The Marlins say there’s a good chance they’ll hang on to Giancarlo Stanton not only next season, but also the one after that — his last before he can leave via free agency — even if he doesn’t sign a long-term deal.
“It’s a very real possibility,” said Michael Hill, Marlins president of baseball operations.
Said Marlins general manager Dan Jennings: “I’d say it’s a safe bet Giancarlo is hitting in the Marlins lineup next year and the next year.”
The Marlins hope to keep Stanton around for years to come and are in negotiations with the slugger over a long-term contract. But even if the two sides fail to agree on such a deal, Stanton remains under team control through the 2016 season.
And the Marlins might just ride Stanton out until the end rather than trade him beforehand in order to get something back in return, as they did with Miguel Cabrera in their disastrous trade with Detroit in 2007.
“We’re trying to get away from that, that we have to trade everybody because they get expensive,” Hill said. “Enough of that. We want to win. We want to keep as many of our pieces as we can.”
The Marlins believe they can contend next season.
But their playoff chances should be even greater in 2016 when they expect to have pitching Jose Fernandez for the entire season. The Marlins aren’t counting on Fernandez to pitch for them in ’15 until June or July as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery.
If the Marlins hang on to Stanton through 2016, the most they can expect to get in return is a compensation draft pick from the team that signs the slugger after he becomes a free agent.
They wouldn’t be the first team to take make that tough decision, though.
The Brewers clung to Prince Fielder all the way to free agency, and the decision paid off when he helped lead Milwaukee to a division title in 2011.
“We did entertain a few trade options [for Fielder],” said Brewers general manager Doug Melvin. “But they weren’t good enough, so we said let’s keep him and try to win in 2011, and he helped us win. And then we knew he was going to be gone.”
The Oakland A’s rode out Miguel Tejada and Jason Giambi before losing them to free agency.
“Oakland kept all their guys that they didn’t sign and they walked out via free agency,” Hill said. “But they had playoff appearances [with them].”
Though they entertained offers for pitcher A.J. Burnett at the July trade deadline in 2005, the Marlins took him off the market thinking that he could help them reach the postseason. That didn’t happen, and Burnett left as a free agent.
Now Stanton — whether or not he signs a long-term deal — could remain in Miami during the final two seasons he remains the property of the Marlins.
“That’s definitely an option,” Hill said. “We want to win. If we’re one of 10 [playoff teams] and he helps us get there, we’re happy.”
▪ The Marlins are believed to be interested in a couple of pitchers who could be on the trading block — the Orioles’ Ubaldo Jimenez and Reds’ Johnny Cueto — as well as a few free-agent hurlers, including Kyle Kendrick and Ervin Santana.
Jimenez would represent an expensive option for the Marlins, who are looking for a veteran pitcher to add to their rotation. The 30-year-old right-hander is still owed $39 million over the next three years. Cueto has one year left on his contract with the Reds for $10 million.