Extending Giancarlo Stanton may have been enough, but the Miami Marlins did not get complacent. After extending Stanton in November, the Marlins are reportedly close to a 7-year, $49.57 million extension, which includes an option, with Christian Yelich. Yelich is only 23, and signing him long term ensures future outfield stability.
Signing Stanton to a lengthy deal was Miami's first offseason goal, and the club was able to get it done quickly. Before the start of spring training, the Marlins upgraded the lineup by adding Dee Gordon, Michael Morse, and Martin Prado, and added starting depth by acquiring Mat Latos and Dan Haren. With Stanton under contract, despite an opt out clause, the Marlins are in "win now" mode.
Miami had one of the best outfields in baseball in 2014 (by WAR), and the unit is only expected to improve in 2015. Stanton will hit deep home runs. Marcell Ozuna will cover a spacious Marlins Park center field and bat in the middle of the lineup. And Yelich will quietly have success at the top of the order and in left field.
Yelich won a Gold Glove in left field last season and is seen as a potential two or three hitter. In 144 games with the Marlins last season, he posted a .284/.362/.402 batting line to complement nine home runs and 54 RBIs. He was taken in the first round of the 2010 draft, and is one of several Marlins to recently progress through Miami's minor league system and make an impact at the major league level. In parts of two major league seasons, Yelich is a career .285 hitter. While his power is still evolving, he has proven he can make a notable impact both in front of or behind Stanton in the lineup.
After 2016, Yelich was going to be arbitration eligible, and he would have been a free agent after 2019. Once the deal is announced, Yelich will be under contract through 2021.
Both offensively and defensively, the Marlins' outfield has proven to be valuable. Yelich can be a two or three hitter moving forward, with Stanton anchoring the offense and Ozuna providing some power. All three have been able to man the gaps of Marlins Park, and extending Yelich ensures the Marlins will have outfield stability and consistency. Whereas in years past the organization had to fill several holes on the roster, over the next few seasons, the outfield will not be a concern. The Marlins want to win now, and signing Yelich to an extension should prove to be beneficial in the near future.