The Miami Marlins' top priority this offseason, according to our 2014 Fish Stripes Marlins Offseason Plan, is to secure Giancarlo Stanton for the long haul in Miami. The Fish have a player whom, up until last season, was the first legitimate star the team had developed in-house since Miguel Cabrera. Stanton is entering his first season of arbitration and the Marlins need to secure him with a long-term extension in order to kick off a strong core.
Joe Frisaro of MLB.com believes that the Marlins need to sell stability, especially in the clubhouse, to Stanton before they can consider retaining him.
Frisaro mentions that Stanton has also had five different hitting coaches since arriving in the big leagues in 2010. The Marlins have had major turmoil in the coaching staff since he initially arrived, primarily because the fickle Jeffrey Loria has been unable to determine the identity and long-term goals of the franchise. In 2012, he wanted to infuse a winning culture with free agent acquisitions and a veteran manager, only to have the entire season backfire in spectacular fashion. Rather than attempt to work out the kinks from 2012, he rebooted the franchise in 2013 just one season after rebooting it for the new stadium launch.
The high number of managers and hitting coaches is endemic of the franchise's decision-making process, and that issue begins with Loria. But Miami has a stable, relatively unassuming manager in Mike Redmond now and will have, for the second straight season, very low expectations for in-season success. For the time being, the Fish should expect stability in terms of the coaching staff, even after the Tino Martinez incident. Provided Loria does not put undue expectations on this young roster, Redmond should be allowed to stick around through the duration of his three-year contract.
The question now is about the rest of the franchise. Can the Marlins provide Stanton a promise of stability in the roster around him? The current crop of players is still a mix of stopgap veterans and young core pieces, but the 2014 squad should be angling more towards the latter. Jose Fernandez, Christian Yelich, Nathan Eovaldi, and others seem to be a part of an important mix for the next three-plus years, so the Marlins have the makings of a core to surround Stanton. The pitch for extending Stanton this offseason is the promise of playing with talented young stars and compete in the next two to three years.
But Miami has yet to show that it is willing to stick to a long-term plan should difficulties arise. It has also broken a significant amount of trust by getting rid of recent free agent signings and going back on their word on those players. It seems an impossible hurdle for Loria and the franchise to leap when it comes to convincing Stanton that stability is around the corner. How can the franchise prove that in the coming years?
It helps that the Fish have promoted new leadership in the front office. New president of baseball operations Michael Hill and general manager Dan Jennings are not entirely fresh, but they are new faces who could take on new ideas at the head of the front office. Then again, Stanton should know by now that the meddling Loria has the final say on all decisions and is bound to make moves based on his own whim. With the Marlins hiring internally, the odds are smaller that the new regime will bring radical change in their ideology.
The Marlins could try and show commitment by discussing the possibility of extensions with young stars like Fernandez or Yelich. This is something we have discussed before, but is highly unlikely as well. Now that Fernandez has won the Rookie of the Year, any thoughts of an extension would be significantly more expensive. And while it would be nice for the Fish to attempt this with Yelich, the franchise has no track record of wanting to commit to unproven players longer than they need to.
The Marlins are risk-averse and penny-pinching, and those aspects have led to the team lacking stability in all areas since 2010. Stanton will want to feel secure if he remains with the franchise, and outside of offering the no-trade clause the team seems adamantly against, it appears like providing that stability may be too great a challenge for this franchise.