Richest Contract Ever Sounds Like a Deal with the Devil for Giancarlo Stanton

Scott Miller@@ScottMillerBblNational MLB ColumnistNovember 17, 2014

Rob Foldy/Getty Images

I hope Giancarlo Stanton has this contract written in blood. Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria's blood. That's the only sane way to sign your life over to the Marlins.

Think about it. We know Loria. We've watched his act. Things are never as they appear. Come on, 13 years and $325 million? This guy is a carnival barker.

It would come as absolutely zero surprise if the contract is written in invisible ink and by the end of year one, suddenly all the words mysteriously have vanished and Loria sends his club president/trained monkey David Samson out to declare that the deal really was for 13 years and $32 million and damn right, they're taking it to arbitration.

Blood, Giancarlo. Get it in blood.

Some view this as the richest contract in professional sports history.

I view it as a hostile takeover of Stanton's life.

Go ask Jose Reyes. Or Mark Buehrle. Or any of the other Marlins who were there in the spring of 2012, opened the new ballpark, ingested Loria's promises…and then watched his spectacular lies light up the night sky in Miami like a Fourth of July fireworks display.

From Opening Day 2012 to Opening Day 2013, the Marlins payroll melted from $118 million to less than $37 million. Their $47.6 million payroll in 2014 ranked 29th in the majors.

That wasn't a fire sale. That was a Way of Life for Loria, same as how he hoodwinked the Florida taxpayers into building him a new ballpark and then traded away the stars they had paid to see.

Time after time, this cynical art dealer paints a picture.

But time after time, reality inconveniently winds up telling a different story.

Now, things are going to be different?

Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

Look, if anybody is going to break the $300-million barrier, Stanton—right here, right now—is as good a bet as anyone.

He is a franchise player, a big bat in an era of diminishing offense and a one-of-a-kind slugger who makes even the giant Marlins Park look small. He is smart and well-spoken. He's the kind of player anybody would love as the face of their franchise and the type of offensive weapon that can deliver a World Series title to his town.

He led the NL with 37 homers and a .555 slugging percentage in 2014. He is only 25, which means that he should have many more good years in this 13-year deal than, say, Albert Pujols ever was going to have with the Los Angeles Angels (10 years, $240 million starting with his age 32 season) or Miguel Cabrera is going to have with the Detroit Tigers (eight years, $248 million beginning with his age 33 season).

But the Marlins? Really?

Few teams this side of the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Tigers and Texas Rangers (going back to Alex Rodriguez in 2001) would even consider a deal this enormous. Until now, clubs have had to gulp and swallow hard just to stomach the idea of $200 million contracts (hello, Cincinnati and Joey Votto, who agreed to $225 million over 10 years, and Seattle and Robinson Cano, who made a deal for $240 million over 10 years).

This Stanton deal makes the Reds and Mariners look like Walmart greeters.

And it makes no sense in South Florida, where mosquitoes outnumber Marlins fans by a 10-to-1 margin and the club's puny local television deal ranks among the lowest in the game.

Check that. The only way it makes sense is if you trace it back to Loria's thirst for attention and his ostentatious appetite that led to the production of a 2003 World Series ring larger than most of the jets at Miami International Airport.

The guy likes to command a room, even when he has no staying power.   

He also clearly views the rest of the world as if we all just stepped from the set of Dumb and Dumber To.

Really. According to documents leaked to Deadspin a couple of years ago, the Marlins raked in $92 million in revenue sharing in 2008-09—and spent a combined $58 million on payroll. Not long after that boondoggle was made public, the Marlins agreed to allow MLB and the players' union to monitor its finances for three years.

Clearly, the treasure map for Stanton is buried deep within that pile of $325 million:

1. He will receive a blanket no-trade clause, something Loria has never done in Miami.

2. The deal reportedly allows Stanton to opt out after six years.

Andy Martino @martinonyc

BREAKING: Source: Historic Stanton deal done, full no-trade, sixth-year opt out, news conference Wednesday 11am http://t.co/vi15krjrIu

One industry source with whom B/R spoke Monday predicted a heavily back-loaded contract with the Marlins privately hoping Stanton opts out, thus leaving what would be a very high average annual value on the table.

One thing that would encourage Stanton to opt out is what everyone in the MLB will be closely watching: If the Marlins truly are going to pay Stanton in the neighborhood of $25 million a year, can they afford to put a decent, competitive team around him? From A-Rod and the Rangers to points beyond, time has proven that teams don't win when one player is soaking up 25, 30 percent or more of the payroll.

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 27:  Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the Miami Marlins looks on against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 27, 2014 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Stanton got grumpy on Twitter when the Marlins were breaking up the 2012 team. You've got to believe now that Loria has promised him (with a straight face) a competitive team.

I just hope Stanton doesn't have a dog.

Remember Buehrle and his pit bull? The pitcher signed a free-agent deal with the Marlins in good faith. He didn't get a no-trade clause. And a few months later, the club shipped him to Toronto.

They don't allow pit bulls in Canada, so when Buehrle joined the Blue Jays, the poor guy had to leave his pooch behind.

At least Stanton has his no-trade. So maybe you can take a dog out of the equation. But you can't take the dog out of Loria.


Scott Miller covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report. He has over two decades of experience covering MLB, including 14 years as a national baseball columnist at CBSSports.com.

Follow Scott on Twitter and talk baseball @ScottMillerBbl.


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