The Miami Marlins and Giancarlo Stanton recently agreed to avoid arbitration and finish off a one-year deal for the 2014 season. This was almost certainly going to happen before arbitration, as Miami would not have wanted to get into an argument with its star slugger over money. The Fish now do not have to go to the arbiter and argue against Stanton and his unspectacular 2013 season versus Stanton's historic home run pace.
But the arbitration decision for Miami and Stanton essentially guarantees that the Fish are not talking contract extension with their 24-year-old right fielder. MLB.com's Joe Frisaro confirmed that this is the case.
For months, Miami had stated it was open to discussing a multi-year deal with the 24-year-old right fielder. Such conversations never took place between the club and Stanton's agent, Joel Wolfe of the Wasserman Media Group. The reason is both sides felt the timing wasn't right.
Instead of at least sketching out the framework of what a major deal would look like, negotiations centered specifically on working something out for the upcoming season. By hammering out the agreement on Friday, the two parties came away pleased with how the process played out.
"From the outset, I think it was in everyone's interest to try [to] reach a fair and amicable settlement on a one-year contract," Wolfe told MLB.com. "We accomplished that. Now, Giancarlo can focus exclusively on getting ready for the season. He is pleased with the result and [is] looking forward to Spring Training."
According to the above, it sounds as though Miami and Stanton did not even reach the negotiation table this offseason due to the timing not being "right." The Fish did show interest, but the description makes it sound as though Stanton and his agent were not as much.
If that were the case, it would surprise no one in the Marlins fandom. Contrary to the spree of free agent signings Miami made in the offseason, particularly that of Jarrod Saltalamacchia, the Marlins are not an attractive long-term destination for star talent like Stanton's. If he does hit free agency, the Los Angeles Dodgers are considered the favorites to land him, but until that time, Stanton has no need to guarantee himself to the Marlins and can opt to go year-to-year with the team. If his desire is to be elsewhere eventually, a team-friendly contract extension is not in his favor.
The timing not being "right" is an interesting comment, because as we have mentioned before, the timing for an extension this season was crucial.
Such a contract would be worth six years and $69 million, essentially the same contract Hanley Ramirez got from the Marlins in 2008. It is a reasonable contract, but it is most certainly the Marlins' last chance to offer the deal. Next year, you can expect Stanton to want five or six free agent years at closer to a market value of $17 million a season or more. After a projected five-win campaign at age 24 in 2014, Stanton could expect to command $20 million a year on the open market easily given the contracts players like Matt Holliday have signed in the past. A signing after his first arbitration year may require an eight-year contract worth $130 million, with perhaps no discount on the free agent years.
The difference in expected contracts is worth something like $60 million to the team, with added years on top of those. Getting a deal done this season would have been critical, because an extension beginning in the second arbitration season would have required more years of commitment (to mimic a long free agent signing that would happen in two years) and a heftier monetary commitment to compensate for those extra free agent seasons. By focusing on just the one-year deal to cover 2014, the Marlins at best have cost themselves $60 million more for three more years of control and at worst have forgone their opportunity for a long-term deal with Stanton.
With the 2014 season locked up, the Marlins are quickly running out chances to sign Stanton long-term. With the problems the club has had in procuring a deal, it is looking increasingly likely that this will be the last season Stanton plays in a Miami uniform.
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