Marlins Have Two Heavyweights On Horizon

Recently Juan C. Rodriguez over at the Sun-Sentinel was thinking out loud about the implications of the Braves’ re-signing Freddie Freeman to an 8 year deal worth $135M on the Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton. The basic conclusion is, the Marlins will have to pay. How much? About $128.5M for about the same amount of service time – and that would be if the Marlins signed Stanton now.

If he has a monster year, well, that will change things.

Truthfully, signing Stanton at anything less than $200M could be considered a bargain. Looking at the Robinson Cano deal with Seattle, a talent like Stanton could command as much, if not more, because of his age (23) and potential. Yet, that is only the beginning of the Marlins’ problems.

The other half of this problem comes in two words: Scott Boras. He is Jose Fernandez’s agent and you can better believe he will find a way to get Fernandez a ton of money. Just look at Masahiro Tanaka’s signing with the Yankees for 7 years and $155M and imagine what kind of money Fernandez can command.

Realistically, the Marlins would be getting a bargain signing both players to about $300M combined. Can they support that kind of investment? If the Marlins are serious about being contenders for a long time, and establishing themselves as one of the elite franchise in MLB, they should take the plunge. The Atlanta Braves, regardless of how we may feel about our NL East rivals, run a solid franchise that contends every year. If the Marlins want to change their perception, they will have to do the same.

That is not to say signing both will be a necessity in order to get there, but if they are serious about building a long-term contender, they will never have the chance to do so again with two franchise players like these on one roster. The Marlins were smart to buy off Hanley Ramirez’s arbitration years and agree to a longer term deal. That locked  him up as a Marlin and gave the Marlins the chance to market him going forward which helped to build the stadium. Ramirez is gone, now but his shadow remains. Can the Marlins afford to invest in a young talent for the long term?

Right now the Marlins payroll is about $45M for the upcoming season – still very much below the rest of MLB. When Fernandez and Stanton get their “bumps” – let’s estimate about $16M each – that would be adding about $32M+ to the payroll bringing that up to about $77M, which is still quite a bargain when you look at the potential of that team.

Can the Marlins afford to lock up Fernandez and Stanton? Yes. The market is here in Miami to support big time baseball. The scary thing is, the Marlins may not need to lock up both players to be annual contenders when you consider the other young talents they have at both positions. Then again, letting Miguel Cabrera go will always haunt this franchise. If they could point to a better present (and future) with players like Stanton and Fernandez, they may be able to claim mea culpa and actually get away with it.