The Miami Marlins have rarely offered deals to players who were not prime building blocks for the future of the franchise. The last time a player over the age of 30 received a contract over one year, it was John Buck, and he was coming off a surprising All-Star season with the Toronto Blue Jays. Two years later, he was traded quietly back to the Jays, and he has bounced around ever since. The Fish famously held their stance against Dan Uggla when he wanted a long-term deal, holding the line at four years and $48 million. When Uggla declined, Miami traded him, and they've looked better for it ever since.
But with rumors coming that the Fish may consider trading their 31-year-old third baseman Casey McGehee a little more than half a season into his career year, the Fish began denying this. In fact, according to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, not only is McGehee not available for trade, he may be a part of the team's short-term future with a contract extension.
McGehee, signed for $1.1 million, has one more season of arbitration eligibility. So the Marlins can retain him in 2015, at a sizeable raise. Miami also is open to offering the third baseman an extension for a few more seasons.
McGehee has offered protection behind Giancarlo Stanton, and he’s been a clubhouse leader.
Right now, Miami views McGehee as a core player, who is under club control. There are no plans to move him.
On the surface, this seems like a ridiculous move. As Frisaro mentions, McGehee has one more year of arbitration available, meaning the Marlins have no reason to commit to extra years beyond this one. They have the option of offering arbitration and keeping McGehee one more season at a very reduced rate. That should be enough to have him serve as a stopgap for the eventual arrival of Colin Moran, who is progressing slower than expected through the low minors.
An extension would tie up Miami's funds and commit them to more years than would be necessary for McGehee, especially given the "third baseman of the future" status of Moran. Moran is 21 years old this season and should be ready by 2016 at this stage. Extending McGehee beyond this season might block Moran from his future post at third.
It also commits longer-term money to a player who is aging and could disappear at any second. Yes, McGehee's new approach at the plate is real, but it's worth noting that before he hit age 30, he already had one career collapse. It is certainly possible McGehee has fundamentally changed himself as a player, but rare is the fundamental change that makes a .365 BABIP a lasting thing. In the next few years, you should expect McGehee's numbers to falter, especially three years down the line in 2017.
But the Marlins have other considerations beyond McGehee's play. With him playing so well in 2014, the Fish would once again look predatory and stingy by trading him for unproven prospects, and the club is trying to impress upon Giancarlo Stanton that they are not trying to rebuild. The Marlins fear trading McGehee would send the wrong message to Stanton and hasten his exit from south Florida.
The Fish could also consider McGehee the team's future first baseman. Garrett Jones is only signed through next year and likely will not return, and Miami has no first base options in the minors. The team could shift McGehee to first in the long run, preventing a stopgap at third. But the concern over McGehee's bat remains real, and that concern would only be amplified while playing first base.
It is unlikely Miami turns to this route on a soon-to-be 33-year-old McGehee, and it is much more likely the Fish pay him his expected due in arbitration and let him walk next year. If Stanton is traded sometime in the next year, this point also becomes entirely moot. But stay tuned here at Fish Stripes for all your Marlins rumor needs!