The Marlins made a 15-game improvement over last season’s 62 wins, but president of baseball operations Michael Hill explains to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald that the team still has work to do, as they’re not one of the 10 teams whose season has yet to end. A busy offseason figures to be ahead, and at the forefront of the action will be an attempt to sign Giancarlo Stanton to a long-term deal. Marlins president David Samson spoke candidly to Spencer about the team’s hopes, and concretely stated that Stanton will not be traded this offseason:
“He’s on this team [in 2015] either way. I can’t wait until after the season to sit down with Giancarlo and [agent] Joel Wolfe and talk about contract. We’re ready. We want him to be a Marlin well past his arbitration years. We hope that he believes in us and believes in Miami and believes in the direction of this team and recognizes that he has a chance to be the leader of a successful team for many years to come.”
Regardless of whether or not a long-term deal is reached, Stanton’s salary figures to soar after an MVP-worthy campaign in 2014. Before his season came to a frightening end after he was struck in the face by a Mike Fiers fastball, Stanton had compiled an electric .288/.395/.555 batting line with a league-leading 37 homers and a career-best 105 RBIs. That type of production will warrant a sizable raise from his $6.5MM salary in arbitration. Spencer speculates that Stanton’s salary could double to $13MM, which seems entirely plausible; last offseason, Chris Davis earned a record $7MM raise for a second-time arbitration player — the same juncture at which Stanton currently finds himself. Granted, Davis was coming off a 53-homer campaign with a gaudier RBI total — both figures that factor into the arbitration process — but his raise could provide a rough guideline for Stanton this winter.
With that raise in mind, it’s of particular importance that Spencer reports the team’s payroll is expected to clear $60MM this coming season. While that would still represent one of the lowest totals in baseball — if not the lowest — it also will allow the Marlins to accommodate a much larger salary for their prized slugger, as well as arbitration raises to others, such as Steve Cishek (second time), Henderson Alvarez (first time) and Nathan Eovaldi (first time).
If the Marlins aren’t able to secure Stanton on a multi-year deal, they’ll still look to upgrade elsewhere, most notably targeting upgrades at first base an in the starting rotation, according to Spencer. General manager Dan Jennings said that he would like to cut down on the club’s strikeouts and improve its two-strike approach. The Marlins whiffed at the third-highest rate in Major League Baseball and grounded into more double plays than any club but the Rangers this season.
Marlins first basemen hit a respectable, if unspectacular .254/.313/.402 this season. They’ll have a several names to choose from in a free agent class that will have numerous solid options such as Adam LaRoche, Mike Morse and Michael Cuddyer (who is, might I add, a former teammate of recently extended manager Mike Redmond). Pitching depth is one thing the Marlins already possess with the likes of Jose Fernandez (returning from Tommy John), Alvarez, Eovaldi, Jarred Cosart, Tom Koehler, Anthony DeSclafani, Andrew Heaney, Justin Nicolino, Brian Flynn and Brad Hand, but adding a veteran could allow them the flexibility to move some of those arms in a trade.