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Miami Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton 'favorite to sign with Dodgers' in free agency

Last weekend, a source familiar with the situation told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald that Giancarlo Stanton loves spending the offseason in Los Angeles, and that the Dodgers are a favorite to land the slugger if he reaches free agency in 2016.

Bob Levey

For Giancarlo Stanton and the Miami Marlins, the 2014 season will determine the future. After an injury plagued 2013, despite offseason reports that the Marlins were internally discussing giving Stanton an extension, the Marlins are going to wait and see how the right fielder bounces back before deciding to sign him long-term.

Stanton has publicly expressed his discontent with the Marlins at times, most notably after the trade with Toronto which sent a core of Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio, and John Buck to the Blue Jays.

Stanton will not be a free agent until after the 2016 season. Last weekend, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, quoting an MLB source familiar with the situation, reported that having spent most of the offseason in Los Angeles, the Dodgers are a favorite to land Stanton if he doesn't reach a long-term agreement with the Marlins.

An MLB source who has spent time with Giancarlo Stanton this offseason said he seems increasingly smitten with the Dodgers and the Hollywood lifestyle and part-time owner Magic Johnson and has buddied up with Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp. The Dodgers are the front-runner to land him when he becomes a free agent after 2016. The Marlins very likely would consider dealing him next winter if he rejects an expected multiyear offer in the coming months.

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An extension is not expected to be reached before the start of the season. Several offseason discussions have had the Marlins extending Stanton an offer after a solid 2014. If Stanton refuses to stay in Miami after 2016, the Marlins, as Jackson noted, may be willing to trade him.

In 116 games last season, the power hitting outfielder batted .249 with 24 home runs and alternated between the three or cleanup spots in the lineup for most of the year.

After the Winter Meetings, President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill noted that all of the team's offensive signings were based on protecting Stanton in the lineup.

Internal discussions may begin to resume between the two parties at some point this season, though the Marlins, at the earliest, might not be willing to discuss the terms of an extension during the regular season. Owner Jeffrey Loria upset his front office when he extended the contract of Greg Dobbs during the summer. Miami tends to deal with all contract matters after the season

Should the Marlins find out Stanton has no interest in returning, a trade is a strong possibility. The return would depend on Stanton's productivity at the given time.

Other Chatter: Marlins looking to add outfielder

In another column, Jackson reports that while the Marlins are confident in Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna, they are looking to add another outfielder.

Joe Benson and Brian Bogusevic are expected to compete for a backup outfield spot.

The Marlins are confident Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna(who played well in winter ball) will capably handle starting spots alongside Giancarlo Stanton, but they are exploring adding another outfielder for depth and other reasons and are looking at several options, including Delmon Young, 28, who hit .260 with 11 homers and 38 RBI for Philadelphia and Tampa Bay last season. Young has a home here and would have interest, but the question is whether he would get enough playing time.

The Marlins have a left-handed hitting backup outfielder in veteran Brian Bogusevic, acquired from the Cubs for Justin Ruggiano. Young, a right-handed hitter, hypothetically could fill in at first base and the outfield, playing some against lefties --- a weakness of new starting first baseman Garrett Jones.

The Marlins also might add one or two more veteran relievers to minor-league contracts, with invitations to spring training.

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