The Miami Marlins have to be very happy with the performance of Giancarlo Stanton thus far in 2014, as he has a shot at a National League MVP award this year. Stanton leads the National League in a significant number of offensive categories, and were it not for the blatantly spectacular season Clayton Kershaw was having with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Stanton would be a shoo-in for the award.
The Marlins clearly recognize this, and they know that they want to keep Stanton around to do this more often. According to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, the Marlins are preparing a huge contract offer for Stanton, the largest deal in franchise history.
The Marlins have plans.
Yes, expensive plans.
The Marlins plan to offer MVP candidate Giancarlo Stanton the most lucrative contract in franchise history. Even if they can't reach an agreement on a long-term contract extension this winter, the Marlins insist they will keep Stanton through at least the 2015 season, vowing to build a championship club around him.
The plan appears to be to offer Stanton the sort of record deal he would expect to receive as a free agent in a few years and the exact sort of record contract we were skeptical of the Marlins offering. Prior to 2014, the largest contract the team has ever offered was to free agent Jose Reyes, who received a seven-year deal worth $106 million with a $22 million dollar eighth-year option. This deal would not be close to approaching Stanton's likely value, as he staring down the barrel of a possible $300 million contract in two years once he hits the free agent market.
The Marlins would have to offer a competitive amount, but it is clear that they will also have to offer a competitive team for Stanton. The MVP candidate has always harped that the money is secondary to a winning effort and commitment from a team that all too quickly gives up on core members after short stays on the payroll.
"There has to be some progression moving forward,'' says Stanton. "You can't be just OK hanging around with the big boys. We have to turn it around and become one of the big boys.''
Stanton wants assurances the team is committed to winning. He remembering all of the hype two years ago with their free-agent haul, and the fire sale in November 2012, after the season went up in flames.
"It wasn't the trades that made me mad,'' Stanton says, "it was just how it all went down.''
Stanton's stance is very understandable. After the blockbuster Toronto Blue Jays trade, there were legitimate concerns about how it would affect Stanton and the team's chances at retaining players or attracting free agents. The Marlins will have to rebuild trust with Stanton and find a way to build a winning team around him for 2015, either before or after offering him an extension that will be worth more than any other contract Miami has offered before.
The Fish took strides to do that this season by signing Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Garrett Jones as medium-term staples at positions of need. While Jones was an awful signing, Saltalamacchia has mostly done his job in 2014 and is signed through 2016. The Marlins still have holes on their roster (including where Jones is), but the team could tempt Stanton to stay by providing him assistance this offseason via trades or free agent signings to fix the team's problems in the infield.
Will Stanton sign a deal this offseason? He certainly seems interested, and it appears as though his unhappiness with the franchise has somewhat passed thanks to a surprisingly competitive 2014 season. Still, "five months does not erase five years," and Stanton will still likely want to see changes before he puts his name on any dotted line for beyond 2016.