The Heat had its “Big 3” of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The Miami Dolphins had their trio of Dan Marino, Mark Clayton and Mark Duper.
Now the Marlins are joining in with their own three-man act.
Their young outfield of Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna is universally praised as one of the best outfields in the majors, if not the best.
And the Marlins are building their long-term future around the three.
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By awarding Stanton a 13-year contract and agreeing to terms on a seven-year deal with Yelich, the Marlins have now locked up two-thirds of the trio for years to come.
“This is going to be a fun outfield to watch for a long time,” manager Mike Redmond said. “I’m not sure how to translate that into football. But I know that, in baseball terms, to have a young outfield to have the potential to be together for a long time, it’s great for any team or any organization, but especially for us.”
Though the Marlins haven’t worked out a long-term contract extension with Ozuna, he remains under team control on a year-to-year basis through 2018. But getting a deal done with Ozuna before then might be difficult given that his agent, Scott Boras, prefers his players test the open market through free agency.
Ozuna said Friday that Boras has told him there’s no hurry.
“He says, ‘Don’t worry. Don’t worry. Worry about your hitting and playing the game. I’ll worry about your career and your money,’ ” Ozuna said. “That’s what he says.”
Ozuna said he would prefer to play the upcoming season without the distraction of a contract negotiation and then re-assess the situation afterward.
“Let’s see what happens next year [after the season],” Ozuna said. “I don’t want something in my head, like a distraction. I’m just going to play the game, and that’s it. Try to have a good season and if we get a championship, that’s what we want.”
While the Marlins worked out a $325 million extension with Stanton and a $49.57 million deal with Yelich, they put out feelers on long-term offers for Ozuna and shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, but neither reached fruition.
Still, Ozuna said that if the right deal comes along, he would like to play alongside Stanton and Yelich for years to come. And the center fielder is pleased that the teammates who flank him on either side will remain fixtures in the Marlins outfield.
“That’s good for them,” Ozuna said. “I’m so happy for them.”
As Redmond pointed out, each of the three outfielders brings a different skill set.
“Yeli, he has speed. He can hit,” Redmond said. “You could put this guy anywhere in the lineup and he’s going to hit. Ozo has got 20-plus home run power and plays a great center field, for not your prototypical center field body type. But this guy gets great jumps. He’s got a good arm.
“And, obviously, Giancarlo, what he brings to the table.”
Redmond said it’s fair to assume, given their youth and relative lack of experience — especially with Yelich and Ozuna — that all three will only improve over time.
“The exciting part is these guys are going to continue to get better,” Redmond said. “That’s fun. To see what these guys can possibly become down the road is going to be fun to watch.”
Marino teamed with Clayton and Duper to provide football thrills in Miami for a decade. James, Wade and Bosh produced two NBA titles in their four years as a unit.
The Marlins now have their own troika of talent. They’re all young: Stanton is the elder statesman at 25, with Ozuna (24) and Yelich (23) right behind.
“These young guys are exciting,” Redmond said. “They are so young and their talent level is off the charts.”