Sunday could be it for Giancarlo Stanton as a Marlin.
The same with fellow outfielders Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich — and who knows who else?
“Every year is uncertainty here, so it doesn’t matter,” Stanton said before taking the field Wednesday at Coors Field in what was very possibly his final road game in a Miami uniform. “But I don’t worry about it until the time comes.”
With new ownership assuming the reins of the franchise and the Marlins’ financial ledger bleeding red, speculation is rampant that the weekend series with the Braves at Marlins Park could be the swan song for Stanton, Ozuna, Yelich and others.
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The Marlins have 2018 payroll obligations of $95 million owed to eight players, and it takes 25 to make up a roster. Stanton alone will pocket $25 million next season, his gargantuan contract coming home to roost just as Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter are preparing to take over.
“I don’t worry about it until the time comes,” said Stanton, who is enjoying the best season of his career, increasing his trade value in the process. “It’ll come eventually. Five years. Tomorrow. It doesn’t matter.”
Scouts have also been eyeballing Yelich and Ozuna.
All of it suggests that one of the premier outfield trios in the majors is down to its final act.
“Maybe?” Ozuna replied at the suggestion that the Marlins outfield might be the best in the game. “What do you mean maybe?”
Statistically speaking, the Marlins outfield tops the Majors in terms of OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) with a figure of .890. The Yankees outfield that includes Aaron Judge is a distant second at .856.
There’s not an active outfield trio anywhere that has started as many games together as the Marlins’ troika of Stanton, Yelich and Ozuna: 379 games, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
Next is Pittsburgh’s trio of Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Gregory Polanco at 243 games. No other major league outfield has started as many as 200 games as a three-player entity.
“Yeah, it’s going to be sad,” Ozuna said of a potential breakup. “But what are we going to do? We don’t have any control over that.”
All three outfielders came up through the Marlins’ farm system. Ozuna and Yelich played together in the minors before joining the Marlins in 2013, three years before Stanton showed up.
“That’s what kept us going through all these tough times,” Stanton said. “Feeding off each other and making sure we’re not giving away games when we know there’s no playoffs, keeping ourselves accountable out there.”
Yelich echoed that sentiment.
“I’ve really enjoyed playing with those guys,” Yelich said. “We’re all really good friends, really close. We grew up together in a lot of ways.”
But even Yelich is aware that it could be the end of the road as a group.
“I think everyone is kind of aware of the situation,” Yelich said. “We really don’t know what’s going to happen, [but] we realize what the possibilities could be. Everybody knows that.”
The three could all be sent their separate ways.
“If it happens,” Ozuna said, “what are we going to do? See each other when we’re with other teams and say hi.”
Said Yelich: “But until it happens, we’re still here.”
Last road game
The Marlins became roadkill in what was their final road game of the season, a 15-9 blowout by the Rockies on Wednesday at Coors Field. It was the most runs allowed this season by the Marlins, who return home Thursday to close out the season against the Braves.
Marlins pitchers walked 10 batters (three intentionally), and seven of those ended up scoring in one of the worst losses of the season for Miami. Starter Adam Conley managed to retire just four batters before coming out after giving up six runs.
In Conley’s five starts this month, he has given up 23 total runs in 17 1/3 innings for an ERA of 11.94. Manager Don Mattingly said he might use Conley out of the bullpen before the end of the season.
The series turned out poorly for Stanton, who not only failed to add to his home run total at a ballpark he has demolished over the years, but he went 1 for 12 with four strikeouts. He returns to Miami with 57 homers.
▪ Thursday: Marlins LHP Dillon Peters (0-2, 6.31) vs. Atlanta Braves RHP Julio Teheran (11-11, 4.39), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.
▪ Friday: Marlins RHP Dan Straily (10-9, 4.08) vs. Atlanta Braves LHP Luiz Gohara (1-3, 4.63), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.