Giancarlo Stanton "needs a season" to evaluate Miami Marlins

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Star outfielder Gianacarlo Stanton recently said that he likes the Marlins' progression towards competitiveness but he still "needs a season" to determine if Miami is the best place for him long-term.

Star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton has made it known in the past that he is willing to sign a long-term deal with the Miami Marlins provided the team gives him a reason to do so. Stanton, by all accounts, would like to attach himself to a winner, and the Marlins are not currently an ideal candidate in that respect.

But the FIsh made strides to turn the tides this offseason with at least one key free agent signing and a commitment to at least try and win a few more games this season. And according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports, Stanton believes that that is a decent start.

"There's a good vibe here," Stanton says, before adding, "and I'd say so if it wasn't."

Still, Stanton is not yet prepared to commit and said he "needs a season" to reassess the team and its direction.

Before making the plunge, Stanton very respectfully admitted in the interview here that he'd "need a season" seeing the team before contemplating locking himself into anything long term. Can't blame him there.

And actually, the Marlins, while signing Stanton to a generous first-year arbitration-eligible salary of $6.5 million, more than a ten-fold raise from $537,000 the year before following a largely disappointing season in which he hit .249 with 24 home runs, sent out a feeler about a possible long-term deal though agent Joel Wolfe. However, Stanton wasn't quite ready to commit, and he said so. As he said, he needs to see a season.

The Marlins should be more than happy about that, as that sentiment is an improvement over a very frustrated and upset Stanton who sounded off a few times after last offseason's fire sale trade with the Toronto Blue Jays.

"I like that," first-year Marlins GM Dan Jennings, the upbeat new leader contributing to the positive feeling, said upon hearing Stanton's positive early review. "Happy players are better players."

Both sides appear happier now than they were just a season ago. But does that bode well for the Marlins' chances of re-signing Stanton to a long-term deal? That question remains to be answered, if only because both sides are still wary of the obstacles that remain in the way.

Stanton may be happy with where the Marlins are before the 2014 season, and the team is indeed a better squad than the 2013 team. But improving from 62 wins to 70 wins, much of it by regression rather than the additions of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and company, is not going to satisfy a potentially great player just two years away from a major free agent payday. The Marlins need to prove to Stanton that their foundation of Jose Fernandez, Saltalamacchia, Christian Yelich, and a cavalcade of decent-to-great starting pitching prospects can carry the franchise. That may require showcasing some of that young talent in midseason, when guys like Andrew Heaney or Adam Conley are expected to be ready for a trial run at the big show. It may be continued improvement from Rookie of the Year Fernandez and expected franchise cornerstone Yelich, who may be the only hitter assisting Stanton in 2014. Those things are all still up in the air, and Stanton's re-evaluation of the franchise's position will hinge on those aspects.

The Marlins also have to do some evaluating. The franchise wants Stanton, but it particularly wants a Stanton closer to 2012 than 2013. His struggles staying healthy and following up on a monster 2012 campaign have to be causing concern among the Marlins' brass. If Stanton is re-signed, it will likely be to the longest and most expensive contract in Marlins history, eclipsing the six-year deal the Fish gave to Jose Reyes and at least rivaling the eight-year deal Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman received. It would be the first time the Marlins hand out a seven- or eight-year deal and may even require an essentially career-length commitment given Stanton's star power. Miami would have to be certain that Stanton is the player they want to commit to long-term if the team is going to spend its limited funds on him. In addition, there is not even a guarantee Miami has the money to pay such a contract or is willing to do so for any player, let alone one with question marks like Stanton.

So while both sides are happy where they are right now, the chances of an extension happening after this season remain extremely low. The Marlins are far more likely to trade Stanton by the 2015 offseason than commit to him until 2022. The conversation and cordial terms between the two parties still do not change this likelihood.

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