Fish Stripes Inbox: Stanton extension, Baker, Marlins' chances

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The latest inbox article from MLB.com's Joe Frisaro asks about the ongoing Giancarlo Stanton situation, the Jeff Baker signing, and the chances of the Marlins being a competitive team this year.

The latest inbox article by MLB.com's Joe Frisaro came out recently, and as always, I am here to give my spin on those answers for the Fish Stripes readership. Here are some of the biggest questions Marlins fans want answered.

Seeing what the Braves have done with Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman, why can't the Marlins do something like that to lock up Giancarlo Stanton?
-- Jordan M., Atlanta

As we discussed yesterday, the Marlins are highly unlikely to be able to offer Giancarlo Stanton the sort of deal Freddie Freeman received. Freeman got a mammoth contract the size of a free agent commitment from a few years ago. As prices increase thanks to the booming revenue streams in baseball, even these "team-friendly" extensions for players are beginning to get more and more expensive. The Marlins would have loved to offer Stanton a deal that bought out three of his free agent years at a rate closer to that of the Hanley Ramirez contract, but with contracts to Buster Posey and Freeman setting a new precedent for deals to star talents in their first arbitration years, this goal seems impossible now.

The Jason Heyward contract was completely different. Heyward signed a two-year deal because his output has been all over the place. In his rookie season, he was an All-Star player. His next year was, relatively speaking, injury-laden and ugly. He was a star again in 2012, then injured often again in 2013. Both sides hedged their bets on a two-year contract. Stanton, on the other hand, does not feel like he deserves that sort of treatment after only one down season. He would rather go year-to-year, especially since it seems he has less interest in committing long-term to Miami than the Marlins have in keeping him.

The Marlins and Stanton never got to the negotiating table even though Miami was interested. Both sides have to want to do this, and so far, neither is ready to make the leap.

From what I've seen, Jeff Baker is one of the most interesting utility guys out there. I really like this signing. What are your thoughts?
-- Tony P., Hollywood, Fla.

I found this line very interesting from Frisaro.

Showing a two-year commitment is another sign that the organization is trying to build a strong foundation.

Baker is serving as a platoon partner for Garrett Jones, not a core piece for the franchise. Until Miami is capable of committing to its core stars over the long haul, two-year deals to marginal veterans will not show anything about building a strong foundation.

My thoughts on the Jeff Baker signing can be found here, of course. The move was a smart one on principle, but Baker seems to be an extraneous piece given what Miami had already.

Who is going to play third base?
-- Manuel C., Coral Gables, Fla.

Casey McGehee is slated to play third base. Donovan Solano and Baker, to a lesser extent, are expected to back up McGehee. Now that the team has signed Baker, McGehee is not likely to spend a lot of time as Jones's platoon partner at first base like initially expected. It should be an interesting experience to see if he can handle Major League pitching after spending a year in Japan.

On a scale of 1 to 10, what are the chances of the Marlins being a playoff team?
-- Bobby O., Tamarac, Fla.

The Marlins' offseason has been a relative success, as the team has made a move or two of interest and has probably improved the club overall since last year. Combine that with natural regression to the mean for a variety of underachieving players and Miami's win total should be on the way up.

That being said, we have to tone down our expectations. Miami has a shot at doing decently in the NL East division; MLB.com beat writer Alden Gonzalez picked them to finish third in the division (H/T Marlin Maniac), and it is possible that the club will outperform the mess that is the New York Mets and the aging Philadelphia Phillies. But the Fish are still closer to the National League cellar than to the playoffs, and I suspect the team should be happy with a 70-win campaign after failing to break that mark for two straight years. On the proposed scale, I would give Miami a "1" chance.

With the influx of prospects and how deep the Marlins' Minor League system is, could you see them making a big splash by acquiring a big-name player?
-- Ronald R., Pembroke Pines, Fla.

The Marlins do have ample depth in the pitching prospect department, but chances are Miami will let that depth develop and see what they end up with once those players reach their developmental apex. The club has a major issue with retaining talent and increasing payroll, meaning it will have a hard time making a "big-name player" acquisition, as often times those players are either locked up in a large, long-term deal or heading towards one in the near future. The Fish are a lot less likely to make a Wil Myers-for-James Shields mistake than other teams.

Now, once the club is closer to contention, perhaps in a few years' time, then Miami could consider dealing from depth to acquire a player for their push to contention. But seeing as though that is not this season or likely next year either, the Marlins are content to see what they have in their pitching prospects and take it from there.

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