Big Moves Miami Marlins Could Actually Pull off This Offseason
Imagine a scenario where the Miami Marlins calls Jay Z's sports agency, Roc Nation, and tells him they are prepared to offer All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano the 10-year, $300 milllion contract the New York Yankees aren't willing to put on the table.
Roc Nation, surprised but skeptical because of what team is on the other line, decides to tell the Marlins they want $350 million for 10 years. Unfazed, the Marlins says that won't be a problem.
By Christmas, Cano signs with the Marlins, and the baseball world is stunned.
Believe it or not, the New York Post's Joel Sherman thinks the Marlins could be a stealth bidder for Cano because they are further along in their accumulation of young talent, and no owner has proven more impetuous in spending and selling off than Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria.
In reality, this scenario is a pipe dream. There's a better chance the Chicago Cubs will win the 2014 World Series than the Marlins have on spending more than $300 million on one single player. But if the Marlins did pull it off, no one would have seen it coming.
And that's the point of this exercise, which is we will take a look at what big moves, from least likely to most likely, the "cash-strapped" Miami Marlins could realistically pull off this offseason.
Jeffrey Loria slapping the "For Sale" sign on the Marlins
All right, maybe Loria putting the team for sale is a pipe dream too.
However, it's a scenario many Marlins fans want and isn't as far-fetched as the Marlins signing Cano to a $300 million contract. In fact, there's a Facebook page dedicated to forcing Loria to sell the Marlins after they completed the 12-player fire sale trade last year with the Toronto Blue Jays. The vitriol didn't just come from the local area, but from the national media, such as Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, as well.
That said, it seems the anger has subsided as that Facebook page hasn't been updated since June 16 and hasn't been commented on since July 7.
Moreover, Marlins president David Samson told Bryant Gumbel of HBO's Real Sports his former father-in-law doesn't intend to sell the team anytime soon. Just click on the video above to see it for yourself.
Loria doesn't have any reason to sell the team right now. As it stands, Loria could be swimming in dollar bills because, according to the Miami Herald, a 2009 contract between the Marlins, the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County states the local governments receive none of the profits if Loria sells the team after 2015.
Even if Loria sold the team today, the sale won't be approved until sometime in 2014 at the earliest. In that instance, the local governments would split five percent of the profits. But in 2015, all profits would go only to Loria.
Seeing as how the process usually takes a year from the moment it is announced a team is for sale, Loria could sell the Marlins and reap all the profits at the earliest possible time, if he times it right this offseason.
By the way, did we mention Loria gets to keep all the revenue from the publicly-funded Marlins Park? This means ticket sales, concessions, suites, advertising, parking and naming rights, while the city receives about $5 million per year from parking space rental to help pay off the construction bonds (Loria agreed to pay just $125.2 million of the stadium's $634 million in construction costs), which will be valued at $2.4 billion when it is paid off in 40 years.
But Loria selling the Marlins probably won't happen. Then again, who knows? Loria did just sell a 1954 Albert Giacometti portrait of his brother, Diego, for $32.6 million.
If Loria, an art dealer, could sell paintings, then perhaps he could sell the team.
Marlins Sign Giancarlo Stanton to a Long-Term Contract...or Trade Him
Trade him or sign him to a long-term deal, it's a big move the Marlins could legitimately pull off if they decide not to sit on their laurels with 24-year-old All-Star slugger Giancarlo Stanton.
Currently, the Marlins have yet to approach Stanton or his agent, Joel Wolfe, about a multi-year deal, but Marlins president of baseball operations Mike Hill noted the club is weighing their next step in retaining Stanton for years to come.
"I would say it's an ongoing discussion," Hill told MLB.com last week. "As I said earlier, he's a big part of this team's success, and we'd like to think that we could build around him, and put pieces around him to allow us to win games for a long time. But at this point, I'd say it's an ongoing discussion."
Stanton, who hit 24 home runs last year and has 117 in his four-year career, is arbitration eligible for the first time. Stanton earned $537,000 last season, but his salary is expected to increase to around $5 million, according to MLB Trade Rumors.
It's unknown if Stanton is receptive to a long-term contract, but before the season finale, Stanton said "they haven't come to me," when asked before the game if he would be open to signing a deal if the Marlins presented one, according to the Palm Beach Post.
On the flip side, a few days prior to Hill speaking with MLB.com, Marlins general manager Dan Jennings told Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio that, "Mr. Stanton is NOT Available. He will be in RF at Marlins Park on Opening Day. We are building around him," which Bowden then tweeted.
However, the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo states to the masses to never believe a GM when the GM says a certain player isn’t going to be traded because everyone has a price and any player can be traded, unless there is a contract clause that says he can’t, and even that’s negotiable.
And let's face it, there will probably never be such a language in any Marlins contract under this regime because they don't believe in a no-trade clause. Samson reiterated the stance Monday with Bowden and Casey Stern on the radio.
“I would not re-look at that,” Samson said, via the Sun-Sentinel. “I still report to an owner, but were it up to me I would not give a no-trade clause. It just hampers you too much and you don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t think we’re having any problem signing free agents because of what happened in 2012. If we offer more years or more money, people will come to play and frankly a tie will go to Miami for many of the players. It’s such a great ballpark and a great place to live.
“The problem with no-trade clauses, they never are to the benefit of the team, ever, and they don’t make much sense to me.”
If the Marlins put Stanton on the trade market, regardless of whether the Marlins presented Stanton with a long-term deal, there will be plenty of suitors for Stanton's services.
For instance, Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has said he tried to trade for Stanton at least 10 times. As csnphilly.com's Jim Salisbury states, Stanton is Amaro's "white whale," especially since Amaro can be unrelenting in his pursuit of players that he really wants. If the Marlins make Stanton available, Salisbury said any trade package would probably have to begin with top prospect Maikel Franco.
Then, there are the World Series champions. Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald feels Felix Doubront, a top pitching prospect such as Henry Owens, third baseman Will Middlebrooks and two mid-level prospects might be too much for the Marlins to turn down. The Boston Globe's Chad Finn took it a step further when he said every young player except for Xander Bogaerts should be available.
Cafardo, meanwhile, thinks the Minnesota Twins have the prospects to get a deal done if they want to get in on the bidding. Minnesota has outfielder Byron Buxton, whom one talent evaluator called “the best positional player in minor league baseball,” pitchers Kyle Gibson and Alex Meyer, power-hitting third basemen Miguel Sano and Travis Harrison, second baseman Eddie Rosario and shortstop Daniel Santana, among others.
And let's not forget about the Los Angeles Dodgers, who might have more money than God himself. MLB.com's Peter Gammons tweeted Matt Vasgersian's idea of trading Yasiel Puig and anyone not named Clayton Kershaw for Stanton.
Marlins sign a free agent who will make at least $10 million per season
The number is in, and it seems payroll will increase slightly but enough to possibly acquire a big-money player.
MLB.com's Joe Frisaro thinks the maximum mark for the 2014 payroll would be in the low to mid-$40 million range, up from the $38 million in 2013.
If the Marlins do nothing from here on out, their payroll will be between $30-$34 million depending on how arbitration shakes out and how much the Marlins pay their pre-arbitration players. Let's say the cap for payroll is $46 million, this means the Marlins have anywhere from $12-$16 million to play with, which is just enough to squeeze in a free agent at $10 million per season even if Loria backloads the contract like he usually does.
"I think we're comfortable with the range that we have, and we can do what we need to do to improve the club," Hill told Frisaro. "I think if there is something that we feel is mandatory for this club, I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility to go to Jeffrey and see if it is something that we can do."
Keep in mind, the Marlins were "all in" on first baseman Jose Daniel Abreu before the Cuban defector agreed to a six-year, $68 million deal with the Chicago White Sox. The average annual value of that contract is $11.3 million. Frisaro tweeted that the Marlins bowed out of the bidding when it went past $60 million.
Before the offseason began, the Miami Herald's Barry Jackson reported that Marlins special assistant Andre Dawson said Loria told him he plans to acquire hitters, and Dawson said the three priorities are third base, first base and catcher.
Bowden, who also writes for ESPN.com, thinks the best fit for the Marlins is catchers Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Carlos Ruiz and A.J. Pierzynski, as well as infielders Jhonny Peralta and Juan Uribe. Bowden also predicts each of those players will earn between $7-$10 million per season in their new contract.
None of those players have been linked to the Marlins...yet.