The Marlins Need To Extend Mat Latos NOW


The Marlins look more legitimate right now than they have in years. They have made big moves both in trade and through free agency. They have also begun the process of extending current players to keep them in town for the long haul. With their off-season flurry came a few key players that are only under contract for a year, mainly Mat Latos. Latos has only been a Marlin for a few weeks, but the team needs to lock him up to a long-term deal right now before he hits free agency.

Latos has been one of the best pitchers in the National League for the last four seasons. In his last five seasons he has 56 wins, a 3.27 ERA and a 115 ERA+. With a WHIP of 1.16 in over 900 innings, the 27 year old south Florida native has proven to be one of the most reliable workhorses in all of baseball. He was hurt for half of 2014, but he has at least 31 starts in each of his four seasons prior to 2014.

Playing for San Diego then Cincinnati, Latos has largely flown under the radar, if that is possible. Though he was 8th in the NL for the Cy Young award in 2010, Latos has never been an All-Star. Since starting the 2010 season at the Major League level, Latos has never even had an ERA above 3.5. He keeps his team in games, as evidenced by his winning 14 games three separate times.

As a free agent, Latos can expect to receive a contract in the 5 year, $90-105 million dollar range. However, with a “breakout” year he could really set himself up for a great payday. Again, he has already had a number of great years but he never seems to be in discussion among the top pitchers in the game. He is entering free agency at a young age, possibly allowing him to command a 6 or even 7 year contract with the right hype during the 2015 season.

Jon Lester just received a 6 year, $155 million dollar contract from the Chicago Cubs. Lester is already 30 and has had a number of average years. However, he is a lefty and did a great job pitching in his walk year. The free agent pitching market was very limited this season, helping his contract. Max Scherzer is expected to receive even more. These contracts will open the flood gates for a pitcher like Latos to receive a contract in the 6/$126M range with a great year in Miami.

The Marlins need to lock up Latos right now. The team’s core has been building for years and they are now cashing in for a run at a championship. With a rotation that includes Henderson Alvarez through the 2017 season and Jose Fernandez through the 2018 season, a five or six year deal locking up Latos through the 2021 or 2022 season would give Miami one of the best top three starters in baseball for a long time.

Obviously, Latos has not even played a game in Miami yet, but he is a south Florida product and he is very proud to be coming home to play baseball. He said last week, “It’s a blessing to be able to play for a team you grew up watching…you take pride in that. This is your home turf.” Latos wants to be here and he wants to win here.

The Marlins need to offer Latos a 5 year, $90 million dollar contract to get the ball rolling. This is more than the Red Sox offered Lester the year before he hit free agency. It shows commitment while still giving some room for negotiation.

The Marlins may want to wait and see how his elbow fares in 2015, but waiting will drive his price up. This is a risk the Marlins need to take. After all, the price only grows from he