The Miami Marlins and their deep pockets are the story of the sports world this week, just as we all predicted.
On Monday, the Marlins formally announced they'd given All-Star slugger Giancarlo Stanton a 13-year, $325 million deal. It's the single most lucrative deal ever given to an an American pro athlete. This is a really real thing the Miami Marlins are doing, so literally nothing in life should ever surprise you again.
It's a great day for baseball in Miami, which has never had the strongest local support. In fact, the mega-deal may have just saved the sport in South Florida.
1. The deal sends a message to future free agents: the Miami Marlins are committed to competing.
It's no secret; after the latest Miami Marlins fire sale, there was no way the Marlins were ever again attracting top-tier free agents with this current ownership. Sure, they might overpay you, but you also might end up having to move your entire family from Miami to Canada in a few months. No ballplayer in the position to pick and choose where they work was going to be up for that uncertainty. This deal is huge in changing that message.
The inclusion of a "no-trade clause" in Stanton's new deal will change the way the Marlins do business with top free agents, because the Marlins can never again say it's team policy to not include such a perk. The Marlins can now get off that high-horse, and point to Stanton's contract as a sign they are committed to players in the long term, not just until they decide you're not worth the money anymore, and feel like shaking the Etch-A-Sketch on the entire team, AGAIN.
2. The Marlins are finally starting to make good on the promises that came with a new stadium deal.
The Marlins cried poor when they were playing in Sun Life, constantly whining that without a new stadium, they could never truly invest in better talent. Then they got the stadium -- at record cost to taxpayers, no less -- maxed out their credit cards on new players and manager Ozzie Guillen, and seven months later were back shopping at Aldi for their groceries after shipping all the new guys up to Toronto and pulling the plug on the season. Understandably, this left most Miami-Dade residents furious. It's one thing to pay for an expensive dinner (even one you didn't ask for, as in the case of the vote-free Marlins Stadium fiasco). But it's quite another to pay for that meal, show up to Prime 112, and see a menu with only hot dogs on it.
No more! Giancarlo is the steak, and the Marlins will be serving him up to fans every night for a long time. It's a start, and knowing the Marlins can't pull steak off the menu without the steak's permission, is comforting for the city of Miami. Yes, this metaphor includes a steak speaking, but you get what I'm saying.
3. The deal sends a message to their other superstar, Jose Fernandez, that they could invest in him, too.
Stanton's signing should be a good sign for those Marlins fans that are already worried about losing Jose Fernandez. The ace pitcher, as much as he genuinely seems excited to be in Miami, is represented by super agent Scott Boras so you know he will be putting himself on the open market regardless of what where he wants to be. The Stanton deal at least shows Jose that the Marlins won't be a place where he wastes his career, playing for a team sure to be out of contention every year because their owners are cheapskates.
Fernandez and his agent can also demand their own no-trade clause, an issue that was sure to be a sticking point if Stanton didn't get his. Having Stanton and Fernandez as the face of the Miami Marlins for the next decade would be just the kind of stability this franchise and it's fan base have never enjoyed. People want to fall in love with players, and know they won't be sold off once they become attached to them. The mega-deal is a good sign Marlins fans will be able to enjoy Stanton and Fernandez for a long time. You can almost feel safe going out and buying their jerseys. Just don't buy the orange one, that's still not OK.
4. Stanton could pay for himself when the Marlins sign a new TV deal.
The Marlins are stuck in a terrible local TV deal compared to other teams, but once that deal expires in 2020, the team wants to be as attractive as possible for a potential new suitor. A better, more attractive product on the field, would translate to much more money, which in the end would mean better competing with teams that profit upwards of $250 million a year from their network rights.
5. Once all the above things are done, Jeffrey Loria can sell the team and get the hell out of all of our lives.
Let's be honest here, Loria is in it for the money. He doesn't give a shit about Miami or baseball. This Stanton deal sets the wheels in motion for all the moves mentioned above, which in turn means Loria profits damn near one-billion dollars on a sale of the team. Who knows what a baseball team with a shiny new TV deal and a new stadium will be worth in seven years, but whatever it is, it will equal a huge profit for Loria, who bought the team for next to nothing compared to what it would be worth.
Signing Stanton is the first domino to fall in the end game that results in Jeffrey Loria skipping town will a Powerball like profit, and Miami should be OK with that. Loria will have left the team better off than he found it, and made himself a shitload of money -- granted, much of it on the back of taxpayers thanks to the atrocious stadium deal.
Today was a huge day for baseball in Miami. It may have even saved it: