ORLANDO -- Even though general manager Dan Jennings has gone on record saying the Marlins have no intention of trading Giancarlo Stanton, it probably won't stop teams from asking about him at this week's annual gathering of front office execs. Baseball's big boys would love nothing better than to pry away one of the game's elite young sluggers.
The questions are: How intent are the Marlins on keeping him around for the long-term? And how interested is Stanton in even remaining a Marlin in the future?
The Marlins are mulling whether to offer an extension that would buy out Stanton's three upcoming arbitration years and perhaps two or three years of free agency. But even if such an offer was considered fair and reasonable, there is no guarantee Stanton would accept it.
Which is why, if the Marlins are genuinely interested in holding on to Stanton for the long haul instead of trading away another homegrown star the way they did Miguel Cabrera once his salary become too rich for their blood, they might need to do more than present him with a conventional, dollars-and-cents contract.
Here, then, is a four-pronged proposal that might -- might -- sway Stanton to make himself comfortable in Miami:
1) Offer Stanton a 6-year deal for $95-100 million. As a benchmark, the Marlins worked out a 6-year, team-friendly deal with Hanley Ramirez for $70 million. But Stanton could command a higher figure given the sharp decline in power in the post-steroids era. Stanton is a natural wonder, and players like him are now few and far between.
2) Include either full or partial no-trade protection for Stanton. While the Marlins have made it their practice not to offer players no-trade protection, Stanton is the one player who could -- and should -- be made the exception to the rule. If not him, who?
3) Shorten the fences. The outfield dimensions at Marlins Park are a joke. It ranked as the most difficult ballpark in the majors in which to homer. While that fact alone wasn't the only reason the Marlins were the majors' lowest-scoring team, pulling up the rear by a wide margin, it was very clearly a contributing factor. Stanton and Logan Morrison, among others, have complained about it openly. But I've also spoken to a few Marlins pitchers who, privately, said they could live with modest reductions to the dimensions, and that they'd trade a few percentage points on their ERA's for increased run support.
4) Show a commitment to winning. In Stanton's 3 1/2 seasons, the Marlins have finished last three times while losing 80 more games than they've won. Coupled with the losing was the nearly complete dismantling of the 2012 team, which left Stanton exposed in the weakened lineup. As a result, Stanton was given little to hit, and he suffered through a disappointing season in which his offensive numbers suffered. He needs help, needs the Marlins to surround him in the lineup with qualify hitters and not a cast of developing rookies. The Marlins need to get him that help, and now. Whether they can with a payroll that is expected to fall within the $40 million to $50 million range is questionable.
Even if the Marlins do all that, there's no guarantee Stanton will agree to put his name on the dotted line and stay long term. But if the Marlins do nothing more than offer him the bare basics, they might make the decision easy for him.