circumstances demanded it, fly into town a relative, probably a parent-in-law, someone who could help his wife pack for a couple of turbulent days. He would use PODS, a moving/self-storage service, and have it shipped to his new city.

"It's the way you have to do things," Straily said. "It's not like I thought of that plan as I think I'm getting traded, because I truly don't think I am.

"But at the same time, if you don't have a plan and something happens, then you're caught off guard, then you're stressed, then you have all this other weight-of-the-world type issues you have to deal with."


Straily moved around a lot as a kid, so take it from him when he says settling into a clubhouse involves "a whole lot of unknown, first-day-of-school type of feelings."

"Walking into a new clubhouse that first day, it's still nerve-wracking," Straily said. "You know everybody, but you don't know them. You know who they are, because you've probably played against them, but you don't know who they are as a person, just as a player. It's a little uneasy."

His switch to the Marlins — in January, late in the offseason but in the offseason nonetheless — was made easier by teammates, including Dee Gordon and Tom Koehler, reaching out to say hello.

"Stuff like that, it eases you right away," Straily said. "Those guys made that transition, whether they know it or not, a little easier for me."

And then there is the matter of pressure. A traded player wants to make a good impression and validate his new team's decision, and that can affect performance.

"I went through that same challenge this year," Straily said. "It was fake pressure I put on myself. These guys knew what they were getting. As long as I don't show up and look like I should possibly be left-handed, I was going to make the team, because that's what they traded for me for."

There are major questions about this group of Marlins, which looks like it will remain together this season, even if the coming winter is another story.

Straily, for all the times he's been traded, has only experienced the player side of it. He knows the Marlins' brass — and eventual new owner — have difficult decisions to make.

"Whether it gets disassembled or not, this team has a lot of really good pieces," Straily said. "I would hate to be the general manager, I can tell you that much. That's a very tough job."

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