Last week, we discussed the implications of Freddie Freeman's long-term extension on the status of Giancarlo Stanton. The basic point was that Freeman's contract essentially precluded Miami from signing Stanton because the deal was so expensive and early in the team control years. Dave Cameron of FanGraphs noted the same thing as well:
There’s no question that teams are throwing more and more money at players who haven’t reached free agency; this is the 15th extension of $100+ million signed in the last three years by a player who was still under team control for at least another year. Players no longer have to reach the open market in order to obtain nine figure contracts, and as we’ve seen with Joey Votto, Elvis Andrus, and now Freddie Freeman, players don’t even have to get to their walk year to land a monster extension anymore. And while this shift towards big money deals for non-free agents is a new thing in MLB, it might be part of an ongoing trend that is shifting baseball’s payroll distribution back to what it was before "the PED era".
Essentially, Cameron goes on to explain that this has been a market correction for the PED era's trend of paying older players more of the share of the total revenue. Now that the PED era's aging lions are mostly out of baseball, the game is reverting to redistribute the wealth to players ages 26 to 30. And as Cameron notes, that is probably the right thing to do, since players of that age tend to be the most productive. The fact that they are still under team control has not stemmed the tide of this so-called "correction."
But the Marlins, being a team that chronically complains of being cash-strapped and neglected at the stadium by its fans, cannot follow that ongoing tide. Miami is clearly at risk of losing Stanton within the next two years to a trade simply because Miami cannot afford $100 million-plus, eight-year contracts that could tie up the majority of their payroll. Aside from one seemingly foolhardy season, owner Jeffrey Loria has shown no interest in investing into the club's payroll, and there is no reason to believe that that will change.
Oddly enough, that has not yet fully deterred Stanton from the idea of signing a long-term contract with the Marlins, according to the latest from MLB.com's Joe Frisaro.
Miami officials have repeatedly said publicly they would like to sign Stanton to a multiyear deal. But the two sides agreed early in the offseason to hammer out a contract for 2014 and then wait and see.
Stanton clearly wants to see results.
"In order for the team to have security, that doesn't happen in two seconds," he said. "That happens over a season or over two seasons. You show me that, and we can get something going."
Stanton says the word "security" quite often in that article, and he means it in the sense that he wants the security of a long-term deal and, it would seem, long-term team viability. The Marlins are obviously at least interested in the former, but the latter remains a concern. The Fish clearly have a bright future between its current set of interesting players and its talented farm system. The problem of finding a star beside Stanton is solved with Jose Fernandez taking the world by storm last season. The Marlins surprisingly have very few problems at the top of the roster, and there is promise deep within the bowels of the farm.
The problem is how Miami will bridge the gap in between. The franchise is going to struggle in 2014, and the odds are on it struggling in 2015 as well. Why would Stanton commit to a losing franchise? More importantly, what could the Marlins even really do to convince him about the team's long-term "security" as a contender in the NL East? Given five patient years, Miami could prove to be a good spot to settle down long-term, but the Fish really have just two seasons and change at best to convince Stanton. There may just not be enough time.
This does not account for the money issue and the team's checkered past. Miami may say that they want Stanton long-term, but the precedent for such a deal has been set. If the team waits until 2015 or right before 2016 to sign a contract, it might look like a 12-year, Joey Votto-style pact, which would be too much for the team to swallow. Given the team's onerous history of fire sales and rebuilds on the whimsy of a difficult owner, how can Stanton be convinced of "security" in such a place?
The questions Stanton brings up are legitimate ones; after all, he would be signing away a potentially larger payday in free agency by signing an extension now. If that's the case, can Miami deliver on the promise of "security," given their historical pitfalls? The good money is still on "no."
- Mike Dunn interview: Spring Training for the Troops, Marlins, and the 2014 season
- The reason behind the 2014 Marlins patchwork offseason
- Miami Marlins sign reliever Chaz Roe to minor league contract
- Miami Marlins confident in 2014 bullpen after key additions
- Fish Bites: Marlins' Perry Hill named baseball's best infield instructor