The Marlins have presented a multi-year extension offer to star center fielder Starling Marte, report Jordan McPherson and Craig Mish of the Miami Herald. Terms of the offer are unknown, although McPherson and Mish hear Marte and his representatives at Rep 1 Baseball are seeking a “three- or four-year deal in the $50 million range.”
Marte, who is playing out the season on a $12.5MM contract, is slated to hit free agency at the end of the year. Last month, he expressed a desire to work out a long-term deal to stay with Miami rather than test the market. Theoretically, the two sides have until the conclusion of the season to work out an extension, although McPherson and Mish suggest the July 30 trade deadline could function as a de facto extension deadline as well. If the Marlins and Marte don’t work out a long-term deal in the next few weeks, the 35-47 Marlins are expected to trade him, according to the Herald duo.
The Fish could also hold onto Marte through the end of the year and make him a qualifying offer going into the offseason. He’d almost certainly reject the QO, entitling Miami to 2022 draft pick compensation were he to sign elsewhere. However, Marte is playing well enough this season that a contender would likely offer the Marlins a prospect package more valuable than the compensatory pick they’d receive if he turned down a QO.
While a rib fracture cost Marte a month of action earlier in the year, he’s arguably playing at a career-best level when healthy. The right-handed hitter has slashed .294/.401/.453 across 202 plate appearances. His resulting 143 wRC+ (which suggests he’s been 43 percentage points better than the average hitter after park-adjustments) is the best mark of his ten-year career. That’s driven primarily by a demonstrably more patient approach, as Marte is walking at a 13.4% clip that’s nearly triple the 4.9% career walk percentage he carried into the season.
Considering Marte’s performance this year, his reported preference for a deal in the $50MM range seems more than reasonable. He’s set to turn 33 years old in October, which will cap the deal’s length. Still, he’s tracking as the unquestionable top center fielder on the market and has been among the top performers regardless of position.
Among position players scheduled to hit free agency, only Carlos Correa, Marcus Semien and Nick Castellanos (who’s almost certain to opt out of the final two years of his deal) have an fWAR greater than Marte’s 2.8. Castellanos, Correa, Nelson Cruz and J.D. Martinez (who has a player option) are the only members of that group (minimum 100 plate appearances) to have outhit Marte this season.