The Marlins have fallen to 15-28, the second-worst record in baseball, and the frustration in the clubhouse is beginning to bubble to the surface. On Thursday, star hitter Giancarlo Stanton said his frustration level with the organization is "the highest ever." Then on Friday, in a game against the Dodgers, the benches cleared in a ninth-inning brawl. All of this raises the question: What future does Stanton have in Miami? On the latest episode of The Ringer MLB Show, Ben Lindbergh and Michael Baumann brought on the Marlins beat writer for the Sun Sentinel, Tim Healey, to address that question and talk about the outlook from South Beach.
Stanton agreed to a 13-year deal in 2014 that could be one of the most lucrative ever signed in the sport. He can’t opt out until after 2020 and has a no-trade clause, but it’s never been a given that he’ll remain in Miami until 2027. Healey explains:
"I don’t want to pretend that I’m inside his head really, because we only spend a very small part of the day with [the team]," Healey began. "But everybody’s reaction when Giancarlo signed that contract was ‘OK, well, for how many of those 13 years is he actually going to be in Miami?’"
The team being bad this year is no surprise — the Marlins haven’t made the postseason since 2003 — but it’s been much worse than expected, and the calls to blow up the team are growing.
"Nobody kind of expected them to be quite this bad through one quarter of this season," he said. "You’re starting to hear the voices — outside the organization at least — that a firesale here may be inevitable."
Meanwhile, since Stanton signed that deal, he’s stagnated as a player, raising questions about his contract and future.
"We’re two months into the season, he’s OK, he’s not quite at that 2014 level," Healey said. "He hasn’t hit the slump that he did around this time last year and he hasn’t been injured. If he can get close to what he was then it’s still a reasonable value on that contract. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it an albatross yet. A year from now it could be. Another injury, another bad year, and his salary goes up from $14.5 million this year to $25 million next year, that’s a lot tougher to deal with. The jury is still out on whether this contract is a good one, whether he lives up to it, but the next 12 months really are critical for that, not only in terms of where the Marlins are as a franchise, but also Giancarlo as a player and his escalating salary."
Could a trade be in the cards? It would be tough to pull off.
"I would be surprised if they entertained it as quickly … in-season," he said. "If the ownership thing wraps up and there’s new owners and they want to look at it in the winter, that sounds a lot more realistic if that’s the route they want to go. Whether there’d be takers, I think you’ll always have people interested in the idea of Giancarlo Stanton, whether they could make that work with the money [with] the Marlins, how much the Marlins are willing to eat on that contract, they’re going to have to eat some of it. And how much they’re willing to, how much they’re fiscally able to, there’s a lot of moving pieces there. You see a lot of reports of the Marlins being in debt, losing money every year, all of that factors into a potential Giancarlo trade. It’s a lot easier to want to trade Giancarlo Stanton than it is to actually trade him."
Listen to the full podcast here. This transcript has been edited and condensed.