2014 Marlins Offseason: Should the Team Extend Stanton or Look to Move Him?

Cheng SioContributor IJanuary 20, 2014

Is Giancarlo Stanton running into the Marlins' arms, or running away from them?
Is Giancarlo Stanton running into the Marlins' arms, or running away from them?Alan Diaz/Associated Press

Evan Longoria. Andrew McCutchen. Ryan Braun. Joe Mauer.

Giancarlo Stanton could join this list of great baseball players. Yes, Braun too, even though he was suspended for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal last season. 

What the 24-year-old Stanton might one day have in common with this quartet has nothing to do with the 17 All-Star Game selections, 13 Silver Slugger Awards, six Gold Gloves, three Most Valuable Player awards, three batting titles and two Rookie of the Year awards Longoria, McCutchen, Braun and Mauer have accrued thus far in Major League Baseball.

Instead, their commonality could be homegrown stars who stayed and became the face of their franchise—that is if Stanton and the Miami Marlins could agree on a long-term contract.

Longoria has signed a pair of contracts that should keep him with the Tampa Bay Rays until 2022 with a club option for 2023. Like Longoria, Braun has a pair of deals that should keep him with the Milwaukee Brewers until 2020 with a mutual option for 2021. Mauer also has a similar agreement that should keep him with the Minnesota Twins until 2018. Meanwhile, McCutchen has a six-year pact that should keep him with the Pittsburgh Pirates with a club option for 2018. 

In the Marlins' best interest, they should make a move now to sign Stanton to an extension. At the minimum, the Marlins should offer at least four years—which would buy out the remaining two years of arbitration and the first two years of free agency—and $60 million. 

After all, who wouldn't want to keep a guy who finished 11th in home runs per at-bats (minimum 375) in 2010, seventh in 2011, first in 2012 and 16th in 2013, even though there was no one else who could produce an offensive WAR (wins above replacement) more than 1.0 except for Christian Yelich, who was with the team for the final two months of the season?

Oh, and did we mention Stanton has 117 career home runs in his first four seasons and even in his worst season last year, Stanton still managed to produce a .249/.365/.480 slash line with 24 home runs and 62 RBI in 116 games?

A power bat, such as the one Stanton possesses, has become an increasingly rare commodity. That's why the Marlins need to extend Stanton now.

Stanton and the Marlins avoided arbitration last week by agreeing to a $6.5 million contract for 2014, which includes an additional $100,000 if the right fielder reaches 600 plate appearances, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweeted.

The good news is both sides quickly agreed to terms and avoided arbitration, especially since the Marlins are a "file and trial" team, which means if they don't finalize deals by the arbitration-salary-exchange deadline, they break off talks and go to a hearing, according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro.

The bad news is, as Frisaro also noted, a conversation about a multi-year deal never occurred between the Marlins and Stanton's agent, Joel Wolfe, because both sides felt the timing wasn't right.

As long as there is no long-term deal in place, everyone knows this is a huge year for both sides. ESPN.com's Buster Olney couldn't have said it better when he said Stanton needs to establish his highest possible trade value if the Marlins aren’t able to ink Stanton to a long-term deal.

Let's say, hypothetically, the Marlins went to Stanton before the start of the season and proposed to talk about making him the next Longoria, McCutchen, Braun or Mauer. And let's say, hypothetically, Stanton politely declined.

Even though the Marlins have insisted they are building around Stanton for 2014, such as this tweet from ESPN.com's Jim Bowden stated, only until Stanton rejects them should the Marlins look to trade Stanton.

If this were to occur, the Marlins should ask for at least four top-notch prospects in return. 

Giancarlo Stanton played in Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, in 2012. It could be his permanent home in 2015.
Giancarlo Stanton played in Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, in 2012. It could be his permanent home in 2015.David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

In fact, at least one person thinks the aforementioned hypothetical could become a reality. As a result, he has come prepared with a trade package proposal. 

Ricky Doyle of NESN.com projected Stanton will be in the Boston Red Sox's lineup in 2015, and Doyle said the Red Sox should create a proposal that involves pieces such as Henry Owens (Red Sox's No. 2 prospect, according to Baseball America), Allen Webster (No. 4), Will Middlebrooks, Felix Doubront and/or Bryce Brentz.

But before the Marlins consider such an option, they should try to keep Stanton, a la Longoria, McCutchen, Braun and Mauer.

Just to be safe, though, the Marlins should also keep a hammer close by in the event they need to break the glass in case of emergency.