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Giancarlo Stanton wanted a lifetime contract with the Marlins

The press conference for yesterday's announcement of Giancarlo Stanton's 13-year, $325 million contract was a revealing one, and it showed that Stanton may be ready to commit to this team - and this deal - for his career.

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Yesterday, the Miami Marlins officially announced Giancarlo Stanton's mammoth 13-year, $325 million contract with the team in a press conference filled with smiles. Both sides were very happy with the results, as well they should be. The Marlins began the steps towards credibility by retaining their star talent through the prime of his career, and potentially for life. Stanton secured himself a lot of money over the course of his career, and he has all sorts of backup in the contract in case things go wrong. Miami agreed not only to a no-trade clause that would allow Stanton to dictate a deal if he wanted to, but they also gave him an opt-out of the contract after six years.

The whole contract is brand new territory for the Marlins, but the opt-out was particularly interesting. Traditionally, these clauses have been used to secure more money going forward, with almost every player who received this type of offer utilizing the ability. Only one player with an opt-out, Vernon Wells, declined to exercise his right to re-enter free agency. The timing of Stanton's opt-out was also pertinent. After six years, Stanton will be entering his age-31 season, around the same age that superstars like Robinson Cano, Albert Pujols, and Alex Rodriguez secured their monster 10-year deals in free agency. Ideally, this would be a perfect time for Stanton to opt out of a contract and set himself up for life, either with Miami on an even larger deal or with another team.

The majority of players would do such a thing, but at least in the early discussions about the contract negotiations, it does not sound like Stanton is one of those players. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald had some press conference backstage tidbits that were very interesting to unpack. It sounds initially like it was Stanton who wanted the lifetime contract, and that the Marlins initially came out with a deal that approached market value.

The Marlins’ first offer to Stanton was vastly different than the one he accepted. According to sources, the Marlins made a six-year, $130 million offer shortly after the season ended.

Agent Joel Wolfe said Stanton declined the offer and "had me tell them if it’s not a lifetime contract, there’s no point in talking. The offer wasn’t insulting but he didn’t want a traditional [Mike] Trout-type contract."


Read more here: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/sports-buzz/2014/11/update-on-marlins-free-agent-moves-behind-the-scenes-nuggets-on-stanton-.html#storylink=cpy

That six-year, $130 million contract would have paid Stanton slightly less money than Mike Trout, which is probably all that most fans will recognize. However, Stanton is only two years from free agency, so the earnings scale should have been different. In this initial offer, the Marlins are paying $25 million per year for four free agent seasons in addition to the approximately $30 million he might have earned in arbitration.

Such a contract is probably below market value, but not by a terrible amount. It would not have been an unreasonable deal, but Stanton and his agent Joel Wolfe declined because they wanted to the lifetime contract to start! Stanton requested the deal that would keep him in Miami for the long haul!

So the Marlins bought in, and they went to work discussing the potential contract.

[Team president David Samson] said Stanton asked a lot of "direct" questions. Such as: "Do you view the core of the team the way I view the core?... Are you looking to add more bats?"

The Marlins brass said yes to that "add more bats" question and then "we all said, to really do this, we need the next three years to be lower than market," Samson said. "It’s what the Heat did --- they took less to have more."

Stanton was on board with the idea and ultimately took $30 million over the next three.


Read more here: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/sports-buzz/2014/11/update-on-marlins-free-agent-moves-behind-the-scenes-nuggets-on-stanton-.html#storylink=cpy

Stanton agreed to take less money to provide the Marlins more payroll flexibility. For a player in the prime of his career, heading into free agency and sure-fire cash in just two years, this seems like an unprecedented move. The Marlins convinced Stanton to take less money so that the team could build around him earlier, making the six-year window of contention even more important. Stanton signed up to earn just around half of his expected salary each of the next three years, saving Miami about $27 million over those seasons.

This has an interesting added effect that makes you think he will stay for the long haul. Stanton's first six years of his contract are worth just $107 million, with $77 million of that tied to the last three years. The remaining seven years of his contract are worth $216 million, which is a huge sum of money to give up. Who knows what the baseball market will be like in six years, but suffice to say that as of right now, no player at age 31 has earned $30 million a year. That could change, but as of right now, the tail end of that contract holds a lot of the monetary value of this monster contract.

The deal is a stroke of genius for the Fish, who signed up for Stanton's prime years at well under the market rate and gave themselves an easy out in the opt-out to escape from paying a huge sum for a star player's decline years. But the way you hear both Stanton and the Marlins' brass describe the opt-out negotiation, you would think that it was a tenuous process to put the clause in.

"We said opt-out clauses historically have only been to get money," Samson said. "He said that’s not why we’re doing it. He said, ‘I don’t want an opt-out clause because of instead making $218 million over the last seven years, I want to make $219 million or $319 million…

"[He said], ‘I want to make sure I’m in a place where there’s sustained winning and a winning culture.’ Once we believed the opt-out clause would be used as a shield and not a sword, we were OK with it. That required some very direct questions to him, which we asked. They answered it correctly. As he pointed out, either way he makes the money."

While the opt-out was beneficial to both parties, it sounds as though the Marlins want to pay Stanton for 13 years. Their desire is to have him retire as a Marlin rather than cash in on his prime years. While Stanton opting out may not ultimately be a net negative for the Marlins, it appears as though the Fish would have only included this aspect of the deal if they knew Stanton had the right intentions with it.

And Stanton himself sounds like he wants to stay in one place for the rest of his life. He initially pushed for the lifetime deal. The opt-out for him was a security measure, as one would have expected such clauses to initially be. Stanton rightfully was still hesitant to lock up with Miami for so long after such a turbulent history of fire sales and inconsistency. The opt-out is his defense against that. And if the Marlins are as interested in keeping him as they sounded in their negotiations, they have to play their part in building a winning team around him.

The commitment has yet to be seen on either side. Six years is a long time, and opinions can change. We already know Jeffrey Loria can switch opinions in a heartbeat. But barring a carefully concocted group lie about the way negotiations were handled, it sounds as though both the Marlins and Stanton want to be together for the long haul. It is now up to the Marlins to ensure they get their wish.