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Giancarlo Stanton’s Contract is the Death of the Marlins

Exactly one week ago, I wrote about whether or not a massive contract would be worth staying in Miami for Giancarlo Stanton as rumors swirled around his pending contract extension. Now, we officially have our answer – Stanton has chosen the money to the tune of $325 million over 13 seasons.

Yes, that is officially the largest contract ever for an American athlete. And it’s also a hell of a lot of money for a 25-year old baseball player. That is the amount of money that is hard to turn down, even if it means staying with a lowly franchise. And while Stanton might be worth every  penny, his contract will be the death of the Miami Marlins.

Let’s put into perspective just how much money this is and how this contract goes against everything the Marlins have done over the past 15 years. Here are the Marlins yearly payroll numbers since 2000:

Year Payroll Year Payroll
2014 $45.8 million 2013 $50.5 million
2012 $101.6 million 2011 $57.7 million
2010 $47.4 million 2009 $36.8 million
2008 $21.8 million 2007 $30.5 million
2006 $14.9 million 2005 $60.4 million
2004 $42.1 million 2003 $45.0 million
2002 $41.9 million 2001 $35.8 million
2000 $19.9 million 15 Year Total $631.7 million

For those of you counting at home, over 15 years the Marlins have spent $631.7 million on hundreds of players. They are now committing $325 million to Stanton alone over the next 13 years (that is 51.4 percent of their 15 year payroll total).

Giancarlo Stanton is the Death of the Marlins

Marc Serota/Getty Images

These are Jeffrey Loria and the Marlins we are talking about, this move isn’t about securing a winning future – this move is about giving a fanbase, one that has (rightfully) lost hope in the arrogant franchise, misleading hope. Fans aren’t showing up and the support around the new stadium in Miami is mediocre at best. Miami doesn’t belong to the Marlins, they are often just a simple after-thought.

Instead of living rich in one of the ripest markets in the country, the Marlins have struggled mightily to tap into their true marketing potential because of their reputation as a money-hungry organization. A reputation that has been well-earned on their part.

But this deal, oh this deal will change everything, folks!

“It’s a landmark moment for the franchise and Giancarlo, and it’s for the city and fans to rally around,” Loria said.

There it is, the real reason behind the whole deal – “for the city and fans to rally around”. Loria might as well have said “we gave you the guy you wanted for the next decade, now pay us back.”

There is a very good chance that in Loria’s mind, this deal should erase any hard feelings and complaining from the Miami faithful. You see, to Loria, throwing money at a problem can solve it all – and if it won’t solve it, well then it can at least hide the true underlying issue to keep it away from the public.

In 2012, Loria attempted to do the same thing. He needed the attention (and ultimately money) of the people of Miami. So instead of building a championship team through development and inner growth, Loria went for that quick fix to buy attention and excitement – signing Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell. He covered up the wholes of the organization with shiny new pieces and touted the ownership’s “commitment” to winning by throwing $191 million towards these players. It was a blatant PR attempt and it worked for a few months.

Then a year later, back to square one.

Now this situation with Stanton is the same as 2012 while also being completely different. Loria knew he couldn’t just go out and buy free agents to garner interest from local fans this time (“fool Miami once, shame on you…”). No, that would be way too obvious. Loria had to think bigger and bolder. He had to make a statement that would reverberate around the sports world – he needed something monumental. He had to keep the most impressive young power hitter in the game with Miami. He couldn’t risk the continued decrease in fan interest.

Thus, 13-years and $325 million. Not only was that the type of money it would take to keep Stanton in Miami, but it was also the size of contract that would catch the attention of the sports world – and that is exactly what it did.

The Doodle

This contract by itself won’t make this team a contender for the next 13 years, in all likelihood this contract will take the Marlins even further away from contending. Think about it – this is an organization that has spent over $60 million on their payroll just twice in the last 15 years (and 2012 shouldn’t even be allowed to count). In fact, over the past 15 years, there have been three years in which the Marlins’ entire payroll has been lower than Stanton’s new yearly salary of $25 million.

If we expect the Marlins to now all of a sudden be willing to have a payroll of $60+ each year, we are losing our minds.

Let’s look once again at the Miami payrolls in each of the last 15 years, but this time we will see what they would have looked like if they had someone on the team making Stanton’s $25 million:

Year Payroll Year Payroll
2014 $70.8 million 2013 $75.5 million
2012 $126.6 million 2011 $82.7 million
2010 $72.4 million 2009 $61.8 million
2008 $46.8 million 2007 $55.5 million
2006 $39.9 million 2005 $85.4 million
2004 $67.1 million 2003 $70.0 million
2002 $66.9 million 2001 $60.8 million
2000 $44.9 million 15 Year Total $1.006 billion

Does anyone in their right mind expect Jeffrey Loria and the Marlins to have team payrolls like these year after year? There is no way in hell. Actually, even considering that is laughable. $25 million is a staple Loria payroll, not just the salary of one player.

With this new Stanton contract, there are a few things that we can expect:

  • There will be no more free agent signings of established players who are producing on a continued basis (not that there were in the first place).
  • There will be many cheap “gambles” signed each year such as Casey McGehee.
  • The honeymoon will wear off as soon as the Marlins fail to reach the playoffs.
  • The trading of other up and coming prospects will continue as soon as 2016.

Things aren’t changing folks, not even close.

There are two clear winners with this signing – Giancarlo Stanton (duh) and Jeffrey Loria.

For Loria, he now has the excuse he has been searching for – an excuse he will be able to use for the next 13 years…”We gave you, the fans, exactly what you wanted.” He will be able to hold this over the fanbase’s head for a decade, and this will be his excuse when he refuses to pay other players.

“We can’t afford Player A because of our previous large financial commitment.”

“To say that our ownership is not committed to winning is completely inaccurate – look at what we were willing to do with Giancarlo.”

“We are a front office that is committed to success, as is evident by our willingness to sign the players we have drafted and developed such as Giancarlo.”

Sure, there have been “reports” that the Marlins will now turn their attention towards extending other young stars such as Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna, Derek Dietrich and Jose Fernandez. To be frank, this sounds like the exact kind of “leak” that Loria and the Miami front office would love to have. It makes them sound like an organization that is committed (get used to that word Miami fans, you’ll hear it a lot this year) to winning now and in the future. It seems like the perfect way to get fans buying into the team once again.

It also sounds like a bunch of bullsh*t. I mean, do we really believe the Marlins are going to shell out the money necessary to keep their young stars? I put more worth into what the politicians in Washington are saying than anything that comes from the mouth or office of Loria – and that is saying something.

As long as Loria is pulling the strings in Miami, nothing will change. Giancarlo Stanton is one of the best young talents this game has ever seen, but Loria is using him just to bring more money into the owner’s pockets. Sadly for Miami fans, that money will also be accompanied by years of agony and pain as you watch your team continue to struggle.

Giancarlo Stanton’s contract will be the death of the Miami Marlins, and yet Jeffrey Loria will continue to reap the benefits. Something about that seems just so incredibly wrong.


Cover Photo: Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

Grant E. Doepel

Grant E. Doepel

Founder at Sports Grumble
Editor in Chief and co-founder of Riverfront City Sports and Sports Grumble, Doepel is a Cincinnati native who lives and breathes Queen City sports. A University of the Cumberlands graduate with degrees in Journalism and Communication Arts, Doepel still resides in the Greater Cincinnati area to provide easy access to the riverfront stadiums.
Grant E. Doepel

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