Winning 5 of their past 6 games (50-53 overall), it appears the Marlins are resurging just in time to make a push for the playoffs. They remain 7 games out of first for the NL East but only 5.5 games back for a potential Wild Card showdown. Things are also starting to fall into place. Injuries are starting to shake out; the rotation seems to be getting some internal help from the maturation of Brad Hand and Jacob Turner, and the bullpen seems to be coalescing.
The question now becomes, what of Giancarlo Stanton‘s future? Will it be a long term stay in Miami or another great player who only developed and was shipped off?
We touched upon the potential of the Blue Jays trade, made in 2012, that initially angered the fan base of this franchise yet again. After a few seasons, the fruits of that move are starting to become apparent – the Marlins decided to get rid of bad contracts in favor of getting valuable young talent in return and also gaining payroll flexibility moving forward. It could potentially lead to this moment in time.
The Marlins have been saying all of the right things of late – that they want to keep Stanton. And why wouldn’t they? They will never replace his potential with any trade in baseball. All stars were gathered around like kids watching him hit in the home run derby. He could potentially be the biggest power threat in the entire game and one day, when the All Star game is hosted in Miami, could be its biggest ambassador and host.
Attendance figures have blossomed – the Marlins are finally attracting over 21,000 per game and most of that is due to Stanton’s emergence. But would Stanton want to stay long term? The question is often asked and examined and his hometown Dodgers have made their intentions clear of wanting to bring him “home” to play in LA. Many have regarded it as a foregone conclusion.
“I want to win,” Stanton said. “If we’re prepared to win, I want to stay.” This is a quote from an LA Times article that was exploring the possibility of Stanton coming to the Dodgers. So, are the Marlins prepared to win?
It appears so based on their recent surge. In order for the Marlins to become consistent contenders, they have to develop the mentality of winning and closing out games; of not leaving things to chance and playing error-free baseball. The locker room is very amenable to this approach. The team chemistry is changing as was the plan when the Marlins went out and signed competitive veterans like Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Garrett Jones, and Casey McGehee. They added Frank Menechino as the hitting coach and Brett Butler as the third base coach. All facets of the game are continuing to improve.
It does seem that Stanton’s stance against signing long term with the Marlins is softening. Let’s face it, the Fish have a lot of potential. They have pieces in place that are tantalizing for the future like Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna, Steve Cisheck, and especially Jose Fernandez. They have lots of young pitching they are building around. Stanton is getting protection in the lineup now with McGehee and Colin Moran is on pace to reach the majors and become a valuable bat sometime around 2016 – the final year the Marlins will have control over Stanton’s contract.
Still, the Marlins are on the rise. If they can make a strong push and show they are a winning franchise with a bright future, the timing would be right to offer Stanton a multi-year deal. The Marlins shed a lot of future money with the deal to the Blue Jays – but it may be precisely that deal that was able to keep Stanton in south Florida. Instead of paying Jose Reyes $98M through 2018, you pay Stanton that money.
And which would offer the greatest return?
“We need to keep progressing,” he said. “No more backpedaling or revamping.”
If the Marlins can keep up with that trend, then Stanton will not only be happy here in Miami, but will want to continue to work and live here.
The LA Times article also states that Stanton originally wanted to play for his hometown Dodgers but that was “the original dream, when you’re a kid.” It sounds like Stanton has grown up though and is willing to move on. It is now time for the Marlins to grow up as a franchise and take the next step.