The off-season has been underway and we’ve not heard much about the Miami Marlins interest in free agents. That could very well be for a good reason.
While we know the team is focused on locking up Giancarlo Stanton long-term, according to Ken Rosenthal (on Twitter), the team has also begun extension talks with budding stars Jose Fernandez and Christian Yelich, as well short stop Adeiny Hechavarria.
As Rosenthal points out, an extension with Fernandez is the least likely of the three. His agent Scott Boras has not historically been one to sign his young stars to extensions, rather let them make their full amount of money on the free agent market. Fernandez would also be negotiating on a lowered playing field, as he’s just coming off TJ surgery.
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So far in his young major league career, Fernandez owns a ridiculously great 2.25 ERA and a 2.60 FIP, with 10.3 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 through his 224 1/3 innings. Fernandez was well on his way to potentially being a front-runner for the CY Young Award before going down with his injury in early May. Fernandez is under team control through the 2018 season.
Of the three extension candidates Rosenthal mentions, Yelich is the most logical one. He will be entering his 3rd season (2nd full) in 2015. Quietly, Yelich turned in a 4-win season and earned a Gold Glove award for left field in 2014.
Along with his excellent defense in left, Yelich slashed .284/.362/.402 with nine homers and 21 stolen bases. His 4.3 fWAR was the second best on the Marlins, behind Giancarlo, of course. Yelich, just 23-years old, has the makings to be a star lead-off hitter for the Marlins for the next decade. He’s under team control through the 2019 season.
The Marlins decision to open extension talks with Adieny Hechavarria is not surprising, as the Marlins are over enamored with the short stop. While Hech posted an improved .276/.308/.356 batting line in 2014, his lack of power and patience at the plate leave him near invaluable there.
There are also plenty of questions surrounding how well Hech plays defense at short. While I don’t agree with defensive metrics calling him one of the worst defenders at his position, I also don’t agree with the Marlins Gold Glove view of the 26-year old either.
Hechavarria, like Fernandez, is under team control through the 2018 season, but I’d rather see the Marlins give Hech a season or two more before they try to get him signed to an extension. In the end, the Marlins are probably going to overpay for Hech’s services.
The most surprising thing about the news Rosenthal floated out there today is the fact the Marlins are not discussing an extension with Marcell Ozuna. Ozuna, like Yelich, had a strong first full season in the majors in 2014. Ozuna slugged out 23 home runs in 2014, to go along with his .269/.317/.455 slash line. He also provided strong defense in center, becoming, in my opinion, the Marlins best outfield defender.
His 3.7 fWAR ranked third best on the Marlins. That is very impressive for a soon to be 24-year old. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Marlins did eventually talk to Ozuna about an extension, but he like Fernandez, is repped by Boras, making an extension unlikely.
Overall, I think the idea to discuss the extension of Jose Fernandez and Christian Yelich is a smart move. I’m still skeptical about Hechavarria and hope the Marlins open discussions soon with Ozuna, as well.
If the Marlins were more proactive with Giancarlo, they would not be in the predicament with him that they are now of potentially paying him $28-30 million a year, but more on that later.