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Update on Marlins' free agent moves; Behind-the-scenes nuggets on Stanton negotiations

All Marlins talk in the wake of today's press conference for Giancarlo Stanton's historic 13-year, $325 million deal:

### By accepting below-market salaries of $6.5 million and $9 million over the next two seasons, Stanton has given the Marlins flexibility to augment. And the Marlins are acting quickly.

According to a source, the Marlins have made a two-year, $20 million offer to free agent first baseman Adam LaRoche, who hit .259 with 26 homers and 92 RBI for Washington in 2014.

Meanwhile, the Marlins have expressed interest in several free agent pitchers, including right-handers Jason Hammel (10-11, 3.47 ERA for the Cubs and Oakland last season) and Justin Masterson, who battled injuries and was 7-9 with a 5.88 ERA for Cleveland and St. Louis last season but was much better in 2013 for Cleveland (14-10, 3.45).

The Marlins also have interest in Arizona left-hander Wade Miley (8-12, 4.34) if the Diamondbacks trade him. The Marlins say their payroll will top $60 million.

### The Marlins’ first offer to Stanton was vastly different than the one he accepted. According to sources, the Marlins made a six-year, $130 million offer shortly after the season ended.

Agent Joel Wolfe said Stanton declined the offer and “had me tell them if it’s not a lifetime contract, there’s no point in talking. The offer wasn’t insulting but he didn’t want a traditional [Mike] Trout-type contract.”

### The Marlins liked Stanton’s idea of a lifetime contract and suggested meeting in Los Angeles. Owner Jeffrey Loria, manager Mike Redmond and front office executives David Samson, Michael Hill and Dan Jennings attended that Nov. 6 meeting with Stanton and Wolfe inside bungalow 10A at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

During that meeting, Loria made an offer to Stanton and laid out a plan for how the roster would be improved.

“They had a contract there,” Stanton said. “I put it aside. I said, ‘Listen, what are we going to do to make this better?’ I’m not trying to come here and get my butt kicked for 10 hours and go home to a lavish lifestyle every day.

“That was a concern for me…. You can’t keep saying we’re going to win this year. I’m sick of hearing it.” Ultimately, Stanton believed the Marlins were committed to winning.

### Samson said Stanton asked a lot of “direct” questions. Such as: “Do you view the core of the team the way I view the core?... Are you looking to add more bats?”

The Marlins brass said yes to that "add more bats" question and then “we all said, to really do this, we need the next three years to be lower than market,” Samson said. “It’s what the Heat did --- they took less to have more.”

Stanton was on board with the idea and ultimately took $30 million over the next three.

### Wolfe said he and Stanton “didn’t know what to think or expect going into the meeting.” But Wolfe said Stanton left the meeting “interested and surprised.”

### During the meeting, Stanton said he thought it would be in the team’s best interests to move in the Marlins Park fences, partly to help the team’s other position players.

Stanton said he thought he missed out on 10 home runs because of the outfield dimensions. The Marlins then showed him evidence that he actually missed out on only four home runs.

“We went through a chart,” including the impact on other Marlins hitters, too, Samson said. The Marlins will keep the fences status quo in 2015 but re-evaluate before 2016. Stanton actually hit better at home (.310, 24 homers) than on the road (.265, 13 homers).

### The Marlins made a 12-year offer during the Beverly Hills meeting and the sides decided later to add a 13th-year team option ($25 million if he’s on the team in 2027, $10 million if he’s not). Wolfe said the final per-year figure offered in Beverly Hills was pretty close to the final number.

But Samson said there were at least 20 more phone conversations, plus additional meetings with Wolfe at the GM meetings in Arizona last week, before a deal was reached.

### In the days after that meeting, Stanton asked for both a no-trade clause (meaning he cannot be traded without his approval) and an opt-out clause. The Marlins had no problem with the no-trade clause, though Samson said “we still will not be giving no trade clauses” to others.

But the opt-out “was the difficult part,” Wolfe said. Stanton wanted to have the right to opt out sooner than six years, Wolfe said. The Marlins didn’t want an unconditional opt-out, instead preferring to tie the opt-out “to triggers,” Wolfe said.

For example, the Marlins wanted the opt-out to be delayed if the Marlins won a certain number of games or made the playoffs. Wolfe said “a hundred different scenarios” were discussed before Samson called Wolfe last week and said they would agree to a six-year opt out. That sealed the deal.

“We said opt-out clauses historically have only been to get money,” Samson said. “He said that’s not why we’re doing it. He said, ‘I don’t want an opt-out clause because of instead making $218 million over the last seven years, I want to make $219 million or $319 million…

“[He said], ‘I want to make sure I’m in a place where there’s sustained winning and a winning culture.’ Once we believed the opt-out clause would be used as a shield and not a sword, we were OK with it. That required some very direct questions to him, which we asked. They answered it correctly. As he pointed out, either way he makes the money.”

### Samson said Loria, who turns 74 Wednesday, has no intention of selling the team. “We get a lot of calls; people want to buy the team,” Samson said. “He’s in it for the long run because he loves it.”

### How will the Marlins afford this? Besides the expectation of signing a far more lucrative TV deal, Samson said with attendance, there is “no question in the next two years we will be back to where we were in 2012 and go up from there.” The Marlins averaged 27,401 in the first year of the ballpark (2012) but 21,386 last season.

### Most unusual question from the press conference: WSVN’s Steve Shapiro noting Stanton will make $69,000 per day during the contract and asking if part of that is almost embarrassing.

“Embarrassed? No,” he said. “I know I have a lot of expectations I have to live up to, which I’m willing to do. This isn’t like having a winning lottery ticket and peace out. You win the lottery and go away, retire.

“This is the start of new work and a new job for this city. It’s a huge responsibility. I have to come into this like I was drafted in 2007.”

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz