The Marlins are having a better season than expected. They entered Wednesday night in the thick of the race for the second wild card position, and just a game back of the Mets in the standings.

Those hard-earned good vibes haven't stopped anyone from playing the what-if game, however -- not after Clark Spencer's report in the Miami Herald that the Marlins chose Justin Nicolino in the Jose Reyes trade instead of Aaron Sanchez or Noah Syndergaard.

Here's Spencer:

According to sources with knowledge of trade discussions with the Blue Jays in November 2012 -- the 11-player exchange in which the Marlins salary-dumped Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle -- the Marlins were given a choice of three prized prospects who had spent the previous summer at Single A Lansing.

Syndergaard, Sanchez and Nicolino.

Take your pick.


Noah Syndergaard could've been a member of the Marlins. USATSI

Per Spencer, the Marlins chose Nicolino due to his polish and status as a southpaw. Fair to say they'd probably like a mulligan now.

Despite his polish, Nicolino was the last to reach the majors. What's more is he's had the least big-league success so far -- in no small part because of his inability to miss bats with his fastball-changeup combination (he was at 27 strikeouts in 55 innings this season prior to his recent demotion).

The other two have had no such trouble. Syndergaard may have left his Wednesday start with a barking elbow, but he's been one of the best starters in the game since his May 2015 debut. Sanchez, meanwhile, has made a successful transition from the bullpen to the rotation, posting a 125 ERA+ and a strikeout-to-walk ratio nearing 3.00.

Of course, as fun as it is to imagine a Marlins rotation led by Jose Fernandez and Syndergaard (or Sanchez), the truth is we'll never know how things would've worked out if the Marlins had picked one or the other. Maybe Syndergaard never becomes "Thor," or maybe Sanchez is just a setup man. That mystery is part of the fun, though -- well, unless you're the Marlins.