In past cycles of their existence, the Miami Marlins have spent massive amounts of money and then within a flash, those players have been gone in some kind of salary dump.
It happened in 1997 with the breakup of a successful team of imported veterans. It happened in 2003 when the younger players that made up a surprising championship team were gradually sent elsewhere or allowed to leave. And it happened in 2012 when a big expensive import of veterans resulted in a losing season and triggered another youth movement.
So forgive us if there’s a trace of skepticism about Giancarlo Stanton‘s 13-year, $325 million contract, which is now the largest contract in American pro sports history. Stanton has a clause that allows him to opt-out after the first six seasons and since virtually everyone opts out to re-negotiate that seems likely.
“That is one of the main components,” Stanton said at his press conference on Wednesday televised on MLB network. “I want to make sure the team is moving forward and that is for my own protection.”
At his press conference and in reports of the negotiations heading into Wednesday’s press conference, Stanton indicated that winning took precedence over whatever the amount he will make per game or per at-bat.
“I didn’t want to talk about dollars and money,” Stanton said. “I wanted to talk about what is our plan”
This means that Stanton was equally as skeptical of an organization whose owner Jeffrey Loria is widely despised throughout south Florida and an organization who reportedly lied about its wealth in getting taxpayers to fund $2.4 billion for a new stadium.
According to the reports, Stanton will be getting $6.5 million next season, $9 million in 2016 and $14.5 million in 2017. Over the first six seasons, the Marlins will owe $107 million, meaning that there should be enough time and money to invest into pushing a 77-win team into playoff contention.
Stanton led the NL with 37 home runs and a .555 slugging percentage on a team whose opening day payroll was $47.5 million, the second-lowest in the game. Stanton is also playing for an organization that drew just 1.7 million fans and have rarely had more than two million fans show up over the course of a season.
Keeping Stanton is a step in the right direction for an organization with a dubious past. Now they owe him by committing to keep some of their other younger players such as Jose Fernandez, Marcell Ozuna, Steve Cishek, Henderson Alvarez and Christian Yelich.
“We’ve got to trust, man,” Stanton said. “We’ve got to trust that we’re all in it to win it.”
Hopefully for Stanton that is the case as the team develops a state of love and trust, busting down the pretext of previous eras. You’d hate to see a player with Stanton’s immense talents and raw power languish in a losing situation with little hope for change.
Wednesday was a good day for the Marlins. Instead of trading their best player they invested in retaining him. Now comes the part of making sure he never leaves and the team can consistently win.