The Miami Marlins did not talk to Giancarlo Stanton about a potential contract extension this offseason, and they are not planning on doing so after the right fielder and the team agreed to a one-year deal worth $6.5 million for the 2014 season. But as we have mentioned before, this season was likely the last critical year the Marlins could presumably sign a contract with Stanton. After this year, Stanton's prices will no longer be very team friendly on a long-term deal, and the Marlins may not be willing to shell out a hefty sum for Stanton to stay for eight seasons.
With Stanton likely to leave in the near future, the Marlins will eventually have to turn their attention to the next batch of strong prospects whom the team could keep around for a while. Already, one player has separated himself from the pack, as Jose Fernandez had a spectacular rookie season in 2013 and could be the first player up for a potential deal. Which other Marlins could receive contract extensions in the next three or so years?
Fernandez, thanks to his Rookie of the Year campaign, is the first name to be considered for a long-term deal. But there are hurdles in trying to secure him to any deal. First is the obvious question of production. Fernandez would not be signed for a few more years, and by then the Marlins will have a better idea of whether he remains deserving of a major extension to avoid a Clayton Kershaw-like contract or if he is one of many young aces who flame out early due to injury or ineffectiveness. A performance too weak would not merit a major extension, but a performance too great may price him out of the Marlins' range.
There is the additional issue of Fernandez's agent, Scott Boras. Boras is not likely to let Fernandez accept a deal too team-friendly because his job and reputation is finding his clients top-notch deals. Fernandez would never accept a below-market price like the Tampa Bay Rays have gotten from some of their top players because it does not serve Boras well. The price for Fernandez's talent may be artificially higher, or at the very least negotiations may be more difficult, thanks to Boras's presence.
Miami also had a previous policy with pitcher extensions. Recall that this was a concern when the Fish were discussing a contract with Josh Johnson, to whom the team did not want to commit due to injury concerns. Miami had previously set a hard line against contracts with pitchers over three years, but they relented with Johnson.
Ultimately, a deal may only occur if Fernandez does not develop into a premium talent. If he does, expect Scott Boras to extract the best contract possible in free agency.
Yelich may be a better opportunity for Miami. Unlike Fernandez, Yelich's CAA agency is not known to garner landmark results (or difficult negotiations) for clients, and Yelich has yet to establish himself as a star. Like Fernandez, production going forward would be key, but Yelich's pedigree hopefully will eventually lead to good results.
The added benefit of Yelich's potential extension is the greater likelihood of results paying off for Miami. As a hitter, Yelich represents less variance in performance and likelihood for collapse than someone like Fernandez. Even the greatest pitchers can pop a ligament and lose major time at any point in their careers, and a long extension could quickly turn south if such a thing happened. With the Marlins having little financial flexibility, it may be daunting for them to go after a pitcher's extension versus a hitter like Yelich.
If Yelich develops into the next great Marlins hitter, expect Miami to jump to extending him in a way they did not with Stanton. It is possible that Yelich will develop with fewer outstanding skills and fewer outstanding flaws, which makes for an easier player to lock up long term. His lack of top-notch power would also make prices a little lighter.
Eovaldi is an interesting choice because, of the three young starters not named Fernandez in the rotation, he has the highest upside. Eovaldi's fastball is among the hardest in the game, but his secondary work leaves much to be desired. At this stage, he will be one of three starters who will go year-to-year with the Marlins during arbitration, but unlike Henderson Alvarez and Jacob Turner, there is an off chance that he flips a switch and hits a higher level of play. If that is the case, the Marlins would have an easier time extending him than Fernandez, who is already in an elite stratosphere and would not come cheap.
However, similar problems with the Marlins' hesitation with pitchers exist. If Eovaldi proves to just be above average, the Marlins would take no chances in extending him or anyone of his caliber more than three years. At that level of play, one could still expect a three-year contract like what the Fish gave Ricky Nolasco.
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