Eight months ago, Kim Ng became the first female General Manager in MLB history. Today, as we’re approaching the MLB All-Star break, she’s on the verge of making one of her biggest decisions to date: whether or not to extend pending free agent Starling Marté.
According to the Miami Herald on Monday, the negotiations finally began to progress when the Marlins’ front office “presented a multi-year contract extension offer to Marté.” Financial terms are still unknown (the original published version of the article said the terms were three years and $30 million, but that was quickly changed). The veteran center fielder is “seeking a three- or four-year deal in the $50 million range.”
This is where Ng’s mind, determination, and personality come into play. With a payroll that currently has very few commitments for 2022 and beyond, $50 million would not be much of a risk for the Marlins. In fact, I dare to say that it could be a steal, considering how valuable Marté is.
Marté, who will turn 33 years old in October, is the kind of player that the Marlins need in the long run. In his two seasons in Miami, he’s offered a 2.9 bWAR across 74 games. Through Monday, Starling has posted a .272/.358/.434/.792 slash line as a Marlin, along with 13 doubles, 10 home runs, 31 ribbies, 52 runs scored, 19 stolen bases (21 attempts), and 29 walks. His speed, defense, and hitting could easily be valued much higher in terms of dollars.
Marté has leverage. Without him, the Marlins would move into next season with an outfield that’s reliant on youngsters who have poor MLB track records (or no experience at all). Adam Duvall can test free agency for himself by declining a $7 million mutual option. Part-time right fielder Garrett Cooper profiles more as a designated hitter moving forward because of durability concerns and below-average defense.
The clock is ticking fast for the Marlins, who should and need to be flexible with Marté's request. He’s someone who feels comfortable in Miami and wants to keep wearing their colors, besides the fact that he could serve as a mentor for younger guys such as JJ Bleday and Jesús Sánchez. They need to give him what he asks for while it’s still reasonable, say, something around $13-17 million annually.
Remember how many times I have said that the Marlins must eventually spend big dollars? With a promising farm and the talented rotation they have, this is the perfect time to build a better lineup. Locking in Marté could be the beginning of transforming the offense from inconsistent to a legitimate strength.
Also according to the Miami Herald, Marté “will likely be traded on or before July 30 if there is no agreement on a new pact.” Speaking to Christina De Nicola of MLB.com on Tuesday, Ng floated the possibility of a third scenario:
“If we don’t get to a situation that we want to be in, there’s another option where he stays a Marlin, and you still have an opportunity to talk to him. I think there’s a situation after the offseason, so I wouldn’t make the 30th the be all, end all of this.”
However, that would put the club at risk of letting Marté leave without getting them any compensation in return.
No matter what, the upcoming weeks are gonna be interesting in the Marlins universe. Just enjoy the ride.
Will Starling Marte be a Marlin beyond 2021?
This poll is closed
No, he’ll go somewhere else