Marlins Sign Giancarlo Stanton to Record Deal, Now they Must Build Around Him


The Marlins have seemingly done what no one thought was possible, they locked up their big time slugger, Giancarlo Stanton to a long term deal, not just any deal, the biggest one in the history of North American sports. 13 years, for $325 million, with an opt clause for Stanton out after the 2020 season and full no-trade-clause. It is a remarkably player friendly deal, giving Stanton a guaranteed salary until his age-38 season.

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But it strangely it is a very team friendly deal if Stanton decides to seek greener pastures or to be a DH as his defensive skills, range and knee  cartilage  diminish in his early 30s.   At an average annual value of $25 million, the first six years of Stanton’s contract would come out to $150 million. Mike Trout who signed what was thought to be an insane deal earlier this season, did so at $144.5 million for six years for an average annual value of $24 million. Furthermore Trout’s deal kicked in 2015 fourth year of arbitration eligibility and will cover, his last three arbitration years and 3 free agent years. Stanton’s contract will presumably cover the last two years of his arbitration and four free agent years through the 2020 season.

Lewie Pollis at Beyond the Box Score figured out that one win above replacement is worth $7 million on the open market.  Taking that into consideration.  A $25 million a year contract during Stanton’s prime, from age-25 to age-31, assumes that the Marlins front office expect him to be worth around 4 wins a year for the next six years  At least 24 WAR in 6 years.  In his two best seasons in the Majors, 2012 and 2014, Stanton compiled two 5+ win seasons.  It is easy to assume that if he remains healthy Stanton would be a cinch for at least 4 WAR every season from 2015 to 2020.

Another consideration as we enter what seems to be another low run scoring environment era. Much like the period from 1967 to 1992, pitchers are dominating the game and the value of a hitter like Stanton who has 154 HR in less than five full MLB seasons and has a career ISO of .269 and career OPS+ of 143 cannot be underestimated

Power is at a premium right now and the Marlins are being smart to lock up one of the only proven power bats in the game for the foreseeable future.

This leads me to the blueprint. With this signing the Marlins have just made Stanton the foundation to a massive new edifice. What they must do now is to build upon this and create a team that can compete both in the short term and the long term. The Marlins must take the opportunity they have been handed by having a once in a generation player and build around him

As I’ve said countless times, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna must be a part of this.  Yelich is as talented as any multi-dimensional player in the league contributing at every phase in the game and especially with his Gold Glove worthy play in left field at an expansive Marlins Park.  The Marlins should look to lock Yelich up as soon as possible

Ozuna is young but he will also mature to be one of the premier power-hitters in the league.  As the Kansas City Royals proved, great defense is a great thing to have, especially in the outfield of a big park. Yelich, Ozuna and Stanton are not Gordon, Cain and Aoki but they’re much better than most.

Stanton signing with the team for the long term also clarifies what must be done to improve the rest of the team especially the infield. Not much is known about how the Marlins infield will look next year all we know is that Adeiny Hechavarria will be playing shortstop. Everything else is up in the air. I predict that Kike Hernandez and Derek Dietrich will play a major role with both of them racking up at least 500 plate appearances at an infield position.  The Marlins weakness last year was their infield and especially the infield defense.

Playing Dietrich at a corner, most likely first base with Hernandez at second base will sure improve both the Marlins offensive production and run prevention from the infield.   I am supporter of Derek Dietrich because I don’t believe the Marlins can afford to have his bat out of the lineup. They must find a place to play him in the infield because I believe he projects as 20 HR, .330 wOBA bat, who can hit in the middle of any order.

The Marlins are unlikely to spend too much money this offseason on the free agent market given the size of the contract that they have just given Stanton. I believe they have what they need to contend currently in the organization.

One of the best young outfields in baseball, with a superstar and two very good all-star caliber players.

An interesting combination of infielders that may or may not include Casey McGehee, Justin Bour, Derek Dietrich and Kike Hernandez.

A bevy of young rotation arms who are well placed to succeed in a pitcher-friendly ballpark.  Including the outstanding Henderson Alvarez as well as a collection of other pitchers who are more than capable of providing Major League average run prevention until Jose Fernandez comes back sometime after the All Star break.

A bullpen that includes hard throwers like AJ Ramos and Carter Capps with a proven closer in Steve Cishek.

That team might not be a contender or poised to make a deep run into October in 2015. But it is definitely a basis to build upon. If the Royals proved anything this October is that all you need to do is get in. Anything else is possible after that.