Tomorrow the Miami Marlins will officially announce that outfielder Giancarlo Stanton will be the highest paid player in any professional sport. The two parties have agreed to a contract extension of $325 million over 13 years. Stanton, who turned 25 earlier this month, has a no trade clause (something the Marlins wouldn’t extend to Albert Pujols a few years back) and can opt out after the 2020 season.
I don’t like this deal one bit.
Now don’t get me wrong. Stanton is a great player. He just finished runner up in the NL MVP balloting and as Tom Verducci pointed out on the MLB Network the other day his numbers are comparable to those of Frank Robinson during his first five seasons with the Cincinnati Reds. Stanton has hit .271 with 154 HR and 399 RBI while Robinson hit .298 with 155 HR and 449 RBI.
But Frank Robinson never got hit in the face with a pitch. The last time Stanton was in a batter’s box was September 11th when he got hit in the face by a pitch from Mike Fiers of the Milwaukee Brewers. Stanton has recovered physically, but has he recovered psychologicially? Could he become gun shy at the plate? I think that is a very distinct possibility and I would not be surprised if never approaches the kind of numbers he put up in 2014 again.
But what if Stanton overcomes that obstacle and produces like nothing ever happened? Well, I still don’t like the deal because the Marlins have put too many eggs into one basket. What they’ve spent on Stanton could have been spent fielding an entire team and thensome. It’s true that the Marlins did sign several free agents and made some trades prior to the 2012 season and they fell flat on their faces. But if you’re going to spend $325 million then spend it on five or six solid players than one superstar.
With so much money tied up in one player it is going to be hard to sign someone like 2013 NL Rookie of the Year Jose Fernandez to a long term deal never mind Christian Yelich, Adeiny Hechavarria or Henderson Alvarez. Of course, if they continue to lose they might be able to draft some good players, but won’t be able to keep them. And if they do contend then they won’t have the flexibility to make moves during the trade deadline.
Assuming Stanton has overcome his injury and continues to be productive, I don’t see the Marlins doing any better. If the Marlins haven’t reached the post-season by 2020, Stanton is good as gone and the Marlins will have, as usual, shown very little for their investment.