Miami Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill believes had it not been for a few key injuries, the club could’ve been one of 10 to reach the postseason.
Imagine that kind of progress from a team that finished 2013 with 100 losses. Last winter, the Marlins set out to improve their offense and clubhouse culture, and did both. In order to take the next step, the organization plans to retain all of its players, including slugger Giancarlo Stanton, while continuing to upgrade the roster.
As promised, Miami reached out to Stanton’s representatives once the season ended. The right fielder is back in California after a European vacation, almost completely healed from fractures he suffered Sept. 11 from a pitch to the face.
"We’re hopeful we’ll be able to make him a Marlin for many years to come," Hill said Wednesday afternoon in a teleconference.
Hill would not go into details about the negotiations, wanting to keep them private, but said they are "ongoing" and that Stanton’s representatives know "we’re ready to engage." He has been spoken with Stanton over the phone.
If Stanton becomes the first Marlins player to capture National League Most Valuable Player, then it would impact a deal. The winner will be announced Nov. 13. Already this offseason he has accepted the NL Hank Aaron Award and NL Outstanding Player from the Players Choice Awards. Stanton was also a finalist for the Rawlings Gold Glove.
When asked whether the Marlins had given Stanton a timeframe on wanting an answer, Hill refuted the idea. Last year, he avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $6.5 million offer.
"We haven’t given him a timeline and I don’t want to speculate that we would allow it to go on indefinitely," Hill said. "At some point he’s either going to be signed to a multi-year (deal) or be signed to a one-year. We haven’t gotten to that yet, and we’ll definitely keep you guys posted. There’s no deadline in place to the timing of things."
Stanton, who turns 25 Saturday, hit .288 with a league-high 37 homers, .555 slugging percentage, 299 total bases and 24 intentional walks. He set a career mark with 105 RBI. The two-time All-Star had started all 145 games until Mike Fiers’ pitch hit him.
Miami went just 6-11 with Stanton out of the lineup, averaging 2.9 runs per game. In 12 of them, the offense scored two runs or fewer. The Marlins were 4.5 games out of the second wild-card spot until the injury.
"He’s an MVP candidate," Hill said. "I think that’s what we’ve seen this year. We have a different team when he’s not in the lineup. I think you saw from a production standpoint he’s a big part of our offense. That’s why we’re trying to keep him long-term in the middle of that order, surround him with pieces that give us an opportunity to win on a daily basis."