Starling Marte is having the best individual season of any Marlins position player since the Derek Jeter/Bruce Sherman rebuild began. It’s hard to imagine them succeeding without him in center field and batting in the No. 2 spot, so let’s not! Ely Sussman is joined by Fish Stripes’ own Louis Addeo-Weiss to analyze how valuable Marte will be at age 33 and beyond and what Miami should be prepared to pay for his services.
Enjoy Episode 116!
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On Friday’s episode of Swings and Mishes, Craig Mish reported that Marte wants to remain in Miami long term. The Marlins have not taken any steps toward negotiating a contract extension, however, so in all likelihood, a new deal will have to wait until after the 2021 season.
The pending free agent is performing phenomenally through 30 games. Marte’s 2.0 fWAR is second on the Fish only behind Trevor Rogers despite missing nearly six weeks with a fractured rib. His .351/.443/.568 slash line (179 wRC+) is unsustainable, but his career-best barrel rate and walk rate—to go along with plus speed and defense—are traits of an excellent all-around player.
Ely considers Torii Hunter (5/$90M free agent deal) and Lorenzo Cain (5/$80M) fairly close comps for Marte. Securing a fifth guaranteed year like they did will be challenging for him. Marte is slightly older and this is an era when MLB front offices seldom trust players to remain productive into their mid-30s. That being said, a healthy finish to this season should land him a similar average annual value.
A four-year contract worth $67 million is fair for both sides. Perhaps the Marlins can frontload the deal—$22 million in 2022, $15 million apiece from 2023-2025—to take advantage of their near-term payroll flexibility. That makes Marte easier to trade on the back end of the deal if necessary. Worth noting, he wouldn’t receive 10-and-5 rights (a service time-related no-trade clause) until the middle of the 2025 season.
Perhaps most importantly, Ely and Louis agree that re-upping with Marte is only appropriate if the Marlins complement him by investing in several other veterans at positions of need. Through clever trades and player development, the Marlins have built a strong foundation for the next half-decade, but it will take more outside help to vault them into championship contention.
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