Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria had a problem with current Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, and after Loria let him go, it wasn't long before the Braves hired Gonzalez to replace Bobby Cox. Loria and team President David Samson never like to use the blueprints of opposing teams, and nothing will change this offseason.
There were 146 arbitration-eligible players heading into the offseason, and of all of them, right fielder Giancarlo Stanton received the third largest pay increase. The only two who topped him were the two Braves who received multi-year contract extensions within the last few weeks.
Financially, the Marlins are never quick to issue lenghthy contracts. But Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez could point to the contracts Freddie Freeman and Julio Teheran received when they are ready to negotiate.
Stanton according to the Associated Press received a 12-fold increase from $537,000 to $6.5 million. Like Stanton, Freddie Freeman was arbitration-eligible for the first time and garnered an eight-year, $135 million contract. That’s a 30-fold increase from $560,000 to an average annual value of $16.75 million.
Freeman teammate Craig Kimbrel went from $560,000 to a $10.5 million AAV with a four-year, $42 million deal. Two Braves’ players– shortstop Andrelton Simmons (seven years, $58 million) and pitcher Julio Teheran (six years, $32.4 million) – were not arbitration eligible. All totaled, the Braves committed $280.7 million to keeping their homegrown core intact.
Freeman in 2013 batted .319 while driving in 109 runs. Compared to Stanton's .249 average and 69 RBIs, the extension is well-deserved. While both were arbitration-eligible for the first time, Stanton refused to discuss the possibility of an extension until the Marlins prove that they can win consistently.
While Miami isn't likely to immediately extend closer Steve Cishek like Atlanta did with Kimbrel, an extension with Jose Fernandez is realistic, with the timing in question. Teheran, like Fernandez, was not arbitration eligible, but the Braves' front office wasn't hesitant to sign him long-term.
Samson noted that the Atlanta extensions shape the market in a way that gives players a situation to compare themselves to.
"Every time there is a signing we all talk and say what impact is this having, how do they compare to the players we have, does it change our view of when to offer a long-term deal to particular players," Samson said in a Sun-Sentinel interview. "All contracts impact that decision because the players see it. Stanton knows what Freddie signed for. Jose knows what Teheran just got."
The Braves bought out three of shortstop Andrelton Simmons' free agent seasons, and bought out the first of Teheran. At this point, buying out three of Fernandez's free agent years would mean a seven year extension that the Marlins are likely not ready to give.
"Does it make it more complicated?," Samson asked. "Of course. That's why as an industry we're partners and when there are contracts signed it can impact the industry.We have not changed our view of pre-arbitration long-term deals. Our view is that if you're going to sign players pre-arbitration and give them that security, you want to get some free agent years."
Miami is known to be particularly cautious when considering whether or not to extend a pitcher. Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco are the only two pitchers to get multi-year contracts in their respective arbitration deals under the current ownership group. Similarly, Mike Lowell and Hanley Ramirez are the only two position players to get multi-year extensions of three years or more while still arbitration-eligible.
While Fernandez has time before starting to negotiate an extension, it would take a Freeman-like deal to lock Stanton up long term.
"We're very similar so obviously that's around the contract to be reached somewhere I guess, but that's not like, 'He got this, I'm going to work for this.'" Stanton said. "Our careers are very similar, yes...[A multi-year extension] really wasn't pushed very much.We're going to let this play out and see where we're at."