What’s Next for Giancarlo Stanton and the Marlins?

If this was a marriage, they might be in therapy. Or preparing for a divorce settlement.

No one is certain about which direction things are heading but it does seem that the more serious the Marlins are about winning, the more likely they will retain the services of Giancarlo Stanton. For now, it is a one year experiment.

Both parties have a lot to prove to the other. The Marlins have to prove to Stanton that they are serious about contending and will spend the money to win and won’t be held back. Stanton has to prove that he is healthy and capable of being a franchise player – the potential is certainly there and he’s brimming with superstar ability. Both sides need to simply execute and things just might come together in 2014.

So it is no wonder that Joe Frisaro would report that despite the happy, positive feelings about getting the 2014 one year deal done without going to arbitration, things seem a little murky beyond this year. Is a multiyear deal in the works? The timing doesn’t seem right at this point.

The first step was made though and that was to lock up Stanton for the next year without any bickering or finger pointing. Getting a deal done means he doesn’t have to worry and can focus on getting ready for Spring Training.

“From the outset, I think it was in everyone’s interest to try [to] reach a fair and amicable settlement on a one-year contract,” Stanton’s agent, Joel Wolfe told MLB.com. “We accomplished that. Now, Giancarlo can focus exclusively on getting ready for the season. He is pleased with the result and [is] looking forward to Spring Training.”

Stanton made no bones about his displeasure over the trade a year ago that sent several key Marlins players to the Toronto Blue Jays. Instantly the pundits jumped on the Marlins for a “fire sale” and started immediately picking the Blue Jays to win their division. Quite the opposite has happened since – the Blue Jays underachieved while the Marlins side of the deal has started to pay immediate dividends. This, of course, came in the wake of the firing of Ozzie Guillen which also upset Stanton to the point where he could harbor his frustration no more. Twitter bore the brunt of it.

Since then, cooler heads have prevailed. The Marlins lost 100 games but showed great promise over the course of the season. They have been rejuvenated with pitching, mostly behind the brilliant debut of Jose Fernandez, the 2013 Rookie of the Year who had a sensational pitching season unlike any in the modern era of the game. The starting pitching has lots of talent and depth; the bullpen was anchored by Steve Cishek and also has more talent on the way as well. Things are looking up. The Fish even went out and signed a major free agent in Jarrod Saltalamacchia to anchor the catching position for the next three seasons.

So no, the timing is not right. The Marlins have said they want to build around Stanton and have said he was off limits to any who would listen heading into this offseason. They have come out the other side proving their point by not dealing him and not even so much as a realistic sniff from teams has come to pass. All that is left is to win and demonstrate to Stanton, and the fans, that the Marlins are serious about winning. How many wins they rack up this year will depend on how healthy Stanton can be and how well he performs in a renewed lineup.

Which brings us to another point – the Marlins would be overpaying with a multi-year deal worth $150M or so. In 2012, as an All-Star, Stanton only played 123 games. The team has him under control for another 2 years until he is free agent eligible in 2016. Right now, the Marlins should continue to say the right things and demonstrate with their wallets that they mean what they say – but they will continue on this path as long as it makes baseball and business sense. The reason why Justin Ruggiano was dealt was because the Marlins wanted to better allocate their funds then on a 4th outfielder and they found a very capable replacement in Brian Bogusevic. The Marlins do have Marcel Ozuna and Jake Marisnick in waiting to see if both of these players can live up to their MLB potentials. That outfield may be very crowded in two years, which isn’t to say Stanton wouldn’t continue to be a priority but that his game may change drastically in two years as well.

A wait and see approach is, admittedly, shrewd for the Marlins. They have no incentive to make a move now and can afford to wait until the end of this season and possibly even the end of next before making a long term commitment. But, the more wins the Marlins tally, the more percentage points they gain to re-sign their farm-raised slugger. It’s as simple as that.